It’s been inspired by watching the reality television show The Only Way is Essex. It became an internet sensation and provoked a bidding war on both sides of the Atlantic. But just how likely is the new diet phenomenon to work? Six Weeks to OMG: Get Skinner Than All Your Friends was initially self-published by gym instructor Paul Khanna under the pen name Venice A Fulton.
Now the 39-year-old has signed lucrative publishing deals on both sides of the Atlantic, after a fierce bidding war. Khanna’s literary agent Richard Pine described the US deal with Grand Central and the UK agreement with Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin, as “spectacular”. But the diet book, which isn’t released until July, has already sparked controversy with contentious advice such as skipping breakfast, going easy on the broccoli and taking cold baths.
Khanna has faced criticism from doctors who claim his advice could be ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. But London-based Khanna, who has a degree in sports science, is defending his diet plan, saying he devised his theories after reading scientific papers on metabolism and weight.
So exactly what is he advocating in his six-week plan?
Don’t eat breakfast
Well, first of all, Khanna suggests skipping breakfast. “Breakfast is for wimps!” he says, advising that you exercise the first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and only allow yourself to eat after three hours, so your body is forced to burn stored fat rather than food.
Drink black coffee
He also tells clients to drink black coffee before exercise, calling it “nature’s cheap and secret potion”. Khanna says the caffeine in black coffee tells your body to burn fat faster and, his theory is backed up by recent studies which have shown caffeine speeds up the metabolism.
Take cold baths
Now, if you’re anything like me, your bath has to be toasty warm. But Khanna says taking a cool bath every morning will help your body to burn stored fat as it tries to keep itself warm.
Eat less fruit.
Yes that really is part of the diet plan. Khanna suggests eating just one piece of fruit a day as fruit contains fructose which can turn into fat if not burned off.
Swap the broccoli for coke
Khanna says it really doesn’t matter if you eat unhealthily in the short-term in order to achieve results, adding that it makes no difference whether you get your daily carbs from “cans of coke or from broccoli”. It may seem like just the latest in a line of fad diets, but Khanna already has something of a cult following, which more than a 100,000 copies of the book on order and readers downloading the e-reader version in their droves. And even Khanna himself admits his ideas may seem a little “crazy”. “On the face of it,” he says, “skipping breakfast, jumping in a cold bath, and not being completely seduced by eating as much fruit as you want, all seem like crazy ideas.
“After all, there are few, if any, diet books that recommend anything similar. And because these ideas appear controversial, both to ‘experts’ and those who believe in them, they’re easy targets.” He urges people not to dismiss his ideas simply because they are not, as yet, widely held.