Many people believe long-term weight loss is next to impossible; I have heard over and over again that 99 per cent of diets fail and people on them end up as fat, if not fatter, than when they started.
There are lots of crazy diets out there. But even a cursory read through recent research will show you that if you follow a decent diet (one which has some science behind it), there is a good chance you will keep some, or most, of that weight off.
And, contrary to what many people believe, rapid weight loss diets — like my Fast 800 Keto plan — can be more effective in the short, medium and long term.
Dr Michael Mosley with his wife Dr Clare Bailey. Their cooking demonstrations can be found on Instagram @drclarebailey
That’s because losing weight quickly is extremely motivating and many studies have shown that the amount of weight that you lose in the first four weeks of a diet is a powerful predictor of how you will do, long-term.
Problems will occur if you let yourself slip back into your old eating patterns — the habits that caused you to gain weight in the first place.
So that’s why I’ve created my Fast 800 Keto plan, which has been serialised exclusively in the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday, in three distinct phases which allow you to ease back into real-world eating without the risk of undoing all that you have achieved.
All this week I have been outlining the clever, scientifically backed principles behind this new incarnation of my popular weight-loss plan.
When hunger strikes
Remind yourself why you’re doing this. You want to live to a healthy old age, don’t you? Free from disease, fit and happy, able to bend down and to do up your own shoelaces
With renewed emphasis on ensuring you eat enough protein with every meal (topping up with protein snacks like nuts, Greek yoghurt or a piece of cheese), and by cutting back on carbohydrates, you should slip effortlessly into a state called ‘ketosis’. This is where your body naturally searches out your fat reserves to burn for fuel.
One key additional factor which really helps is ‘time restricted eating’ — which encourages you to extend your night-time fast and condense your eating window.
Not only has this been shown to provide the metabolic boosts offered by serious fasting, but helps increase the impact of ketosis and will help you avoid the temptations of late-night snacking.
Throughout each phase of the Fast 800 Keto plan, you get to choose whether you prefer two meals a day or three.
Many people — me included — find that skipping breakfast and having a hearty protein-packed brunch later in the morning really sets me up for the day and makes it much easier to keep my total calorie intake down.
The deliciously filling recipes on these pages here have been specially created by my wife, Dr Clare Bailey, food writer Kathryn Bruton and nutritional therapist Caroline Barton, to ensure you get the right balance of nutrients to lose weight rapidly without being tormented by hunger or cravings.
This makes your 800-900 calorie ‘fast’ days much easier to handle. (Watch Clare and Michael’s cooking demonstrations on Instagram @drclarebailey.)
Dr Mosley says: ‘Many people — me included — find that skipping breakfast and having a hearty protein-packed brunch later in the morning really sets me up for the day and makes it much easier to keep my total calorie intake down’ (file photo used)
One clever twist to this plan is the way it gradually evolves to ease you back into real-world eating patterns without risking weight gain.
On the second stage of the plan (we recommend you stick to stage one for two to 12 weeks depending on how much weight you want or need to lose) you simply stick to 800-900 calorie ‘fast’ days during the week (or for four or five consecutive days each week), then relax the rules at the weekends.
When you do this multiple times (following a pattern of 3:4 or 5:2) you become ‘keto adapted’ and able to swiftly switch in and out of fat-burning mode.
And most of Clare’s recipes include clever ‘non-fast day’ additions which allow you to increase your protein intake slightly (to 60-80g per day) and introduce healthy carbohydrates on non-fast days.
Ultimately (by the third maintenance stage) your healthy eating habits should be so engrained, you can happily remain at your new weight equilibrium.
Switching from three meals to two certainly helps make things easier long-term.
This is how I live my life. Unlike Clare, I am not naturally slim. I have to keep an eye on my weight and my waist, or I would balloon.
But by sticking to a healthy Mediterranean-style diet, skipping breakfast and enjoying a protein-filled brunch, combined with doing the odd fasting day to compensate if I have overindulged or I feel my trousers pinching, I manage to keep my weight, waist, blood sugars and blood pressure down, without calorie counting.
The Fast800 in a nutshell
STAGE 1: RAPID WEIGHT LOSS
800-900 cals a day for two to 12 weeks with protein add-ons to take you to 1,000 cals if needed.
Eat at least 50g protein and less than 50g carbs a day — and you should lose 1-2kg per week.
STAGE 2: INTERMITTENT FASTING
800-900 cals on four or five consecutive days a week and a portion-controlled but more relaxed approach on non-fast days (increasing protein to 60-80g). Try ‘time-restricted eating’ which sets your eating window at 12 hours each day (i.e. 8am-8pm).
STAGE 3: MAINTENANCE
No calorie counting but monitor your weight. Eat a Mediterranean-style diet with 1g protein per 1kg of body weight daily.
Broccoli Fritters with Eggs & Bacon
Broccoli fritters with eggs and bacon. Cook to your liking, then place the eggs on the fritters and top with the bacon to serve
Per serving: 462kcals, 29g protein, 5g carbs
- ¼ head of broccoli (approx 150g), finely chopped including the stalk
- 2 rashers smoked back bacon
- 4 tbsp ground almonds (approx 30g)
- 40g Cheddar, grated
- 4 medium free-range eggs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6 and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the broccoli in a glass bowl with a splash of water, cover and microwave for 1½ minutes. Leave to cool slightly.
