How to Lose Weight Well, Channel 4, TV review: From the Master Cleanse to the 5:2, Dr Xand Van Tulleken sorted the dodgy diets from the doable

This was predictable new year programming but it was a useful hour for January calorie counters  

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The Independent Culture

If anyone ever tells you they plan to live purely on cabbage soup/grapefruit/baby food this January in order to shift pounds, I advise you to get them to watch this. I know people trying-out popular diets and fat-shedding methods isn’t exactly ground-breaking television, but if done well – and this was – it can be entertaining, informative and may just help us all shift the mince-pie muffin top.

The screen-friendly Doctor Xand Van Tulleken was at the helm with the help of dietician Hala El-Shafie and chef Stacie Stewart. The trio steered three groups (“crashers”, “shape-shifters” and “life-changers”) through different popular diets, from the bonkers Master Cleanse – surviving on a lemon-juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper concoction – to the more doable 5:2 and Alkaline plans. Helpfully in this first episode, the dieters all came across as likeable and were also honest about any slip-ups, so we cheered with them at their final weigh-ins.

There could have been a bit less explaining between ad breaks but it was an engaging watch, not least the ever-game Xand giving weight-loss pills a go. He took double the suggested dose (a common pitfall) and ignored the healthy-eating recommendations, instead binging on an Indian all-you-can-eat buffet. He then let cameras into the bathroom. “Zand hasn’t pooed himself, but he has oil dripping out his bum,” said his twin brother Chris with glee. If that doesn’t put you off the quick-fix, I don’t know what will.