People often stop me in the street to tell me how good they feel after shedding weight on my Fast 800 programme.
As well as looking slimmer and seeing big improvements in blood pressure and blood sugars, they are delighted to discover they have fresh reserves of energy and a new zest for living.
Often this comes as something of a surprise to them — they’ve been so used to feeling permanently exhausted and sleeping badly on a regimen of ready-meals, constant snacks and little or no exercise that they’ve actually forgotten how life used to be when they were lighter and fitter.
But hearing about people joining exercise groups — or being able to play with their children or grandchildren — is music to my ears because ultimately the goal of a good weight-loss programme is to enable you to enjoy better health and quality of life than before.
They’ve been so used to feeling permanently exhausted and sleeping badly on a regimen of ready-meals, constant snacks and little or no exercise that they’ve actually forgotten how life used to be when they were lighter and fitter (file photo)
So I was very pleased to learn that Kerry Moxon, a 41-year-old administrator from Sheffield, had enthusiastically taken up spinning classes after losing 2 st 2 lb in eight weeks on the Shape Up Britain challenge.
Our volunteers 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.
To reap the best health benefits, you need to keep up your healthy habits
Before they began, they were given comprehensive consultations and assessments at Bupa Health Clinics to check measurements including blood pressure, diabetes risk (calculated using several factors including HbA1c blood tests), heart rhythm screening, lipid profile, weight and body mass index. They were then re-assessed after eight weeks. Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, medical director of Bupa Health Clinics, says: ‘It is great to see that the Daily Mail volunteers have been able to make such an improvement in just eight weeks.’
But he emphasises this is just the beginning — to reap the best health benefits, you need to keep up your healthy habits.
Visit thefast800.com for the online programme. For more information on the health assessments, go to bupa.co.uk
Kerry freely admits the weight ‘piled on’ — three stone to be precise — when her gym closed and she found herself ‘living off toast’ during lockdown.
‘I’d tried to lose weight on my own but it wasn’t shifting. My knees were clicking, my blood pressure was a bit raised and when I saw the number on the scales I thought: “How have I let myself get to this point?”’
Just eight weeks later, it’s a different story. ‘I’ve got so much more energy now and, with the gym reopened, I’ve got something of a spin class addiction. I’m doing ten classes a week, but I love it!’ she enthused.
The coronavirus pandemic has proved a wake-up call for anyone who’s carrying too much weight, and that’s most of us: two-thirds of British adults are now classed as either overweight or obese.
Not only are you more likely to die or suffer severe complications from Covid-19 if you’re overweight but a vaccine, when one becomes available, is less likely to be effective.
On top of that, more and more research is now pointing towards the increased risks of developing other serious chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and dementia if you have a bulging waistline. This is alarming, but don’t despair. As we’ve been revealing all this week, it is possible to reverse all this within a matter of just weeks, as our unique experiment has shown.
It was with this in mind that I joined forces with the Daily Mail to devise our special Shape Up Britain challenge with the help of my wife Dr Clare Bailey, a GP and best-selling food writer.
We’ve put together a special series, which we’ve been sharing all this week, full of tasty low-carb, low-calorie recipes and advice based on the robust science behind our Fast 800 diet.
To show you what could be achieved, we recruited the help of normal people, all of them carrying too much weight and all wanting to change.
Thirteen people who live on the same street in Chudleigh, Devon, and 17 members of a Facebook friendship group based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, stepped forward to see how much weight they could lose in just eight weeks, and what other health benefits they would reap.
Their weight loss has been most impressive: the two groups lost 39 st 8 lb between them, with 23 individuals losing more than a stone each.
But even more brilliant to see is the exciting impact losing weight has had on other areas of their lives.
All our volunteers were given detailed assessments before they started with Bupa Health Clinics to ensure they were suitable candidates and to unearth any health issues. These were then repeated after eight weeks.
There were reports of reduced blood pressure readings, improved cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar levels and reduced joint pain as well as other health benefits besides.
It’s fair to say that many found it quite an adjustment to swap their old habits for a new regimen, particularly if they’d been eating a lot of processed food high in sugar or starchy carbs. ‘I was shattered for the first week, but my energy levels soon returned,’ was how Kerry summed up her transition to low-carb eating.
