Dr MICHAEL MOSLEY's guide to cutting the calories

The delicious way to kick-start weight loss: From breakfast smoothies to miso soup with cabbage noodles and a blueberry and coconut shake… Dr MICHAEL MOSLEY’s guide to cutting the calories

Concerned by the impact of weight gain on our health, the Mail’s new columnist Dr MICHAEL MOSLEY has devised a Shape Up Britain series to reduce our waistlines and improve our wellbeing. 

Continuing today and all this week, we follow the progress of 30 volunteers who’ve road-tested the plan and reveal the delicious recipes that worked for them — and can work for you, too. 

When Kieron Bateman, one of our 30 Shape Up Britain volunteers, realised his new food limit was just 800 calories a day, he admits feeling panicked.

‘There are more calories in a family size bag of nuts, so I wondered what on earth I would be eating,’ says the HGV mechanic, 32, from Chudleigh, Devon.

‘My job is pretty physical — I’m lifting heavy equipment and probably do around 14,000 steps a day, so I worried I would be hungry. I also prefer plain food. The idea of, say, banana pancakes for breakfast was anathema. But I surprised myself by what I was eating.’

By limiting yourself to eating this amount a day for a short time, you get all the nutrients you need but will see impressive early weight loss

Eight weeks on he has a new love of cooking. He’s now making Mediterranean-style meals with fresh ingredients, rather than relying on chicken burgers and oven chips. He also has fresh veg such as kale and spinach with every meal.

Even better, Kieron has already lost 1st 10lb (11kg) He also has more energy, not less, showing that the Fast 800 programme, where you start on just over 800 calories a day, is not only effective, but doable.

Kieron is typical of many people with expanding waistlines. And now is the time to take action.

If you catch Covid, being overweight puts you at greater risk of hospitalisation — and death. That’s why I teamed up with the Daily Mail for the Shape Up Britain challenge — which I hope will encourage you to scrutinise your weight, diet and lifestyle and commit, like Kieron and other volunteers, to transforming your health.

On Saturday, we told how two communities at different ends of the country were asked to try a weight-loss programme based on my Fast 800 diet for eight weeks.

In total, 30 men and women from all walks of life — with different body types, ages and health problems — followed the plan, devised with the help of my GP wife Dr Clare Bailey. Their successes exceeded our hopes.

They lost 39st 8lb between them — with most (23 of the 30) losing a stone or more and our star slimmer losing over two.

All this week, I will be sharing their stories and bringing you the delicious recipes they enjoyed.

I know the Fast 800 works as it has been tested by Oxford University researchers and thousands of people, including me. In my mid-50s (I’m now 63), I hit 13½st and developed type 2 diabetes — which killed my father.

But I lost 1½ st and reversed the diagnosis through my 5:2 diet, which limited my calorie intake to 800 for two days a week and eating healthily on the others.

In response to scientific studies, I’ve adapted the plan so, if you’re suitable, you start a rapid weight-loss phase while on about 800 calories a day (this lasts for two to 12 weeks, depending on how much weight you want to lose).

Your chance to see Dr Mosley

Join us at 6pm this Thursday for an exclusive live event with Dr Michael Mosley and Dr Clare Bailey as we launch our new health campaign, Shape Up Britain, which uses their revolutionary, scientifically proven Fast 800 plan to help you lose weight — fast!

Book your FREE place now at mailplus.co.uk/events 

Why 800 calories? Because the figure is backed by science. By limiting yourself to eating this amount a day for a short time, you get all the nutrients you need but will see impressive early weight loss. It also triggers metabolic changes that can reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and dementia.

Early weight loss is also encouraging. Cat Duffin, a 42-year-old mother of three from Sheffield, was at her heaviest when she started our challenge, at 14st 1lb (she’s 5ft 4in tall). ‘That first week when I saw I had lost 8lb, it really motivated me to continue,’ she says.

She lost 1st 7lb in total and was overjoyed after eight weeks to find key health markers were down to healthy levels, including blood pressure from 160/95 to 130/70 and blood glucose levels from 6.3 to 5.4. Her cholesterol had also improved.

This was particularly important for Cat, as her mother died after a cardiac arrest, aged 50.

‘I knew I needed to tackle my weight to be around for my own children,’ she says.

