January the 9th 2013 changed my life. Fed up with constantly trying to lose the same half a stone, I decided I needed to try something new – the Educogym diet. That day, therefore, saw me wandering wide-eyed (and wide-hipped) into the underground gym of Educogym Harley Street in London.
Today, January 23rd I weigh 9lb less, I’ve dropped three percent body fat, virtually no muscle, and my stomach is pencil skirt flat (as it would be considering it’s 5cm smaller). If you want the Cliffnotes version, stop now – Educogym works, but if you want the details, read on for the rest of the Educogym review. After all, in my case, it wasn’t exactly no pain for the gain.
What Does the Educogym Diet Involve?
Let’s start at the beginning – my reason for choosing Educogym was simple. Laziness. They claim that their 12 days intensive program can see you drop around half a stone in that time – and you would do it doing just 15-20 minutes of exercise a day. Excellent – potentially massive results with minimum time.
It was only once I was sat in front of them that they mentioned the word ‘nutrition’. I hadn’t actually registered that there would even BE an Educogym diet plan, let alone thought about what it might take to lose that much weight that fast.
By this point, however, I had seen full-length photos of myself in a gym kit – from all angles (something you won’t be doing). If they’d said ‘you’re going to survive on donkey dung for 12 days, I’d have said ‘lead me to the mule’ – thankfully, it wasn’t (quite) that bad.
In fact, at first glance, the Educogym diet plan actually didn’t sound too bad. Educogym is a high-fat diet – what we know now as a keto diet. My shopping list included things like full-fat cream cheese, smoked salmon, streaky bacon, macadamia nuts – and double cream to put in my tea. Things I haven’t consumed either at all or without guilt for about 20 years!
Shopping that evening I skipped around Sainsbury’s like the proverbial child in a sweetshop.
How Does the Educogym Diet Work?
The principle is simple – of the three macronutrients you can consume fat produces the lowest rise in the fat-storing hormone insulin.
Protein is next lowest, carbs trigger the greatest rise (exactly how much depending on their GI rating).
All low carb or low GI diets aim to reduce and/or balance insulin levels in the body which triggers fat burning.
The Educogym diet however, focuses heavily on fat as the idea is not just to merely reduce insulin but flat line it. This gives your body no option but to draw on your own fat stores for fuel.
You combine the diet with a very specific strength training workout that aims to preserve the muscle mass you would normally lose shedding weight so quickly – one day legs, one day chest and back, one day shoulder and arms – and an abs routine you do daily.
You lift the heaviest weight you can (with good form) at a rapid rate for just a few reps – there’s no resting between sets and no resting between moves. You are literally in and out within 15 minutes – but it’s a seriously tough 15 minutes.
Now I admit, I am not the first journalist to try Educogym. Lots of them have done it, you probably saw a few Educogym reviews on google before you stopped at this one, but what was going to be different about me was that I wasn’t going to do it in their gym.
Because it’s a three-hour round trip for me to go into London, it wasn’t massively feasible for me go to Harley Street daily to do my 15-minute workout – so, I was going to be their first take-home client. This turned out to cause me a few problems, but, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, let me tell you what this would mean to me….
How My Educogym Experience Was Different
If you’re doing the monitored program you workout on the special gizmo above and the number of people in the gym is strictly limited. I was at my normal gym. To be able to jump from machine to machine fast, I was going to need to go to the gym at the quietest time of day – 3pm, which meant putting the gym ahead of any other commitment in my day (including work).
I was going to have to work harder than I probably wanted to push myself – I needed to be at breaking point by the sixth rep of each set. This is tough to do on your own – especially if, like me, you have zero upper body strength.
I could not go out socially – the diet is very carefully measured and because my exercise wasn’t being monitored my trainer Jagir wanted me to focus on getting the nutrition precisely right to counteract any shortfall from my not working hard enough during my workouts. I had to cancel my whole social life and all work meetings (which in my world normally involve wine or cake) for 12 days.
Going into the plan, these were what I thought would be my hurdles. Turns out I was wrong – very, very wrong. My mind was in the right place to workout so fitting the exercise in and pushing myself was simple, and, it turned out social exile also wasn’t an issue. The issue was the diet…… Warning, it gets whiney – and there’s a tiny bit of vomiting!
My Educogym 12 Day Plan Diary
This bit of my Educogym review is my diary of the 12 days of eating written day by day while I was on it. Warning 1 – it’s long……
Before you start reading though remember, every other person who does Educogym does it under close supervision. You will see a trainer daily while you exercise and they can adjust anything that isn’t working for you – because of the distance between Harley Street and my house I didn’t do that. I went rogue. They gave me the diet, they gave me a take-home exercise plan and we decided to see what happened…..the result was incredible weight loss, but I suffered for it.
That’s why, even though I think this plan is brilliant, I’m not giving away specifics – you really don’t want to follow this thing without someone to tweak it. Read on, to see why. Warning 2 – things are about to get whiney. Very, very whiney.
