Rob Woollen Personal Training Manchester

YOUR Personal Trainer - YOUR Future in Fitness!


Final Diet Chef summary and overall results

Posted by Rob Woollen on March 13, 2010 at 6:04 AM Comments comments (3)

Please read the results in combination with the comments on Diet Chef below. We did not achieve this simply by following their plan - we had to make significant adjustments. Here is how we stacked up over the 4 weeks.

Rob Woollen

Overall weight loss - 7.2lb

Fat loss -4.6lb

Lean tissue loss -2.6lb

Starting BMI -22

Final BMI - 21

Starting body fat - 13.6%

Finish body fat - 11.2%

Female friend - mid 30s

Overall weight loss - 8.3lb

Fat loss -5.5lb

Lean tissue loss -2.9lb

Starting BMI -26.3

Final BMI - 25.1

Starting body fat - 33.2%

Finish body fat - 31.6%

As you can see we have both lost a similar amount of weight and of body fat, so it goes to show anybody can do it -from a fairly sedentary worker to a personal trainer - and anyone in between.

Ideal BMi is 20-25 for most people so in just 4 weeks my friend has reduced her risk of metabolic disorders (such as diabetes), many cancers and heart/lung/blood vessel disorders considerably!

We lost almost twice the amount of fat as we did lean tissue. This is important as we are not aiming to lose to much lean. However a little associated loss is almost inevitable on a fairly quick weight loss programme.


The DietChef plan is flawed in that the calorie content of their packs is significantly lower than that stated. It is imperative that if you decide to use the plan you are aware of this and take steps to address it - otherwise you will end up losing only lean mass and hardly touching the body fat you really want to lose.

We realised that the packs come in at around 500 calories less than they are supposed to. So we made adjustments to ensure that we still got enough to eat. And the proof is there - it worked and we lost body fat. My final and overall recommendation is in favour of using Diet Chef as it does all the hard work for you. However it is vital that you measure the results weekly so that you can adjust as necessary.

The Food

I rated the food highly. Given that they are ready meals, cooked in 3 minutes in the microwave, I thought the standard was consistently high. The Italian Tortellini is a disappointment-  it is a bit like Heinz spaghetti hoops. The chicken curry was delicious as was the beef in velvet porter. My friend enjoyed the meatballs (both pork and beef). Other dishes of note were the stroganoff and the chicken fricassee.

The soups are great. I do not like thin watery soups, so the chicken and thyme was a disappointment - however some people would prefer this to the thick stew-like consistency of the chorizo and bean and butterbean and carrot (both of which I Ioved!). For those looking for an in between - mushroom, parsnip and chilli or butternut squash might suit you best.

Breakfasts were very nice, granola is going to find its way onto both of regular menus! Snacks also were spot on, with a good mix of biscuits, bars, and crisp-type oatcakes. My friend remarked that she still felt able to have a treat due to these.

I am not a big fan of milkshakes with added vitamins as meal replacements, and think this is a bit of a cop-out as it is the only difference between the 1200 and 1500 plan. (This proves a point actually as the milkshakes contain 225 calories - surely you need 300 to make 1200 into 1500?)

The plan

I am still disappointed by Diet Chefs uneducated response to my issue with the calorie intake, but in general the plan has taken into account the need for calcium, fresh produce and sufficient calories to allow healthy weight loss. They need to get over trying to sell 4lb in a week weight loss as on their case studies and "success stories". The science behind this goes a little like this: --

4lb of body fat (remember that is the only weight we really want to lose) = 14000 calories. So to lose this in a week would require a calorie deficit of 2000 per day. Given that most people need around 2200-2800 per day, the only way to achieve this would be to only provide about 200-800 calories per day. This is just not right and will give rise to serious health issues. Diet Chef would do better to give people the amount of calories their plan says they do. I wonder how the "1200 calorie plan" is viewed under the trade descriptions act when it contains around 750.

The way forward

This plan is safe and very effective as long as you take in enough calories per day. Use the dietchef website to find out how many you should be having and make up the deficit in the grossly understocked packs by adding things like: -brown rice; wholemeal bread, wholemeal cous-cous, low-fat yoghurt.

If you want more details of exactly how to do this feel free to email

Week 4 Results

Posted by Rob Woollen on March 13, 2010 at 5:58 AM Comments comments (2)

Well it is now the end of the trial.

I will give the results in this section - the next post will contain the science, and my final summary of the plan and its merits and issues.

This week I have had a hard week. There was one day when i was at the NEC when I could not stick to the plan. Whe I got to my hotel in Coventry at 9:30pm they had stopped doing food. I went to 3 pubs, but nobody would serve food. In the end I had to eat chips. Having been away from food like that for a while, they made me feel sick that night. The next 2 days at the show I was able to eat pretty well as I was able to prepare.