Kerry Moxon, another Sheffield volunteer, was also inspired by early weight loss. The 41-year-old administrator felt ‘shattered’ at first but her energy soon returned. ‘Losing 9lb that first week spurred me on,’ she says.

She went on to lose a total of 2st 3lb and has taken up spinning classes, too.

In Devon, Kelly Davis, 41, a nurse, found herself 10lb lighter after just a week. ‘When the weight fell off, it was better than any sugar rush. It was like shedding my old life,’ she says.

This might appear to be ‘crash dieting’, but large studies have shown it to be safe, if you get enough protein, nutrients, and do things properly. This bit of the plan is short-term and that’s the key.

In fact, the Government recently announced that 5,000 people with type 2 diabetes would be offered an 800-calorie ‘soup and shakes’ diet, as part of a national crusade on obesity. Meal replacement shakes are useful for busy people and some find them easier in the early stages. 

The best shakes contain no added sugar, and plenty of protein (to preserve muscle and keep you full), fibre for gut health, and micronutrients. 

Learn more at thefast800.com

Or you can make sustaining soups and smoothies using the recipes in this pullout.

Feel fuller for longer

Stick to the Fast800 recipes, which use the fundamental principles of the Mediterranean diet to aid weight loss and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

They are free of added sugar and refined carbohydrates (which might trigger cravings) and use healthy fats such as olive oil, protein (including pulses and fish), dairy and fresh vegetables to keep you satisfied.

Sit at a table and take time to enjoy meals without the distraction of TV, radio or phones. Eat slowly, chewing thoroughly. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to register satiety.

Plan meals ahead to avoid temptation and clear the house of sweet and fatty snacks and treats. 

After a few days on this low-calorie, low-carbohydrate plan, your body should flip into ‘fat burning mode’ using fat stores as a primary source of fuel. When this happens, hunger pangs subside. 

Extending your overnight fast (going 12 to 16 hours without food) also gives your body a break from digestion. Intermittent fasting — or Time Restricted Eating (TRE) — is a key part of the Fast 800 programme. It allows the good bacteria in your gut to flourish, and allows the body to concentrate on other functions, such as removing old cells and helping it to switch from burning sugar to burning fat — your fat!

Some of our volunteers worried at first whether they could manage this — but they did, enthusiastically.

‘I’m not really a breakfast person so it was easy to skip it and have lunch at midday,’ says company director Chris Hall, 49, who lives in Sheffield with his wife and three children. ‘I’ve honestly never once felt hungry. ’

Chris has avoided convenience foods and snacks between meals and lost 1st 9lb in the process.

Catherine Pashley, 48, a complementary therapist from Sheffield, who lost 9lb in the first week (and 1st 2lb overall), stopped snacking, too.

‘I could never just stick to one biscuit; I’d eat the pack,’ she recalls.

But now she can easily fast for 18 hours between supper at 4pm and breakfast at 10am the next day.

‘I never thought I’d be able to do that. I’m going through the menopause and was having hot flushes, but I’ve not had one since doing the diet. My aches and pains have gone and my energy levels have soared.’

Party planner Carly Murphy, 32, who lives in Rotherham with her partner and two children, puts her weight loss down to intermittent fasting. ‘I’m convinced it was key to my success. I can easily go for 12 to 16 hours overnight without eating. If I feel hungry, I have a coffee or tea.’

If you prefer a steadier approach to weight loss, you can stick to just two 800-calorie days a week, eating a healthy Mediterranean diet the rest of the time. Why not give it a go? 

It’s never too late to make a big difference to your waistline and health, as our Shape Up Britain volunteers have shown.

Green Breakfast Smoothie

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: Nil

Calories per serving: 347

Serves 1

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 50g blueberries
  • 75g spinach leaves
  • 120ml full-fat milk
  • 50g plain full-fat Greek yoghurt
  • 1 banana, chopped

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and whizz until you have reached a texture you are happy with. Pour the smoothie into a glass, adding ice cubes if you prefer. Enjoy!

Green Breakfast Smoothie

Mocha Berry Shake

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: Nil

Calories per serving:  285

Serves 1

  • 150g plain full-fat Greek yoghurt
  • 30g frozen blueberries, plus a handful to garnish
  • 1½ tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules (see note below)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ice

Blitz everything in a blender until combined. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Note: If you have an espresso machine, 30-60ml espresso works well.

