So last night, in a flurry of “I can’t find my shoes”, running about 20 minutes late knowing I would get stuck in glorious Auckland rush hour traffic, I went to hear Dr Michael Mosley be interviewed by Kerre McIvor.
I bought the ticket out of interest in his new book “the 8-week blood sugar diet”, sheer curiosity at seeing the man who at essence is responsible for the last 3 years of my research-life, and to support the fund raising activities of Diabetes Auckland. Oh, and I got a “free” copy of the blood sugar diet book.
Who is Dr Michael Mosley? Well, Dr Michael Mosley is indeed a Medical Doctor (MD) rather than a PhD doctor or a “bought at the 2-dollar store doctor”. Rather than being a practising medical doctor, he works for the BBC as a science journalist. I am not sure how many people outside of the BBC had heard of him until he made a documentary with Horizon, (see doco here) a scientific documentary series, all about fasting diets. And from this spawned a massive (sorry, did I say massive, I meant to say MASSIVE!) public interest in intermittent fasting diets. Oh, and a book called “The fast diet” which sold millions. I have to add at this point that there was another author, Dr Michelle Harvey (a PhD doctor and UK Dietitian) who wrote a book called the “2-day diet” which is very similar. I add in about Dr Harvey as she has actually published research about this type of diet, where as Dr Mosley is more like a walking systematic review on the topic!
Four years on, it’s time for another book from Dr Mosley. This time he has focused on type 2 diabetes and pre diabetes. The 8-week blood sugar diet is based on work done by Professor Roy Taylor in the UK. Professor Roy Taylor is perhaps one of THE biggest names in diabetes research. So let’s talk a wee bit about the 8-week blood sugar diet…
The diet itself is what we in nutrition-circles call a “VLCD”. In real words, a Very Low Calorie Diet. For 8 weeks you get a whole 800kcal each day to enjoy. Let’s put this in to context. You drink 4 whole milk flat whites a day? That’s 800kcal. Most women aged about 35 years old should have about 1800kcal a day. Most healthy-eating-based weight loss diets aim for about 1200-1400kcal a day (25% less than usual intake). VLCD’s have been researched for years (and I mean YEARS). They produce really fast weight loss. They can be hard to stick to – because of the restriction in calories, but the rapidly dropping numbers on the scales can be good to keep motivation going. This 800kcal restriction, although it sounds drastic, is not as few calories as you restrict to on other liquid diets or even on fasting days of the fasting diet. And he gives you menus developed by Dr Sarah Schenker (PhD) Registered UK Dietitian, which I have to say sound delicious!
So, what’s the trick? The trick is really what you do after the 8-week blood sugar diet. You see, the rapid weight loss of VLCD’s can be followed by equally rapid weight regain if you go back to eating the same old same old after you have stopped the diet. Dr Mosley recognises and lets us know in no uncertain terms that the maintenance plan is almost more important than the 8-week diet. He spends a lot of time in the book discussing this, and giving some good practical examples of what has worked for him. But there are 3 main points:
The true traditional mediterranean-style diet (as opposed to the current one which is probably just like what we have here) focuses on in-season fruits and vegetables, oily fish, meat, chicken and eggs, nuts, beans and pulses, olive oil, plain natural yoghurts and dairy, and wholegrain carbohydrates in moderate servings (certainly not >6 servings of bread a day). Avoiding the processed and focusing on the whole food.
Get active. Activity will help to burn energy but not enough to allow the extra block of chocolate that the weights machines tell you! Strength exercises have a longer effect on your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories) than walking or running). ALL exercise is good for your head, your stress levels and your blood pressure! (Running makes me a nicer mum!).
Sort out your head. Oh I can’t put enough emphasis on this! Whether you look at meditation, mindfulness, intuitive eating … all of these can help to sort out those bad voices in your head and help them become your cheer-squad. Dr Mosley’s book gives some great examples of how you can take small, simple steps to sort out your head.
And there he was, in person, with Kerre McIvor, about 4 rows in front of me. I have to say Kerre McIvor was rather funny. Having swanned in from MC-ing with Nigella Lawson, it surely must have been a day of contrasts for her! She guided the interview very well and made sure people stayed on topic (most of the time). Hearing things from the horse’s mouth as it were is always great and really Dr Mosley, whilst not a researcher he acknowledges, is a walking systematic review of all things obesity and weight loss. I am very glad I spent my money and got to hear him.
The bottom line. There are a number of “warnings” that Dr Mosley goes through in his book – and very responsible he is too. The main one is getting checked by your own doctor before you embark on this diet. Have a look at this, this, this and this link to have a good read of the diet first. It is one diet, and as we practice here at Nourished in Auckland ... it's important to find the right diet for you. This might be the one, or it might not be.
Don’t forget that Intermittent Fasting is one of the specialist areas that we have hoards of experience at here at Nourished in Auckland, Katrina Pace Dietitian. If you want to learn more and see if it is right for you then get in contact and book your appointment.
Katrina Pace, Dietitian
Gut bugs fascinate me. Diet and gut bugs intrigue me. Cooking is essential. Add them all together and you get a fairly interesting opinion on life! In my humble opinion.