Updated 06 February 2016

Zoe Harcome's 3-phase diet

One of the speakers at the Old Mutual Health Convention is author Zoë Harcombe, Cambridge graduate and author of six books and a diet and nutrition blog.

Prof Tim Noakes and Karen Thomson, founder of The Sugar Free Revolution Online Programme, hosted The Old Mutual Health Convention with internationally acclaimed doctors and researchers in South Africa in February 2015.

The event featured a number of international and local experts who will debate nutrition and the body. Health enthusiasts and medical professionals learnt more about the causes and circumstances surrounding obesity, as well as the benefits and physiological underpinnings of the highly popular LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat) diet.

Read:  Convention speaker Gary Taubes on why we really get fat

One of the speakers was internationally acclaimed author Zoë Harcombe. Zoë is a Cambridge graduate and author of six books and a diet and nutrition blog. She lives with her husband and rescued animals in the Welsh countryside.

ReadLow carb vs low fat diet – which is best for weight loss?

The Harcombe Diet

Why do you overeat, when all you want is to be slim? Is the title of Zoë Harcombe’s first book, which was published in 2004.

Zoë couldn’t believe that people were naturally too weak-willed to attain a slim body, and that there was a reason why we crave and binge on carbohydrate foods like bread, cake and fries.

ReadLow KJ diets make you fat

Her research led to the conclusion that a low calorie, low fat or any diet that requires you to eat less, will cause your body to resist your efforts, and will probably cause it to develop three medical conditions (Candida, hypoglycaemia and food intolerance).

This will give you addict-like cravings and wreck your diet. No wonder the more people try to starve, the more they end up bingeing.

The Harcombe diet involves ditching fake food in favour of real food (meat, fish, eggs, vegetables [except potatoes/mushrooms]), natural live (bio) yoghurt, herbs, spices and one portion of "safe" grains daily (brown rice, quinoa, oats).

Followers don't limit the amount they eat by calorie-counting – instead, it's about "making the calories you eat count".

The Harcombe Diet is divided into in three phases. Phase one last for five days and allows you to lose weight quickly, (and the record weight loss is eight kilograms).

In phase two you learn three rules that will help you to reach your natural weight and maintain it.

And in phase three you learn how to “cheat”, which enables you to eat your favourite foods without gaining any weight.

Read: Convention speaker Dr Jason Fung on insulin toxicity and reversing type 2 diabetes 

Weight and obesity

Zoë is a qualified nutritionist with a Diploma in Diet & Nutrition and a Diploma in Clinical Weight Management. First and foremost, however, she is an obesity researcher and her major goal in life is to reverse the obesity epidemic.

Read: Understanding obesity

She explains how this started and what we need to do to stop it in her 2010 book, The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it?

In 2008 Zoë left corporate life to focus full time on diet and health and since then she has, apart from her writing, set up the Harcombe Diet Club to provide online support for people who reject processed foods in favour of natural foods.

Read: Food is your medicine

What triggered Zoë’s research was trying to understand why obesity increased almost tenfold in the UK between 1972 and the end of the twentieth century. Her conclusion was that the dietary advice that we are getting changed. We started moving away from fats and increased our carbohydrate consumption, which lead to huge increases in obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Watch Ms Harcombe explain why a calorie is not a calorie and you should stop counting them

Read more:

Pro low carb diets:

Tim Noakes on how it works and why this is a lifestyle more than a diet
Tim Noakes diet is put to the test
Video: why a low-carb diet is good for you
A scheduled high-fat diet may curb obesity
Video: Tim Noakes talks about his book The Real Meal Revolution
Carb and sugar addiction is fuelling SA's obesity epidemic
Tim Noakes says refined carbs may be toxic
Tim Noakes: the heart disease theory 'has failed'
Tim Noakes: poor children should eat animal organs
Is the Tim Noakes Diet affecting your hair, skin and nails?
Why we get fat, by Gary Taubes
Could the LCHF/ Banting diet help prevent or control ADHD?

Anti low carb diets:

Tim Noakes' critics shun the low carb high fat health summit
Pregnant moms on the high-fat diet may be putting their offspring's life at risk
Why a high-fat diet is bad for the body clock
A high-fat diet could up the risk of pancreatic cancer
High protein diets increase your chances of developing kidney disease
DietDoc asks: why are we always chasing quick-fix diets?
Warning issued regarding HFLC and high protein diets
Too much, too soon, Tim Noakes!
Banting/Noakes diet discriminates against women
Noakes slammed by UCT professors
Patrick Holford: banting is dangerous
Heart Foundation's open letter to Tim Noakes
Experts warn against Noakes diet
We debate Tim Noakes on which diet will save the world

TIP: Visit our partner site Food24 for some excellent LCHF recipes.


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Lifestyle »

E-cigarettes: Here are five things to know

E-cigarettes have become hugely popular in the past decade, but a rash of vaping-linked deaths and illnesses in the US is feeding caution about a product that's already banned in some places.

Allergy »

Ditch the itch: Researchers find new drug to fight hives

A new drug works by targeting an immune system antibody called immunoglobulin E, which is responsible for the allergic reaction that causes hives.