Pacific Islands

The Fast 800 Diet

Georgie Gordon reports that this diet, if followed correctly should leave you feeling alert and in a good mood during the day, as well as improving liver function and helping with the prevention of metabolic diseases … and you’ll lose weight.

August 28, 2019
Georgie Gordon

Georgie Gordon

August 28, 2019

The latest diet from Dr Michael Mosley, the man who gave the world the hugely popular 5:2 diet, is no fad. A combination of Mosely’s 5:2 intermittent fasting program – under which you reduce your calorie intake to just 500-600 calories (2000 – 2500 kilojoules) per day for two days and eat normally for the other five; and the Mediterranean diet – eating low carb food and plenty of fish, nuts, olive oil and vegetables, the Fast 800 diet is so called because it involves eating only 800 calories a day. Promising rapid weight loss, and importantly, that the weight stays off, the premise is that you start off the initial period (usually two weeks) by eating only 800 calories (equivalent to roughly 3350 kilojoules) a day, then you start following the 5:2 program and throughout both phases you eat food recommended in the Mediterranean diet. 

Rapid weight loss has had a bad rap, mainly due to fad diets executed poorly (cayenne pepper diet, anyone?), however, evidence of the benefits of losing weight quickly is mounting, provided you have an adequate intake of protein, fibre and essential nutrients. Not only that, rapid weight loss is very motivating, people are more likely to continue on the program if they see noticeable results, quickly.

The three prong approach

Since intermittent fasting became popular (Mosley invented the 5:2 diet in 2012 after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes) a serious amount of research has gone into low energy dieting and the common consensus from studies conducted all over the world, from Oxford to Newcastle University, is that it is an effective weight loss method. Further studies also show that people find it easier to stick to 800 calories (rather than the 500-600 recommended in the 5:2 diet) and surprisingly still get the same weight loss and metabolic advantages.

Health authorities are behind the diet because rather than starving yourself like most rapid weight loss diets you are still eating a healthy balanced diet, you are just eating a lot less of it. In fact, the experts are putting valuable research money into it, the NHS (UK health system) is planning to test the 800 calorie diet on 5000 people as a fix for type 2 diabetes. The University of Sydney has conducted a similar trial on women with obesity, with results to be published soon.

The Fast 800 diet is essentially a three pronged approach: A 800 calorie daily intake for at least two weeks; followed by the 5:2 diet; and then the Mediterranean diet with increased exercise to maintain the weight loss.

What does 800 calories look like?

Eating lower-carb, high (good) fat meals packed with essential nutrients, protein and fibre will not only make you feel full for longer it will kick start weight loss and improve blood sugar levels. A typical day may see you eat an omelette for breakfast, a salad packed with vegetables and nuts for lunch and small piece of meat with salad for dinner, and yoghurt with berries for a snack. Portion control is key and there are many plans available online to keep you on track.

Time-restricted eating

Mosley also recommends that you extend the overnight fast for at least 12 hours by eating dinner early and breakfast as late you can. The science behind this states that by giving the body a break from eating and digesting you unlock powerful repair pathways that protect against illness and obesity. Eating nutritious and filling food helps to prolong the fasting period as well as ensuring there is a plentiful supply of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to boost the repair pathways. It is also a good idea to include probiotics to optimise your gut microbiome. Followed correctly this diet and protocol should leave you feeling alert and in a good mood during the day, as well as improving liver function and helping with the prevention of metabolic diseases.

The 5:2

After you’ve completed the initial weight loss period you transition to two days of fasting (on limited calories) per week. Candidates suggest that this part of the diet feels easy after the first phase as weight continues to be lost. Keep in mind that throughout a healthy Mediterranean diet is recommended.

The Mediterranean diet

This diet is based on peasant-style food eaten by the populations of Greece, Spain and Southern Italy that experience less coronary heart disease, cholesterol and lower incidences of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It includes: an abundance of fresh seasonal vegetables; legumes such as chickpeas and lentils; whole grains including barley, wheat and farro; seafood, especially oily fish like salmon; lots of olive oil; small amounts of natural dairy products including full cream milk, cheese and yoghurt; and thankfully small quantities of red wine (antioxidants!) are allowed as is natural sugar in the form of fruit and honey.

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