My friend has doen well this week, with food and exercise going all to plan.

My results. This week I have dropped my weight by 0.4 (0.9lb) kg. However my fat loss has been 1.3kg (2.9lb). I have been doing a little less exercise this week so perhaps what weights I have done have had a chance to add a little lean mass.

My friend has lost 1.2kg in weight (2.6lb) of which 0.9kg (2lb) is pure fat loss. Another great week for her! So it seems that the plan we put in place after week 2 -including the exercise - was just right for her.

Week 3 Results

Posted by Rob Woollen on March 13, 2010 at 5:51 AM Comments comments (0)

Week 3 results now in.

We have both had a good week. My friend has kicked ass on the exercise front and her new eating plan is not too hard on her. We have both realised that it is quite normal to feel hungry from time to time - we do it whatever eating plan we follow (even no plan!). This is certainly no worse than "normality".

This week I have dropped my weight by 0.8kg (1.8lb) but in fact my body fat has not changed at all. I am not too concerned about this as I am a hard subject due to the volume and variance in my activity levels. Losing a kg of lean tissue is no cause for massive concern. I will jsut have to look next week at how I can fuel up correctly before each session I participate in.

My friend has lost 0.9kg of weight whilst gaining slightly on lean mass. Her fat loss this week is an impressive 1.3kg (2.9lb) which just goes to show what a difference the regular exercise makes. Her body responds to this by going into fat burning mode most of the time. Added to the drop in intake she has had a great week.

Interms of the food, we are still finding that there are no major issues with hunger. The food itself is still pretty good, althoughmy friend is starting to get a little bored with meals that are tomato based as she thinks they are all very similar. I personally have no problem with them. In any case there is enough variety to stop repeating yourself.

Week 2 - my friend's results

Posted by Rob Woollen on March 13, 2010 at 5:43 AM Comments comments (1)

Ok I got my friends results.

At the end of week 2 she had lost a further 1kg in weight. However this was all lean tissue.

Factors which may have affected this include: -

  • The fact that she had not done all the exercise planned for this week (in fact less than half of it)
  • We may have increased her intake slightly too much. A 1kg drop with no accompanying fat loss could be a simple matter of water content in her body.

We decided that next week she would rigorously follow her exercise programme which requires her to do 30 mins on five days of the week. The type of exercise is not hugely important when following a calorie deficit plan, although there are some tweaks we can make with conditioned clients to help with this. The body knows if it is "active" or "inactive" based on the regularity of exercise - this is far more important that the type. I may sound like I am underselling my services here, but there are many other factors for which personal training is hugeley beneficial. But 2 sessions a week of perfect fat burning exercise will always be trumped by 5 sessions of regular exercise even if the type is not as good.

We also decided to tweak her intake so that she now has (in addition to the food package): -

-2 slices of bread with lunch

-2 yoghurts

-2 slices of bread with evening meal

-2 portions of veg

-2 portions of fruit

-half a pint of milk

End of week 2

Posted by RWPT Personal Training on February 27, 2010 at 5:57 AM Comments comments (1)

Well week 2 is over. So what has been happening? (My results below)

  • We've increased our calorie intake considerably. I have added almost 1000 calories to the DietChef hamper each day, giving me an average of 2200 calories per day to allow for my active lifestyle.
  • My friend has upped her intake to ensure that she takes on 1800 per day as recommended by DietChef
  • We have both experienced times when we felt a little hungry, but on reflection - I get this anyway all the time. It hasn;t been that hard for me to stick to the plan. My friend reports that some days she has wanted to have an extra snack, but has managed not to cheat at all. We reckon it will be better if she spaces out her eating more evenly through the day.
  • Food is still ranking pretty high for taste etc. The standard is high. Be aware, a lot of the meat is from your cheaper cuts such as chicken thigh rather than breast. So what! That is what real meat tastes like! On average I reckon about 80% of the meals would be regarded as very good, with only 10% regarded as just average, and none regarded as poor.
  • Not getting bored of it yet as there is so much choice, although we are getting a bit sick of eating just bread, and have started to swap for weighed measurements of rice, cous-cous and pasta too.

Week 2 Results

So today I did my measurements. I have lost hardly any weight, but the biggest result came when I put on the bodystat. I have lost a full 2 pounds in body fat, and put back a pound of lean tissue. All this by eating more!! This proves all the theories we learn in nutrition courses about starvation mode and yo-yo dieting.

I am of over to my friend's house now - I'll post again when her results are in.

The moment of truth

Posted by RWPT Personal Training on February 20, 2010 at 2:49 PM Comments comments (0)

Today we redid our measurements. What follows should be a real lesson to anyone trying to get a leaner, fitter body.

