DOCTOR Mosley, creator of one of the most well known and acclaimed (because it works) weight loss plans, the 5:2, has written a new book called The Fast 800.
Although not intended to be followed long term, the doctor says that it is a proven way to lose up to a stone in only three weeks—which might be very welcome to those of us planning our summer holidays.
He also points to extensive research showing that sticking to 800 calories a day for just eight weeks could enable people with diabetes to completely reverse their condition and come off all medication, as he did himself, and lose up to 14kg, most of which will be fat rather than muscle or fluids. And to a study showing that only five days on the diet is enough to trigger changes which can reduce the risk of cancer. (Note: do not engage with the plan if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, suffering ill health or on medication without the approval of your GP).
Dr Mosley’s studies have shown that—just for this short period of time-- 800 calories is low enough to produce these health benefits, but high enough to be manageable and safe.
He also demonstrates how Time Restricted Eating (intermittent fasting), which involves eating two or three proper meals within a window of, say, eight to 12 hours has been shown to boost the process, largely because it allows the good gut bacteria that help control appetite and weight gain to do their job. But also because, as other experts have pointed out, constant snacking creates a drip feed of the insulin that brings on both hunger and the laying down of fat.
But what I like most about Dr Mosley’s plan is that it’s both tasty and healthy—no anaemic cottage cheese and crackers in sight, fairly low carb but full of vital nutrients, fibre and healthy fats from vegetables, pulses and some whole grains, full fat dairy, oily fish, olive oil, eggs, nuts and seeds. It’s a Mediterranean-based model, which as I never tire of saying is just about the healthiest in the world.
The first thing to do is to clear your kitchen of all the temptations. ‘Willpower’ he says, ‘is hugely overrated. There is a lot of truth behind the saying “out of sight, out of mind”.’
Things to bin or give away include breakfast cereals (except real oats), cakes, biscuits, sweets (except dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa) crisps, snack bars, ready made meals and sauces, crackers, tropical fruits, fruit juices and sweetened/soft drinks. Have ready cut vegetable sticks in the fridge to eat with a handful of nuts if you need a snack.
Here are some examples of the quick and easy new recipes on offer.
Baked Salmon with Eggs (300 cals, serves 2)
Preheat the oven to 200C. Lightly grease four holes of a muffin tray. Line the holes with 150g smoked salmon. Whisk 4 eggs with chopped chives and pepper, add a handful of chopped baby spinach or leftover greens, and divide the mixture between the holes. Sprinkle with a little parmesan and bake for 15 mins or until the eggs look set. Serve with lettuce, tomato and cucumber.
Rhubarb and Ginger (77 cals, serves 4)
In a pan combine 400g trimmed and diced rhubarb, the juice of half an orange, and 3 knobs of stem ginger in syrup (drained and diced). Cover and simmer until softened. Serve hot or cold with 1Tbsp Greek yoghurt (and for a few more calories some chopped nuts).
Pea and Spinach Soup (130 cals, serves 2)
In a pan over a medium heat, combine 200g frozen peas, 100 frozen spinach, 1 chopped garlic clove, and half a stock cube. Add 500ml water and some pepper and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 mins and then blend roughly. Dollop a Tbsp Greek yoghurt onto each bowl.
Pork Steak with White Bean Mash (466 cals, serves 2)
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan, and sauté a diced onion until it’s translucent. Add 2 diced cloves of garlic for another minute, then stir in a tin of cannellini beans (or other white bean), including the water, and cook gently for 10 mins stirring occasionally. Add some finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, and some salt and pepper, and mash well.
Gently fry 2 175g pork steaks in a little olive oil, turning once, until the juices run clear. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve with the mash and plenty of steamed green veg.
Chilli Chocolate Thins (75 cals, serves 6-8)
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Melt 75g dark chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir in a pinch of chilli powder (if liked), then pour the mixture onto the tray, spreading it out to a couple of millimetres thickness. Scatter with 2Tbsp chopped pistachio nuts and let to set in the fridge. Serve with strawberries or just as an after-dinner nibble.