Mocha Berry Shake

Blueberry and Coconut Shake

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: Nil

Calories per serving: 316 

Serves 1

  • 50g The Fast 800 Vanilla Shake powder
  • 200ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 30g blueberries
  • 5g coconut flakes

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth and ready to serve.

Blueberry and Coconut Shake

Spinach and Broccoli Soup 

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Calories per serving: 302 

Serves 2

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 100g spinach leaves
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • 40g Parmesan, grated
  • 40g sour cream

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, then tip in the onion and fry, stirring for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. 

Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes. Now add the broccoli and simmer for about 7 minutes, or until the veg is tender. 

Tip in the spinach and simmer for an additional minute, or until the leaves have just wilted. 

Set aside to cool and add some basil leaves and the Parmesan. Using a hand blender or food processor, whizz until the soup becomes smooth. 

Divide the soup between two bowls , top with the sour cream and season well.

Quick tip for a slimmer you 

‘Taking a flask of soup to work for lunch stopped me snacking,’ says Victoria Bateman, 35, who lost 1st 1lb.

Spinach and Broccoli Soup

Miso Soup with Cabbage Noodles

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Calories per serving: 199 

Serves 2

  • 750ml vegetable stock
  • 2cm root ginger, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
  • ¼ head savoy cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 carrot, cut into batons
  • 40g miso paste
  • 15ml tamari sauce
  • 100g firm tofu, cut into cubes

Pour the stock into a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli, cover and continue to simmer for 5 minutes to infuse.

Now, place the cabbage and carrot in the pan, cover and simmer for a further 3-4 minutes, or until the cabbage is wilted.

Stir in the miso paste and tamari sauce. Add the tofu and allow to warm through for a few minutes before serving.

Miso Soup with Cabbage Noodles

Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes, plus cooling time

Cook time: 30 minutes

Calories per serving: 365 

Serves 2

  • 1 head broccoli (about 350g), chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 courgette (about 150g), chopped
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 75ml single cream
  • 100g Cheddar, grated

Place the broccoli, leek and courgette in a saucepan and pour in the vegetable stock. 

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the cream and cheese and set aside to cool.

Using a hand blender or food processor, blend until the soup becomes smooth.

Rewarm the soup over medium heat for 2 minutes or until heated through.

Add a little hot water if you want to adjust the consistency. Season and serve in two warmed bowls.

Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

Pumpkin and Lentil Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes 

Cook time: 25 minutes

Calories per serving: 333 

Serves 2

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 200g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • ½ x 400g tin lentils, rinsed well and drained
  • ½ head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 30g Parmesan, shaved
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the stock, butternut squash, tomatoes and lentils and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally.

Now add the broccoli and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

You may prefer to blitz the soup with a hand blender until smooth or leave it chunky.

Serve in two warmed bowls, season well and sprinkle over the parsley and Parmesan. 

Pumpkin and Lentil Soup

Chickpea Soup with Greens

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Calories per serving: 222 

Serves 2

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oill ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, sliced into ½cm pieces
  • 1 carrot, sliced into thin batons
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  •  ½ x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • ½ x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 30g spinach leaves
  • 50g chard
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Place a large pot over a medium heat on the stove and add the olive oil. Fry the onion, garlic, celery and carrot until the onion has softened.

Add the oregano and season well. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and chickpeas and stock and stir while bringing to the boil.

Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the soup to ensure it doesn’t become too thick — add water if necessary. Next, add the spinach and chard and stir through for 2-3 minutes until the leaves have wilted. 

Ladle into two warmed bowls, season well and top with the chopped parsley. Enjoy!

Chickpea Soup with Greens

My mummy tummy has gone and my skin glows

Anna Powell, 46, lives with her husband, Thomas, 46, in Chudleigh, Devon. The couple, who have two children — Thomas, 13, and Jackson, seven — run the Sugar Mill, a sweet shop in the town. She says:

Until this year, I’ve never thought seriously about dieting despite knowing that I have a ‘mummy tummy’.

It was when friends were struggling to lose weight due to the menopause that I decided to take action. I feared if that happened to me, I would never lose the extra pounds that arrived over the past decade.

My weight was pretty constant in my 20s. I was a backing dancer and always around 9½st. My legs were my pride and joy. 