Our 30 volunteers lost 39 st 8 lb over eight weeks. Here’s how you can emulate them:Use cinnamon instead of sugar as a sweetener — sprinkle it over yoghurt, for instance. Drink fizzy water and herbal tea to stave off hunger pangs. Keep your hands busy if you get hungry — take up a new hobby whether it’s knitting or gardening. Enjoy pudding? Save your ‘breakfast’ until after your main meal in the evening. Find an exercise you love such as a spin class or a dance video on YouTube and download an exercise or steps app to see how much exercise you’re doing, then try to beat the total. Join a Facebook or WhatsApp group to share tips and motivation. Plan, plan, plan ahead — it makes all the difference if you have a lunch or breakfast you can simply grab from the fridge.
‘The first four days were tough,’ agrees 35-year-old Victoria Bateman, who lives in Chudleigh and works in hospitality and often grabbed ‘something unhealthy’ for supper.
But she persevered on our Fast 800 programme, inspired by the simplicity of the recipes to lose 2 st 1 lb.
‘The tomato and cannelloni bean soup was so simple but so filling and satisfying. I’d often take it to work for lunch. By day ten, I found I’d adapted. I was less tired and sleeping better,’ she says. ‘With a stone off, I’ve got so much more energy,’ agrees Carly Murphy, a 32-year-old party planner from Rotherham who lost a stone.
There are good reasons for this. Our typically busy lives mean we often grab snacks, sandwiches and ready-meals rather than cooking from scratch, and these tend to be full of sugars and starchy carbohydrates that cause blood sugar levels to spike.
Because high levels of sugar in the blood are toxic, our bodies respond to the excess glucose by producing lots of the hormone insulin. This makes your body store that excess energy around your waist in the form of fat.
But the surge in insulin, required to rapidly bring down your blood sugar levels, also has the side-effect of producing an energy slump, which is why many people feel tired in the middle of the afternoon, particularly if they’ve had a high-carb lunch.
The Fast 800 diet, however, with its focus on Mediterranean-style ingredients such as fish, good fats, nuts, legumes and plenty of fruit and vegetables, ensures you don’t get such big blood sugar spikes. So shedding an unwanted spare tyre is only the beginning of the many positive health benefits you can expect if you join our Shape Up Britain challenge.
To inspire you further, today we’re sharing some more delicious Mediterranean-style, low-carb recipes created by my GP wife Clare from the wide selection that our volunteers enjoyed.
Soup was a particular favourite with our volunteers, even with those who didn’t regard themselves as soup fans. It’s easy to make and store.
There are so many different flavours you can experiment with, and it’s also surprisingly satisfying.
Ring the changes with the fennel and butterbean soup featured here. Another autumn favourite is pumpkin and pancetta soup (see thefast800.com for this and more recipes).
All have been carefully calculated to give you all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need for optimum health and keep you feeling full and satisfied. As someone who’s been lucky enough to sample plenty of Clare’s cooking over the years, I know you’ll enjoy them.
Start on our Shape Up Britain challenge today and in just eight weeks’ time you, too, could be lighter and have more energy than you’ve had for years.NOTE: 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.
Apple, Pear and Hazelnut Yoghurt
Apple, Pear and Hazelnut Yoghurt
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: nil
Serves 11 pear, sliced 10 g hazelnuts 100 g plain full-fat Greek yoghurt 1 apple, sliced
Place yoghurt in a bowl and top with sliced fruit and hazelnuts.
Calories per serving: 287
Green Brekkie Bowl
Green Brekkie Bowl
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves 1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 tsp ground paprika 70 g kale, de-stemmed and shredded ½ courgette (approx 75 g), chopped 50 g button mushrooms, sliced 50 g spinach leaves 2 large free range eggs 1 tbsp white vinegar ½ avocado, mashed
Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add the olive oil, paprika, kale and courgette.
Cook for approximately 7 minutes, or until the kale turns soft, you may need to add a splash of water to help this along. Now add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes.
Finally, add the spinach, turn off the heat and stir through. To poach the eggs, add water and vinegar to a large saucepan until 8 cm deep. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.
Crack an egg into a small bowl. Using a large spoon, gently stir the water in a circular motion to create a whirlpool. This will draw the egg into the centre of the saucepan. Carefully slide the egg into the water.
Cook for 3 minutes for a soft yolk, or 4 minutes for a firm yolk. Using a slotted spoon, remove the egg from the water. Repeat with the other egg.
Place the wilted greens into a large bowl, add the avocado and top with the