There's no doubting Michelle Mone’s business savvy. The 48-year-old Scottish entrepreneur co-founded a highly successful lingerie firm in 1996 and now has a peerage.
There’s no doubting her successful weight loss, either, having lost 6st in seven years, 11lb alone in the past year, in preparation for her wedding to billionaire fiance Doug Barrowman.
Last week, she shared her ‘29-rule plan’, a series of diet recommendations, claiming: ‘Changing into this lifestyle means that we all get to live longer and healthier . . . diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and body motor diseases (MS and Parkinson’s) all get stalled and/or reversed!!!’
Entrepreneur Michelle Mone, 48, lost six stone and 11 pounds in seven years as she prepared for her wedding to billionare fiance Doug Barrowman. (Right, Michelle now and, left, Michelle in 2003)
Describing her healthy eating plan, she said: ‘Basically it’s a limited pescetarian diet with lots of legumes and vegetables. Meat substitutes can be used to bulk up meals. The key is to avoid, sugar, starches, and simple carbs at all costs.’
But her approach has been slammed by experts. Zoe Harcombe, an obesity researcher and diet expert, says: ‘This diet is likely to be deficient in a number of nutrients, and having studied the evidence for calorie-deficit dieting, I would expect the weight to be regained.’
With the help of NHS dietitian Catherine Collins, Zoe Harcombe and Ian Marber, an independent nutrition therapist who has spent more than 20 years working in the field, we’ve gone through Michelle’s tips to work out which ones you should swallow whole, and which should be taken with a very large pinch of salt.
RULE 1: NO MILK
Michelle says: ‘Low fat milk — cows’ milk is bad for you; lactose intolerance. Human intestines aren’t designed to process milk effectively . . . substitute for almond milk or soy milk or coconut milk.’
Experts say: ‘Lactose intolerance affects only approximately 5 per cent of people of Northern European descent,’ says Zoe Harcombe. ‘Milk is too rich in many micronutrients, including vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus, for us to be avoiding it if we don’t need to.’
‘People get confused about milk. It’s not bad for you and not even high in fat — full fat milk is only 4.5 per cent fat — whereas Cheddar is 30-40 per cent,’ says Catherine Collins.
‘And it does provide useful amounts of calcium and protein.’
VERDICT: Ignore advice unless you are genuinely lactose intolerant.
RULE 2: NO YOGHURT
Michelle says: ‘Natural yoghurt — small quantities only; lactose issue and full of natural sugar.’
Experts say: As explained, lactose is generally not an ‘issue’ and as for it being full of natural sugar, Zoe Harcombe points out natural yoghurt is ‘less than 5 per cent carbohydrate’ so there’s less than a spoonful in an individual pot. Catherine Collins adds: ‘Yoghurts can contribute calcium to the diet, and can be tolerated even by those who are lactose intolerant.
‘That’s because the bacterial cultures used to make yoghurt use some of the lactose — which is a sugar — for their own energy needs.’
However, Collins warns: ‘Extra-creamy yoghurts often have cream as the second ingredient so are no better than a dessert and should be avoided by weight watchers.’
VERDICT: Ignore advice.
RULE 3: NO EGGS
Michelle recommended that women should avoid eggs, while experts said those dieting should eat them
Michelle says: ‘Eggs — completely avoid — cholesterol issues; animal-based protein.’
Experts say: ‘Until the 1980s, cholesterol from food sources such as eggs was thought to affect the amount of cholesterol in the blood — it’s now known that’s not the case ,’ says Catherine Collins ‘Eggs are a good source of protein which, when trying to lose weight, can help maintain fullness levels — which may help cut calories but only if you eat only when you are hungry.’
Zoe Harcombe adds: ‘Michelle says “animal-based protein” as if it’s a bad thing when it’s the opposite. Only animal-based protein is complete — meaning it contains all the essential amino acids and in the right amount. Essential in nutrition means something we must consume — the body doesn’t make it.’
VERDICT: Ignore advice.
RULE 4: NO REDUCED-FAT CHEESE
Michelle says: ‘Reduced fat cheese — avoid completely, as an animal based protein with similar properties to eggs and milk.’
Experts say: As already pointed out, as long as you’re not lactose intolerant, there’s no issue with dairy products and, like yoghurt and milk, cheese is a good source of protein, calcium and other nutrients.
However, Cheddar and many other hard cheeses are much higher in fat than milk and other dairy products, and reduced-fat lower fat cheeses can be benefical,’ says Catherine Collins. ‘They are also a lot nicer than they used to be.’
VERDICT: Ignore advice. If trying dieting, reduced fat cheese can be beneficial.
RULE 5: AVOID FRUIT JUICE
Michelle says: Juices — avoid fruit juices as they are full of sugar; if used, need to be freshly squeezed and taken in moderation.’
Experts say: ‘I agree,’ says Zoe Harcombe. ‘I would actually just say: “Avoid fruit juices as they are full of sugar.” Full stop.’
If you want vitamin C, you’re better off eating a whole orange, rather than juicing one, or even eating vitamin C-rich vegetables such as red peppers. However juice can be beneficial to those whose fruit and veg intake is otherwise lacking, says Catherine Collins. ‘If you are always missing your five a day target then I wouldn’t suggest cutting out fruit juice, too, but keep your intake to one 150ml glass a day.’
VERDICT: Limit intake.
RULE 6: FRESH FRUIT IN MODERATION
Michelle said that fresh fruit should be eaten in moderation while experts said this should only be done if you are trying to cut calories
Michelle says: ‘Fresh fruit — full of sugar so take in moderation’
Experts say: This splits the experts. Ian Marber takes issue with the idea that fruit is ‘full of sugar’ saying it’s ‘unhelpful and misleading scaremongering when fruit can actually be a source of antioxidants, fibre and minerals that can contribute to our five-a-day’. On the other hand, if you’re trying to lose weight, the relatively high sugar content of some fruit might mean you’re better off getting your antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals from eating vegetables instead.
VERDICT: Follow if trying to cut calories.
RULE 7: LOTS OF VEG
Michelle says: ‘Fresh vegetables — eat as much as you like . . . complex carbohydrates are good for you and will also produce enough protein to live on.’
Experts say: While our experts agree it’s good to eat lots of veg, and concede they can be considered to contain complex carbohydrates, they don’t agree with Michelle’s reasoning.
‘Carbohydrate doesn’t provide protein. Carbohydrates provide carbohydrate; protein provides protein,’ says Zoe Harcombe. And according to Ian Marber, while there is some protein in vegetables, you’d have to eat an awful lot of them to get the protein you need to survive.
He adds: ‘Broccoli contains 3g of protein per 100g so to get the 45g of protein a woman needs every day, you’d have to eat a kilo and a half of it. That’s just not practical.’ Zoe says: ‘Vegetables can’t compete with red meat or oily fish for nutrient density.’
VERDICT: Yes, eat veg in abundance, but don’t rely on them as a protein source.
RULE 8: MODERATE AMOUNTS OF WHOLEGRAIN BREAD
Wholegrain bread should be eaten in moderation, says Michelle. Experts agreed
Michelle says: ‘Wholegrain bread — eat in moderation. Avoid any bread that isn’t wholegrain.’
Experts say: ‘We should be choosing wholegrain bread where possible,’ agrees Ian Marber. ‘It contains more fibre than other types.’ Catherine Collins