Saturday, July 17, 2010

Diet: Ice Cube Diet

Some of you may take your drinks on the rocks. How about your diet? There's a novel new approach to weight loss. And it's all about ice.

It's called the Ice Cube Diet. But can it really help you lose weight? Alicia Puma says yes.

Puma drops a Hoodia-filled ice cube in her glass of water or she eats an ice cube straight. The cubes come in the mail already frozen and packed in dry ice.

"You take once ice cube daily," Puma said. "It tastes great, like a margarita. It gives you a wonderful burst of energy."

But Puma is now speaking for the company that manufactures the Ice Cube Diet. She says she lost 25 pounds on the plan and was hired to become a spokeswoman.

Hoodia come from a desert plant native to Africa. It is said to reduce appetite.

"Would I try it? The answer is 'no,'" said dietician Roberta Anding.

Anding says she's concerned that two pharmaceutical companies backed away from Hoodia.

"Pfizer actually tried to develop this into a drug and stopped its clinical trials without any real explanation," she said. "And Unilever, which makes Slim-Fast, was going to make a dink with Hoodia and they also discontinued development."

"The difference from those other companies is that they processed it (Hoodia) into pill form," explained Puma. "And when you do that, you destroy the structure of the plant."

One study showed women did lose weight on the program. But Anding says more studies on Hoodia's safety and effectiveness is needed.

The ice cube diet is relatively inexpensive - averaging about $1.50 a day.


The Ice Cube Diet might sound like something out of a mock SNL commercial, but we swear: It’s real. The plan is based around “natural Hoodia satiety cubes” made by Desert Labs, which are meant to naturally curb hunger. Hoodia is a medicinal desert plant that’s also a natural appetite suppressant, and is usually dried, ground, and put into capsules, but the Ice Cube Diet actually uses fresh, raw hoodia that’s been frozen within 24 hours of harvesting.

The diet is simple: Take a hoodia cube once a day when you feel like having a snack, and watch your cravings disappear. They claim that the cubes have stronger cumulative effects, so the real appetite control might kick in after about 4-6 days of use. The diet also comes with an informational packet that includes Portion Control for Weight Loss Tips from the Mayo Clinic, but otherwise the company doesn’t suggest restrictions on intake of any particular foods.

Frozen cubes of fresh, raw hoodia that control your appetite sound pretty fantastic, so we decided to test them out in the Blisstree office. Here’s what our testers had to say:

How did it taste?
Tester 1: “I quite enjoyed the taste. It tasted like a sweet plant, but it definitely did taste somewhat artificial.”
Tester 2: “It tasted weird, but kind of good. Like a fake kind of sugar; sort of sweet and tart.”

Did you enjoy eating the ice cubes, or did it feel like a chore?
Tester 1: “I really enjoyed it and it was kind of addictive! The cubes numbed my mouth a bit which was oddly nice, and it tasted good so I really liked it. I found myself definitely craving more than the recommended 1/day.”
Tester 2: “It was really easy. It’s just a strange thing to have to remember – I don’t usually eat ice cubes for the sake of eating ice cubes.”

Did you notice any big differences in appetite or energy?
Tester 1: “Energy: Definitely. Appetite: Not really. I barely noticed a difference.”
Tester 2: “I felt like it gave me energy and suppressed my appetite for a few (2-3) hours after eating it. But after that time period, I didn’t feel much of a change.”

If you’ve taken other appetite suppressants, how did this one compare?

Tester 1: “I find that in comparison to hoodia pills or green tea, this just didn’t cut it in terms of weight loss. I didn’t notice my appetite being supressed at all. However, they tasted way better and I enjoyed eating them.”
Tester 2: “I’ve never taken appetite suppressants before.”

If you’ve taken other hoodia supplements before, how did this one compare?
Tester 1: “I didn’t feel the same appetite changes from these.”
Tester 2: “I’ve never taken hoodia supplements before. As a matter of fact, this experiment was my first introduction to the idea of hoodia.”

What’s the verdict, would you keep using it?
Tester 1: “They were yummy, but I wouldn’t spend the money. If they were free? Yep.”
Tester 2: “My butt says: ‘Keep using it for a while longer, just to see what happens.’ My gut says: ‘This has to be a scam.’”

So is it a scam? If it actually works well enough to help you skip a snack, the price is probably justified: A 40-day supply costs $64.95. That’s about $1.62/day, which is probably less than you’d spend on an energy bar or bag of chips to snack on in the afternoon. Our verdict? It’s natural, tasty, and easy to use (as long as you’ve got a freezer at work), so we say go for it. Just don’t overuse it, or justify eating badly the rest of the day because you’re skipping a snack.