But in my late 30s and 40s, the demands of young children meant exercise went out of the window and I got out of the habit of keeping fit.

Anna Powell, 46, lives with her husband, Thomas, 46, in Chudleigh, Devon. She is pictured before her weight loss, left, and her after weight loss right

Running a traditional sweet shop with my husband made it extra hard to keep my weight down. The temptation is constant when you spend the day in a room packed with pick and mix and favourites such as cola cubes as well as handmade Belgian chocolates.

Six months of lockdown made the situation even worse. It was so easy to have a glass of beer every afternoon if the weather was sunny, along with lots of nibbles. I could feel the weight mounting up, leaving me sluggish and tired in the second half of the day and even more dependent on sweet treats for an energy burst.

Sticking to 800 calories a day was daunting. I’m a very traditional cook — we usually live on dishes such as sausage and mash, meat and two veg and a roast on a Sunday.

So I had to rethink the weekly shop to convert to a Mediterranean-style diet. 

Even having fresh salad all the time was something I would never usually do. After about four weeks, I did crave the occasional fix of carbohydrate.

But I was amazed at how much energy I had and I’m thrilled with the results: I have lost 3in from my waist and my stomach is really toned.

Recently, I saw my mother-in–law for the first time in months and she said: ‘You look so much brighter — your skin is glowing and your eyes are so bright.’ 

Does healthy eating really do that to a person? The answer is yes. When I look in the mirror now I think, ‘Wow’ and my aim is to press on until I weigh 10st.

The Fast 800 is only suitable for those who are overweight or obese. If you have any health concerns or you are taking medication, speak to your GP before embarking on the plan.

Lockdown was terrible for my weight

Stephen Brown, 43, a holiday park general manager, lives in Chudleigh, Devon, with wife, Kelly, a nurse. They have four children between them: Cameron, 15, Finley, 17, Jamie, 15, and Aliya, 11. He says:

My first thought when taking up the challenge was how to find the willpower to stick to 800 calories a day because I normally consume 2,500-3,000.

Initially, I did feel really, really hungry and had a banging headache for three days. But after a week I began to enjoy the plan.

Some dishes were more satisfying than others — but I always loaded up with green veg to ensure my plate was full.

The weight started to drop off so quickly — I lost 7lb in the first week alone! This did wonders for morale and motivation.

I never worried about my weight until I went through a divorce and by the time I went back to work after lockdown, I was my heaviest ever. We had more takeaways and alcohol than we should on furlough. I felt lethargic and out of breath. I had terrible indigestion.

Now I’ve lost just over two stone and sleep well. As for the indigestion — it’s vanished.

Stephen Brown, 43, a holiday park general manager, lives in Chudleigh, Devon, with wife, Kelly, a nurse. He is pictured before his weight loss left, and after his weight loss right

The Fast 800 challenge

Our volunteers all took part in the Fast 800 online diet programme, which involves recipes, advice, exercise plans and access to online coaching. They were also given Fast 800 shakes to complement the recipes.

Before they began, they were given comprehensive consultations and assessments at Bupa Health Clinics to check on a number of measurements including blood pressure, diabetes risk (calculated using several factors including HbA1c blood tests), heart rhythm screening, lipid profile (including cholesterol and triglycerides tests with HDLs and LDLs) and height, weight and body mass index.

They were then assessed again after eight weeks to note any changes and monitor progress.

Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, medical director of Bupa Health Clinics, says: ‘It is great to see the Daily Mail volunteers have been able to make such an improvement in their weight and health in just eight weeks.’

But he emphasizes this is just the beginning — to reap the best health benefits, you need to keep up your healthy habits.

After three months of positive lifestyle changes many people see improvements in blood pressure and their cholesterol levels begin to reduce.

They continue to see further health benefits — including reducing their blood sugar levels and the risk of type 2 diabetes — as time goes on.

Visit bupa.co.uk for more details on their health assessments.

Visit thefast800.com for the online programme.

Recipes taken from thefast800.com online programme followed by our volunteers. 

The Fast 800 Recipe Book: Low-carb, Mediterranean style recipes for intermittent fasting and long-term health by Dr Clare Bailey and Justine Pattison, foreword by Dr Michael Mosley (Short Books, £16.99).   

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