Breakfast is cheese and walnuts: It’s delicious, I’m enthused. Because I have to take a supplement with very specific food and exercise timings, I must eat lunch early 11am. This doesn’t go so well. It’s smoked salmon, cream cheese and a small salad. It looks great – four mouthfuls in though and it’s just too rich. I can’t actually stomach it. I don’t eat any more. This means two hours later I’m hungry – but I can’t eat again until 6pm. Dinner is pork, spinach and cheese sauce with pinenuts. It’s pretty good.
Wake up with a headache that started last night. The scales tell me I’ve lost a kilo so I don’t care! My trainer Jagir has checked in and I’ve told him I’m having problems with the cheese already. He says to swap it for avocado. Today’s lunch is delicious – smoked mackerel, rocket and avocado. He’s also told me to skip breakfast as I have to eat lunch so early.
Psychologically this grates (although it’s true that there’s now also a school of thought that says breakfast is overrated too), but I do it – and today the hunger isn’t so bad. I manage to last until 6pm for dinner – albeit shovelling some of my pine nut allocation into my mouth as I cook. It’s lamb with Brussels and more cheese sauce and pine nuts.
400gm more has gone. The headache has been joined by a cold – the first one I’ve had in I don’t know how long. I knew it was coming, but normally when I feel a cold I have a plan: litres of orange juice, Sambucol tablets, Echinacea. That stops them. Because two of those things contain sugar and sugar is bad (m’okay) I couldn’t do that so it’s here.
The food is now making me feel nauseous. Lunch is actually a breakfast meal scrambled eggs and avocado. It’s okay. Dinner however is steak, nuts, avocado and green beans. It should be delicious – I can’t finish it as I feel so sick. The feel of fat in my mouth is now so cloying, it’s like an oil slick. I’m drinking glass after glass of fizzy water to try and clear it.
300gm has gone – that’s 1.7kg along with 1.6% body fat according to my scales. There’s no denying the results are incredible (for my body anyway), but I’m now even dreading my morning tea – milk is too sugary so it has to be with double cream. The oil slick feeling in my mouth returns. I’m not sure what to eat for lunch – the very idea makes me feel sick. Every other review I’ve read makes the diet sound like a breeze, a treat – “ooh I can eat cheese, and steak and butter”, they say.
I just want to eat fruit and a tomato and not feel slimy any more.
The headache is still here and I’m abnormally cold. Admittedly I’m not sure how much of these two things are the cold and how much is the diet. I want to quit so badly…but that weight loss, it’s so tantalising. This is the lowest I’ve weighed in a year.
300gm more has gone. Jagir rings at 8am, I tell him I’m feeling a bit rough. He says that day four and five are when things normally change. I’m drinking my tea black. I throw it up half an hour later. Skip the gym today as in my book, exercising while vomiting is something only crazy people do. The idea of any of my allowed food disgusts me – I force down a half portion of cheese and nuts at 1.30pm. In the afternoon I feel normal – I’ve still got a cold but all the rest of it has gone. I think I’ve turned the corner. I’m still disgusted by the food though – I eat a breakfast dish for dinner – eggs with cream cheese and streaky bacon. The eggs are fine, the bacon is vile – I spit the fat out – need to cook it crispy next time. For the fifth night running I’m in bed by 9pm.
No weight loss. More black tea, last night’s return to normality has ended. I’m sick again (no, there isn’t something I need to tell you all) and now my energy is so low I can’t even get out of bed. I’m a morning person so this is not right. I’ve got a deadline this morning and can’t bring myself to write. I’ve had enough. I go to the shop and buy soup, the only thing I can face eating. I don’t care if it mucks it all up – life is too short to feel this miserable just to lose some weight. I start to feel better and make it to the gym in the afternoon.
No weight loss. Woke up at 6.00am this morning – was on the phone by 6.05am and pitching ideas at 8am. I’m like a different person, normal me.
My suspicions are that rather than the diet itself, the sickness problems may be being caused by the Amino acid supplement they’ve asked me to take as I didn’t take it in the morning the last two days and felt okay in the afternoon. I had been taking the night time dose though (2020 update: having now done high-fat dieting a few times, I definitely think that supplement disagreed with me – I normally feel a bit tired for days 2-3 of high-fat eating, but nowhere near as bad as I did this first time).
I’m off for a weigh-in. Their results tally with mine. 6lb lost, 2.5% body fat gone, no muscle lost. On my body that’s incredible. I also get to cuddle the Educogym ‘maggot of fat’ – it’s what 5lb of fat looks like and you can touch it when you’ve lost it. I’m so proud – even if it is a really fuzzy picture!
1kg gone. All change. When I went to see Jagir yesterday he was horrified that I’d been feeling so bad.
If I’d been going in daily apparently they’d have tweaked and shifted things by now – I may even, drumroll, have been allowed orange juice. The theory is that because I rarely eat fat (except in the form of pasty and curry) my body can’t cope with what I’m throwing at it. He does say the supplements can make people feel a bit queasy too.
