Dr Michael Mosle y’s NEW FAST 800 DIET
From the creator of the 5:2... 24-PAGE PULLOUT
ODD though it sounds, last year I decided to try piling on the pounds. I didn’t go mad, but I started to put away far more toast and pasta, and indulged in lots of snacks. It took me several months to put on a stone (over 6kg), taking me to just over 13st (my height is 5ft 11in).
Now this sounds like a pretty foolish thing to do, particularly when you consider that the reason I’d come up with the 5:2 diet in the first place was because I’d been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and wanted to reverse it without medication. I managed to do so by losing 1st 5lb (9kg).
Putting most of that weight back on sent my blood sugar soaring back into the diabetic range. My waist ballooned from 32 to 37in and I started hiding my new paunch with baggy shirts. My sleep was terrible and I felt sluggish, moody and hungry much of the time. I found it almost impossible to pass a shop and not buy chocolate.
My wife, Clare, who is a GP, was monitoring my health. As the months went by, she became increasingly worried. When she told me I was looking older, greyer and that I was snoring really loudly, I knew it was time to act.
So why had I decided to put on weight? Well, it was partly because I wanted to find out what would happen when I did. But it was mainly because I normally only recommend health regimes that I’ve tried on myself. And earlier in the year I’d put together a new, hopefully improved version of the 5:2 which I wanted to test.
When I came up with the original 5:2 diet in 2012 (where dieters ate restricted calories — 600 for men or 500 for women — for two days a week), intermittent fasting was a radical idea, but one that really resonated.
The Fast Diet rapidly became an international bestseller, translated into more than 40 languages. The diet was embraced by a wide range of people, including doctors, politicians, celebrities and Nobel Prize winners. People found it effective but it was clearly not the final word.
In the six years since, there’s been a lot of new scientific research into intermittent fasting and weight loss. I’ve also received a tremendous amount of useful feedback from people who’ve tried the 5:2. So I decided to put it all together and create something easier and more effective. To test my new regime for practicality I needed to put on the weight so I could shed it again.
And you know what? The new regime is better than the original. That claim is based not just on my personal experience but on lots of recent studies. It’s why I’ve updated my plan in a new book, The Fast 800, which is being serialised by the Irish Daily Mail all next week.
There are a lot of refinements and improvements, from what you should eat to when you should eat it, but one thing that has become increasingly clear to me is that 800 calories appears to be a ‘magic’ number when it comes to weight loss. Eight hundred calories a day may not sound like much but — as you’ll see in the free 24-page magazine full of calorie-controlled recipes included in today’s You Magazine — if you choose the right foods then 800 calories can be tasty and filling.
But isn’t 800 calories a day a rapid weight loss diet, and aren’t they bad for you? Not if you do it right. In the past 12 months several important studies show that, if done properly, sticking to 800 calorie days is safe and can be hugely beneficial.
PROFESSOR Roy Taylor is a diabetes specialist at Newcastle University, who has appeared on a number of TV programmes here, including Operation Transformation. When we first met, four years ago, he told me the main reason I had managed to knock my diabetes on the head was because, by doing the 5:2, I had lost a significant amount of internal fat, fast.
Losing weight had drained the fat out of my liver and pancreas, restoring my blood sugars to normal. He also told me that he, and a colleague, Professor Mike Lean of Glasgow University, were about to put a rapid weight loss diet to the test by conducting a big study in general practices.
That study, Direct, was published in early 2018. It showed that an 800-calorie-a-day diet not only led to impressive weight loss (an average of 10kg, maintained for over a year) but also helped nearly half their patients with type 2 diabetes come off medication and restore their blood sugars to normal. The results were so impressive that doctors now plan to carry out further trials.
Another big randomised study called Droplet, carried out by Professor Susan Jebb and colleagues from Oxford University, also confirmed, in late 2018, the benefits of doing a rapid weight loss diet based on 800 calories a day, even if you don’t have diabetes. As she pointed out to me ‘the results were phenomenal, like nothing that has been seen in primary care before’.
So I decided to combine this 800 calorie rapid-weight-loss approach with the 5:2 and test it on myself — which is why I put the weight on.
Once I’d got properly paunchy again, I started on the fast track phase (see overleaf), sticking to 800 calories a day and using recipes similar to those you will find in today’s You Magazine and in the pull-outs all next week.
I added in a new fasting trick, called ‘Time Restricted Eating’ — which I also explain overleaf — and made sure I only ate food within a strict 12-hour window. My plan was to finish eating by 8pm and then not eat anything until at least 8am the next morning.
So how did I get on? Well, sticking to 800 calories a day every day was not as challenging as I feared it might be. Yes I was hungry and a bit grumpy to begin with, but after a few days the cravings and the bursts of hunger passed. Mostly.
Trying to fit this rapid weightloss diet around a busy filming schedule meant I had to combine using meal replacement shakes when I was on the road with real food when I was at home.
In the first four days I lost an impressive 6lb. I knew some of that would be water because I was eating fewer calories than normal, but my blood sugar levels and my blood pressure fell very swiftly too. At times my energy levels felt lower. But after just two weeks on 800 calories a day, every day, I lost 11lb and tests showed that my blood sugar levels and blood pressure were back to normal.
I decided this would be a good time to switch to the next phase of my new 5:2 and have two 800 calorie days a week, eating healthily for the other five.
As an experiment, I tried my fast days back to back (Mondays and
Tuesdays) in a bid to increase the fasting benefit, and found that also helped.
On this part of the plan, I realised I had more energy and also found I could push myself harder without feeling drained. I continued to eat caloriecounted Mediterranean-style menus on my fast days and I allowed myself to eat more freely on non-fast days — even enjoying the odd glass of wine. It was, I have to admit, surprisingly easy.
Three weeks and five days after I started, I had lost a stone, and was back to my previous healthy weight. My blood sugar levels, blood pressure (and everything else) were back to normal.
So I can report, with my hand on my hopefully healthy heart, that this diet is eminently doable. So why not give it a go?