High blood sugar levels - millions of us have it, but many of us don’t know it and it’s led to not just a type 2 diabetes epidemic, but also a rise in prediabetes , the condition that precedes it. Could calorie restriction help? It worked for medical journalist, Dr Michael Mosley , whose TV show Lose a Stone in 21 Days with Michael Mosley in currently airing at 9pm on Wednesdays on channel 4.
In his book, The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet , he shares the science behind the Blood Sugar Diet; Inspired by Dr Mosley’s own experiences as a type 2 diabetic (which he no longer is), the book’s aimed at helping those with diabetes, and those at high risk of developing it, lose belly fat and reduce and stabilise their blood sugar levels through modifications to their diet.
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A stricter version of the 5:2 diet , the first stage involves an intensive fasting period - an 800 calorie a day plan for eight weeks (something he's gone on to write more about in his latest book, The Fast 800 which Dr Mosley has now turned into an online lifestyle programme ). Unlike a ‘soups-and-shakes’ type of diet that the NHS recently announced it will be prescribing to thousands of people in the UK who have the condition, it involves eating food based on the fundamentals of the Mediterranean diet .
And while he emphasises that individual medical guidance is key, and that no one diet will necessarily work for everyone ( see his contraindications here ) the evidence that radical calorie restriction works is strong.
What does a menu of 800 calories a day look like? It’s more than you think. Here’s an insight into the weekday meal plans, including a weekend option which features a brunch recipe combined with a more substantial supper. For further inspiration read Dr Michael Mosely's tips for how to succeed on the Fast 800 Diet.
Yoghurt with passion fruit and almonds - 170 calories
150g plain yoghurt
1 tbsp flaked almonds
1 passion fruit
Toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan over a low heat for a few minutes, until they turn golden. Remove from the pan and allow to cool.
Tip the yoghurt into a bowl and stir in the almonds. Cut the passion fruit in half, scoop out the seeds and stir them into the yoghurt.
Beetroot, apple and cannellini bean soup - 200 calories
Makes 3 portions; can be kept in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to a month.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
500g raw beetroot, grated
2 Bramley apples, peeled and quartered
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
2 star anise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 × 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Greek yoghurt, to serve
Handful of chives, chopped
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the cumin seeds and onions, and cook gently for 10 minutes with the lid on. Add the grated beetroot and apple, stir well, replace the lid and cook for a further 10 minutes. Pour in the stock, turn the heat up, add the star anise and season with a pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat, take out the star anise and blitz the soup in a blender until puréed. Return to the pan, add the beans and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with a swirl of Greek yoghurt and some chopped chives.
Luxury fish pie with celeriac topping - 470 calories
For the mash topping:
2 small celeriacs, peeled and diced
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 leeks, finely sliced
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
100g mushrooms, chopped
400g sustainable white fish fillets (e.g. haddock, cod, coley), cut into chunks
150g peeled prawns
1 bay leaf
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Make the mash by boiling the celeriac until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a blender, add a little milk, a knob of butter and some salt and pepper and whizz to a purée. Put to one side in a bowl.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the onion, leeks and herbs for a few minutes. Set aside on a plate. In the same frying pan, cook the mushrooms for a few minutes until lightly golden. Add them to the onion and leek mixture.
Place the fish and prawns in a large pan, add the milk and the bay leaf and bring to the boil. Poach for about 4 minutes, then lift out the fish and prawns with a slotted spoon. Keep the milk, removing any bones or skin and the bay leaf.
Arrange the fish on the bottom of an ovenproof serving dish and put the mushroom, onion and leek mixture on top. Pour over 3–4 tbsp of the cooking milk to add some moisture to the dish.
Cover with the mashed celeriac. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
MORE GLOSS: Dr Michael Mosley: why full-fat milk is better for weight loss
No-carb bircher - 180 calories
1 tbsp raisins
50ml apple juice
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 tbsp walnut pieces
Place the raisins in a bowl and pour over the apple juice. Leave to chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight.
When ready to eat, mix with the ground flaxseed and the yoghurt and sprinkle over the cinnamon and walnut pieces.
Crab and mustard lettuce cup - 210 calories
Mix 100g white crab meat with 1 tbsp crème fraîche, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, a squeeze of lemon juice, a small handful of chopped dill and 1 tsp capers.
Grilled chicken with white bean mash - 440 calories
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 shallot, finely chopped
1–2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 × 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Large handful of flat-leaf parsley
Steamed green beans or broccoli to serve
Drizzle a little of the olive oil over the chicken breasts and season well with a pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper. Heat a griddle pan and cook the chicken breasts for 10 minutes, turning frequently.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and add the shallots. Cook gently for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes until soft. Add the cannellini beans to the pan and mash roughly, adding a little stock or water to loosen. Stir in the parsley and season to taste.
Serve with the green veg.
No-carb waffles - 290 calories
Makes 2 waffles = 1 serving
2 egg whites plus 1 whole egg
2 tbsp coconut flour
2 tbsp milk
½ tsp baking powder
A few strawberries to serve
Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Stir in the coconut flour, milk, baking powder and the whole egg.
Heat up your waffle iron to the highest temperature, and grease or spray it with non-stick spray. Pour in the batter, and cook until browned, about 3–4 minutes. (If you don’t have a waffle iron, a hot frying pan will do; spray the pan with oil, and then use a ladle to pour half of the mixture to make a thick pancake.) Serve with the strawberries.
Pork with apples and shallots - 450 calories
1 boneless rolled pork leg joint (approx 3.5kg)
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch of fresh sage, finely chopped
5 tbsp olive oil 2 large leeks, diagonally sliced
6 small apples, cored and cut into quarters
1 tbsp butter
Preheat the oven to 240°C/gas mark 9. Unroll the pork and score the flesh with a sharp knife. Make a paste with the garlic, sage, a pinch of salt and pepper and 3 tbsp of the oil and then spread it over the meat. Roll the pork back up and tie it firmly.
Place the leeks in the bottom of a roasting dish, toss with the remaining oil, then sit the pork on top and roast for about 25 minutes or until the skin has bubbled and crisped. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, brown the shallots and apple wedges in the butter.
Turn the oven down to 180°C/gas mark 4. Place the shallots and apple wedges around the pork and roast for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer reads 75–80°C.
Remove the pork, apples and shallots from the oven and keep warm. Strain the pan juices into a small saucepan, add the cider, bring to the boil and simmer until slightly thickened. Slice the pork and serve with the apples, shallots and gravy.
Extract from The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet: Lose Weight Fast and Reprogramme Your Body, £8.99, by Dr Michael Mosley, published by Short Books Ltd.
Read more: Are you at risk of developing diabetes?
Find out more about the 800 calorie diet here