They take me off the high-fat plan and I go onto the no-fat one – this is more like my normal diet: yoghurt and fruit for breakfast, salad and tuna for lunch – but with an added three-course protein-heavy dinner. Unlike the high-fat plan, this aims not to flatline insulin but merely to keep it low but stable throughout the day. I’m hungrier than I was on the fat plan, but at least I can face the food.
200g gone: This diet is much better – although the fact that I can eat fruit and yoghurt means that it’s more snack friendly means it is testing my willpower more than the other one.
On the fat plan, I couldn’t face eating more than twice a day but now I’m getting more tempted to nibble. Resisting so far though – even when The Boyfriend was eating (my) Freddo frogs and making peanut butter I stayed strong. I am rather desperate for a decent cup of tea though – black tea with lemon doesn’t cut it mid-afternoon. Still, must not moan – compared to how I felt about four days ago all is great. Even reading back on those past entries depresses me.
No weight loss. I had an orange for breakfast today – can’t remember the last time I ate a whole orange. They come under the criteria of sticky fruit in my book and sticky fruit doesn’t normally get consumed unless The Boyfriend peels it for me. Normally he throws the odd segment seal-feeding-like across the lounge at me – it’s like Seaworld with citrus.
Other than that not much to report. Weight loss has slowed, but I’m so happy with the results so far I can deal. Did have to miss the gym today because of snow though – gulp – there were a lot of press-ups in the spare room!
No weight loss. Sunday lunch at The Boyfriend’s mums – there was a potato (two) and a Yorkshire. I did, however, decline desert and went back on the plan immediately for dinner – am hoping all 7lb doesn’t go back on again tomorrow. Admittedly, I haven’t left the house socially either though as I can’t think of anywhere I can eat out and fit all the rules! Ah well, saving pounds as well as losing them I suppose.
No weight loss: See this is my body at its normal best – I eat chicken or tuna salad for days and absolutely nothing happens to the scales! I’m calculating that I’m consuming around 1000 calories a day and nada – ah well, at least it hasn’t gone up which means I can successfully maintain things if I’m careful. We’ll see what happens tomorrow when they get the callipers out – it could be that I’m still losing inches and body fat but my muscle is increasing. I’m looking forward to finding out.
So there you have it – my experience. Not normal apparently, but at least it was effective.
My Results and Lessons Learned
In case you missed it, in 12 days I lost 9lb – 8lb of that fat, 5cm vanished from my stomach and I’ve lost 3 per cent body fat. Of course,, now I have to keep it off.
While the first thing I did as soon as I left my weigh-in was to go for a massive bowl of noodles, I’m now following a fairly low carb diet – ie I’m limiting bread, pasta and rice to one or two meals a week for a bit, otherwise, I’m eating what I want, but taking on board a few valuable lessons.
You see, as disgusting as the first days of the diet were they have taught me a lot.
I don’t need as much food as I think I do to feel satisfied and the world doesn’t end if I get hungry – at my worst when I really couldn’t face food I went 24 hours without eating. I’m aware that’s not healthy behaviour and I’m certainly not going to make a habit of it, but for someone who overeats because she’s scared to feel hunger a lot of the time it taught me a valuable lesson about what happens if I don’t eat – absolutely nothing – this will stand me well when it comes to avoiding ‘just in case’ food in the future.
I’m also now only eating breakfast on days when I actively feel hungry – generally I eat less throughout the day when I do that. I’ve also broken the habit of snacking in the afternoon and need to keep it that way.
Exercise wise, I really enjoy the approach I’m using so I’m going to keep that up – but I’ve got to add more cardio now as I’ve got a half marathon to train for. Zana – owner of Educogym – says that should be fine, but for now she’d prefer me to stick to no more than 20 minutes of running for most sessions and do intervals when I can. That’s fine with me.
It’s now five days after I finished and the scales are fluctuating daily – when I do eat a carb they go up (a lot) but on days I don’t I’m hovering 100gm lower than when I finished. Let’s hope it stays that way. Wish me luck now.
Fast forward into the future….
As I said, when I did this, high fat eating was very, very niche and ketosis was something I’d only heard about in relation to diabetes. How times change…in fact, a year or so after I wrote this post, I actually ended up writing a book on high fat eating with Zana called The High Fat Diet.
It’s not exactly the same as the diet you follow on the Educogym plan – it’s a bit more flexible, the fat levels are different and there are no supplements involved – but it does follow high-fat principles and, having done it a couple of times over the years (I love beer and too much to stay keto for life – and I have a tendency to eat everything I see on holidays which then requires drastic action) I can tell you it works.
I also know a lot more about how to handle any side effects of keto if they occur (see some ideas on reducing keto side effects here) so I could probably have nipped a few of the symptoms I experienced in the bud.
You will lose at least half a stone in 10 days – I normally lose about 10lb and my stomach vanishes (this pic for my Flipbelt testing piece was taken after a spate on it) – and, if I don’t eat everything in sight it will stay off.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.