This article is part of our Stupid Diet Series, therefore we do not recommend this diet.
This diet does not have any ratings or reviews online from people who have tried it, and one can only conclude that this is because anybody who is intelligent enough to use the internet is also intelligent enough not to starve themselves for months, eating only a mysterious ‘meat smoothie’ once a day.
The Last Chance Diet was invented in the 1970s by Dr Roger Linn, and was heralded as a revolutionary cure for obesity when it was first introduced. The premise is simple: you eat nothing, ever, for months on end. Your only source of sustenance is water, and about 400g of protein delivered by a special product called Prolinn, taken once a day.
The basic premise behind the Last Chance diet is that it’s a last resort when all other diets have failed. The idea is that your body will go into ‘starvation’ mode and use up all of its own resources. The concoction they have you drink is pure protein and easily digestible, giving you just enough fuel to stay alive.
In addition to this, diet pills, diet soda, vitamin pills and coffee or tea were also prescribed at the doctor’s discretion. The formula, Prolinn, was available at health food stores without a prescription.
People were reported to have lost between 50-80lbs while on the Last Chance Diet for a period of 5 months or more.
What’s In It
The Last Chance or Prolinn diet can’t really be called a diet, because it doesn’t prescribe things that you should eat. All it says you should eat is their product, a ‘smoothie’ made from raw cowhide, horns, offal, hooves, sinews and tendons – all the stuff from the slaughterhouse that isn’t meaty enough to go into processed meats.
Added to this is an army of fortifiers, preservatives, artificial flavourings and colorants which make the concoction palatable, and also ‘predigest’ it, meaning that your body has to expend as little energy to digest it as possible.
Who’s On It
Hopefully nobody, anymore. However, Roger Linn’s book sold over two million copies, and at the height of the diet’s popularity in 1977 over two million were supposedly on this diet of no food at all.
The diet wasn’t something you’d find your waif-like celebrities on, however, because it was generally used as a cure for obesity. Millions of Americans did try it out, and the idea was that you could be on this starvation diet for up to nine months at a time.
Why You Might Want to Avoid It
At the height of the Last Chance Diet’s popularity 1977, there were 26 reported deaths that have been directly linked to the Prolinn formula. Since then there have been over 50 deaths that have been linked to the Last Chance diet in one way or another, most of them heart attacks.
Original warnings on the Prolinn formula containers were that maintaining a high protein diet could lead to kidney complications. However, what they didn’t tell you was that the Last Chance diet was by no means a high protein diet. The 400g of protein you got from drinking ground up leather gave you barely enough energy to carry on breathing and blinking.
The main problem was the artificial sweeteners and other chemicals they put in the formula, combined with the whole not ever eating anything thing. It turns out some people respond badly to this combination, and the chemicals in Prolinn may have aggravated existing heart conditions.
In addition, the daily intake of some protein meant that peoples bodies were not displaying the normal signs of starvation, so even doctors wouldn’t spot their impending cardiac collapse coming.
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