Diet Chef is an online business based in Scotland that delivers calorie counted meals to thousands of customers in the UK and Europe.
While many diets involve a technique for healthy eating and weight loss, with the consumer cooking meals according to the system, Diet Chef completes the circle by delivering food to the consumer in ready-made packages.
The company was co-founded in 2007 by entrepreneur and chef Kevin Dorren.
How does Diet Chef work?
The company markets itself to consumers as like having your own personal chef who plans your meals, measures out the portions and does all the cooking for you.
You pay a set fee and the company delivers a hamper containing a seven day supply of meals and snacks.
There are two daily calorie choices with the meal plans averaging less than 1,200 or 1,500 calories a day: a 1,200 calorie mainly designed for women and a 1,500 calorie version pitched at men, or women who are very active – or who have a lot of weight to lose.
The cost of the meals varies according to which calorie package you want and the length of contract you sign up to. Prices range from £39 to £60 per week.
Diet Chef says that, apart from providing customers with food, it also offers advice from trained counsellors either online or on the phone.
What can you eat with Diet Chef?
Diet Chef hampers come with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to help with any hunger pangs in between. The food can be stored in a cupboard until needed and then heated on the hob or microwaved.
The 1,500 calorie hamper has either an additional milkshake, soft cookie or choice of muesli bars to choose from each day.
The company says there are 70 variations to choose from to help prevent boredom and a wide enough variety of food, including vegetarian options, to cover most tastes.
A typical example of a day’s food choices would be:
Original granola, or
Sweet potato and coconut soup, or
Mixed bean salad
Chilli con Carne, or
Mushroom Risotto, or
Fruit oat biscuits, or
Cheese oat bites, or
Sweet and salty popcorn
In addition to the packaged meals, customers are encouraged to consume an average of two portions of fruit, three portions of vegetables and 500ml of semi-skimmed milk each day for a healthy, balanced diet.
What do the experts say about Diet Chef?
“For anybody trying to lose weight, a calorie deficit is always advised, says Dale Rees, a registered dietitian and spokesman for the British Dietetic Association (BDA). “This is best achieved by using a combination of lowering your total calorie intake and increasing your energy expenditure – basically eating less and doing more.”
Dale Rees says, aside from helping to lower calorie intake, Diet Chef offers advice about speeding up your metabolism.
Other positive aspects of the diet are that it is low in fat and saturated fat and has a total salt content below the maximum daily recommendations of 6g. The diet is also high in fibre. “What I like about the company is that it seems to be using sound science to back its ideas and approach,” says Dale Rees. “As an evidence based practitioner this gets the thumbs up from me. They also seem to offer a safer approach: allowing fruit and vegetables and advising on physical activity.”
On the minus side, he says he has heard criticism from people who have followed these types of meal replacement plans that small portion sizes mean they are not very sustainable. ” I do feel that the small meal portions, without adding extra vegetables, will leave many hungry and thus increase temptations for the wrong types of food, such as that old favourite chocolate bar,” he tells us.
One other criticism he makes is that, having meals delivered to the door that only require a quick spin in the microwave, means there is no opportunity to learn about food and nutrition. “Providing knowledge on preparing meals and cooking can help someone to learn to identify healthier alternatives and make informed choices,” he says. “If we want to eat better in the long term, we must all have access to information on how to do it right. Diet Chef takes out the hard work of meal planning, teaching you little about food and cooking.”