The Danish Diet

Commonly referred to as the "Royal Danish Hospital Diet," or the "Copenhagen Diet," the Danish diet is a 13-day eating plan that promises massive weight loss between 10 to 20 pounds or more. Circulated on the Internet as a way to reset your metabolism, the Danish Diet has no known author and no scientific data or clinic trials supporting its claims, efficacy or safety. Discuss your weight-loss goals with your doctor before beginning a diet plan.

Lean beef is a main component of the Danish diet menu. (Image: artisteer/iStock/Getty Images)


According to the website, you can lose up to 22 pounds in 13 days on this diet by avoiding fruits and grains while strictly following a specific menu plan that includes lean beef, eggs, lettuce and coffee. Deviations from the diet, such as sugar-free gum, are forbidden. When your 13 days are over, the website claims, you will no longer crave grease or sweets because the diet changes your metabolism and your preferences. The 13-day menu is sold online for $14 in 2011, but dieters are cautioned that, despite its benefits, you should not continue the plan for longer than 13 days and should not repeat the plan more than once every two years.


Because of the extremely low caloric intake of approximately 600 calories per day, people on the Danish diet may feel weak, hungry, tired and be receptive to illness. Because this diet cuts certain food groups, you may suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and the diet may poorly affect your cholesterol. Nutritionist and biochemist Dr. Ingrid V. Van Heerden, a contributor to the Health24 website, encourages you to avoid this eating plan because it is unbalanced, lacking in fruits, whole grains and dairy, which can lead to kidney problems and bowel impaction.

Expert Insight

The Weight-Control Information Network, an information service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, suggests that very-low-calorie diets be administered only by your physician, using commercially prepared formulas that include all your vital micronutrients to ensure you do not lack any nutritional requirements. Unless your body mass index is more than 30 or you suffer from weight-related health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, very-low-calorie diets should not be considered. Even with medically supervised diets, side effects such as fatigue, constipation, nausea and gallstones are common, as well as weight regain.

Healthy Weight Loss

Rather than a 13-day plan, consider making permanent, sustainable lifestyle changes that include social support, keeping a food journal and incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine. Aim for weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week, which you can maintain without feeling sick or sluggish, and this weight loss will include mostly fat instead of the water and muscle you lose during rapid weight loss. Van Heerden recommends 45 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day in addition to a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and a reduction of sweetened beverages and alcohol.

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