It is important that these measurements are taken at the same time and preferably on the same day. We did this today.

Bear in mind that for the last four days we have been eating the Dietchef recommendation PLUS a massive 400 or so calories per day extra.

I had lost 4 pounds in weight. My friend had lost two pounds.

My friend was disappointed at first. "I was hoping for a bit more than two pounds" she said. I said nothing as I knew what was coming. This is the first time that I have been able to see these type of  results with the absolute definite knowledge of exactly what we had both eaten.

When we got to the Bodystat (this by the way is an extremely accurate % Fat testing machine costing around £300, not one of those body fat machines from the chemists) we found a whole different story. I had gained around 0.2lb of bodyfat, and lost 4lb of muscle and lean tissue. My friend, however, had lost a full pound of pure bodyfat. Our hydration levels (which can slightly affect results) were consistent across the two tests.

So how does this work? How have I gained body fat? Well the fact is that I have been so far below my daily requirement that my body had gone into a state of starvation. It will then take any opportunity to lay down a little fat, whilst slowing down the actions of the body and the organs to reserve fuel. It also uses its own muscles as fuel when in such a harsh state.

My friend on the other hand, had upped her levels in time to avoid this, and had done very well. Her one pound of body fat represents a fantastic calorie deficit of 500 per day! So well done her!

Fear not by the way - I am not wasting away! My 4 lb drop in lean tissue only represents a daily loss of 260 calories because of the way that the tissue is made up. Around 3lb of that is just water, whereas when we lose fat it is 100% fat!

So what to do now? Well my friend would be well advised to continue exactly as she has for the last 4 days and maintain her intake at 1800 calories. For my part, I need to be careful to get in my 1900 calories per day, and also to ensure that I am sufficiently fuelled for any sessions that I participate in. For the record, i took part in around 5 1/2 hours of exercise this week, of which about 3 hours would be considered vigorous. I am staying off my own training for the duration of this test - for YOU!! I may need to play around a little with my daily intake, and add a little extra for each hour that I train, but NOTE that when I entered my figures into the Dietchef website to get my daily allowance, I ticked the box that said "Moderate Exercise or sport 3-5 days a week.".

I have reassessed using the box "Hard Exercise or sport 6-7 days a week" and it asks me to intake 2200 calories per day. So using the 1500 plan (which only actually contains 900 calories) I will need to find 1300 of my own.

So what is my opinion of Diet Chef at the moment? Well it is clear that they have offended me by writing a response which managed to both question my knowledge and credibility and ignore the very valid points that I made. Despite this, I really want this test to work, and to be able to finally tell my clients about a product that solves their problem. So with a little bit of adjustment for my friend, and a lot of adjustment for me (but that is due to my job) I still think it could have some merit. What it does is allow you to know exactly what is in every meal of the day with no messing about. Is it the end of the world to have to add some bread and fruit? Well, let us see how next week goes.

Days 3-7

Posted by RWPT Personal Training on February 20, 2010 at 2:38 PM Comments comments (1)

Having left things for a few days to allow Dietchef to respond, let's get you up to date with the food plan.

I have been keeping a score of the meals provided in terms of taste - I will reveal that at the end. For now let me say simply that the majority of it is excellent, some of it is just pretty good and only one or two items have been just ok.

We tried to carry on keeping to the exact plan set out by the Dietchef manual, but with such a low calorie count, it was absolutely impossible. Even after I added in over 600 calories per day, I was only getting 1500 per day.

Whether it was psychological or not I do not know, but I have been feeling very hungry since day 2. So from day 4 onwards, we decided to ignore the manual and just ensure that we took in the recommended number of calories per day. For me this means adding a massive 950 calories per day to the plan.

My friend - depsite not being a personal trainer, but in fact what Sarika from Dietchef describes as an "average overweight person who perhaps does not exercise enough" still needs to add an incredible 1100 calories top her plan to get the right amount.

We decided to keep to the plan. Having to add so many calories makes this a really hard plan for my friend as she needs to think so hard about what to have. We agreed that she would have

The food provided by Dietchef

  • Approx 650 Kcal

The recommended additions: -

  • Half a pint of milk (95 Kcal)
  • 2 Portions of fruit (around 150-200 Kcal)
  • 1 Portion Veg (30-50 Kcal)

Another 600 calories as expected as she needs 1800 not 1200

  • 4 slices bread (400 Kcal)
  • 2 Yoghurts (200 Kcal)

And a further 250 calories because the plan is way under

  • An extra portion of veg (50 Kcal)
  • An extra yoghurt (100 Kcal)
  • An extra slice of bread (100 Kcal)

This is not too hard to work out, but does require far more thought than we had hoped from a plan that promises to deliver all your requirement in one convenient hamper.