Place the bacon on the baking tray and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Stir the ground almonds, cheese and 2 of the eggs into the steamed broccoli and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When hot, divide the fritter mixture into two and place in the pan.
Flatten the fritters slightly and fry for 1½-2 minutes. Using a fish slice, carefully flip them over and cook for 1½-2 minutes on the other side.
Remove the fritters from the pan and keep warm. Add a splash more oil to the pan, if needed, and crack in the remaining eggs. Cook to your liking, then place the eggs on the fritters and top with the bacon to serve.
Microwave Eggs with Spinach and Mackerel
Microwave Eggs with Spinach and Mackerel. Cook in the microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds, checking every 15 seconds from then on, until the white is set and the yolk is still runny
Per serving: 299kcals, 20g protein, 0.5g carbs
- 50g frozen spinach
- 1 tbsp crème fraîche
- 50g cooked smoked mackerel (or salmon), skin removed and broken into pieces
- 1 medium egg
Place the spinach in a ramekin and microwave for 3 minutes. Stir in the crème fraîche and fish, and season with salt and ground black pepper.
Crack the egg on top and use a sharp knife to pierce three holes in the yolk.
Cook in the microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds, checking every 15 seconds from then on, until the white is set and the yolk is still runny (or cooked to your liking).
Baked Eggs with Spinach and Chorizo
Baked eggs with spinach and chorizo; good for brunch and also makes for an appetising lunch or supper with a mixed salad
Per serving: 361 kcals, 29g protein, 0.5g carbs
- 300g frozen spinach, defrosted
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 50g chorizo, diced
- 25g Cheddar, grated
- 4 medium eggs
Place the spinach in a sieve and press out any excess liquid. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan or casserole with a lid and fry the chorizo over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp. Add the spinach and Cheddar and stir to combine.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Make four small holes in the mixture and break an egg into each one.
Cover the pan with a lid (or a large piece of foil) and cook gently over a low heat for 4-5 minutes, or until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.
Good for brunch, this also makes an appetising lunch or supper with a mixed salad.
NON-FAST DAY: Serve with a thin slice of wholegrain or sourdough toast.
Two Cheese Mushrooms
Two cheese mushrooms. Place the Parma ham on top of the mushroom mixture and grill until crispy
Per serving: 212kcals, 16g protein, 0.8g carbs
- 350g mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 50g kale
- 20g Cheddar, grated
- 20g Gruyere, grated
- 4 slices of Parma ham, roughly torn
Fry the mushrooms in the oil for about 4 minutes until they have reduced in size and are taking on some colour.
Add the kale and sauté until it has wilted, about 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Scatter the cheese over, place under the grill and cook for 3 minutes until bubbling and golden.
Place the Parma ham on top of the mushroom mixture and grill until crispy — this should take no more than a minute so keep a close eye on the pan.
Try these hearty protein-packed soups
Mushroom Soup. Swirl in the crème fraîche, top with bacon or Parmesan and sprinkle with fresh parsley to serve
Per serving: 284kcals (with lardons), 267kcals (with Parmesan), 15.5g protein, 4g carbs
- 1 leek, halved lengthways and finely sliced
- 25g butter
- 2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped
- 300g mushrooms, finely sliced
- ½ tsp dried, mixed herbs
- 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 50g bacon lardons or 20g Parmesan shavings, to serve
- 2 tbsp crème fraîche
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Place the leek and butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Cover with a lid and soften for 2 minutes.
Add the celery and cook for another few minutes, then stir in the mushrooms and herbs, followed by the hot stock. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the bacon lardons, if using, in a non-stick frying pan, and fry over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until beginning to crisp.
When the mushroom mixture is soft, remove from the heat and blitz with a stick blender until almost smooth.
Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and divide between two bowls.
Swirl in the crème fraîche, top with bacon or Parmesan and sprinkle with fresh parsley to serve.
Pea and Mint Soup
Pea and Mint Soup. On a non-fast day, serve with a bread roll and/or top with grated Cheddar or more fried smoked lardons or pancetta
Per serving: 161kcals, 8g protein, 9g carbs
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 30g smoked lardons/pancetta cubes
- 200g frozen peas
- 300ml hot chicken or vegetable stock (made with ½ stock cube)
- 50ml full-fat milk
- 4 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the lardons for 3-4 minutes (2-3 minutes for pancetta). Add the peas and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for up to 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat, add the milk and mint and blitz with a stick blender until smooth. Season.
TIP: Swirl in a tablespoon of yoghurt , or scatter over some toasted seeds.
NON-FAST DAY: Serve with a bread roll and/or top with grated Cheddar or more fried smoked lardons or pancetta.
Cajun Cauliflower Soup
Cajun Cauliflower Soup. Sprinkle over some toasted pumpkin seeds, to serve
Per serving: 132kcals, 7g protein, 7g carbs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek, trimmed and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- ½ red chilli, chopped (optional)
- 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets (400g prepared weight)
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 1.2 litres vegetable stock
- 200g silken tofu
In a saucepan add the olive oil and fry the leeks, garlic and chilli (if using) for 5-6 minutes, stirring.
Add the cauliflower, seasoning and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat, add the tofu and blitz until smooth. Season to taste.
TIP: Sprinkle over some toasted pumpkin seeds, to serve.