It worked for Dr Michael Mosley , and according to trial results published in medical journal The Lancet, it could show promise for the millions of people diagnosed as prediabetic , type 2 diabetic or obese in the UK too: a calorie restricted diet, to the tune of around 800 calories a day, could be the most effective way to both lose belly fat and put type 2 diabetes into remission.
In a study described as “landmark” by Diabetes UK, nearly half of 298 patients following a daily 800 calorie meal plan for a period of five months reversed their type 2 diabetes, with weight loss of around 10-15kg thought to be the sweet spot for turning the diagnosis around. What’s more, 46 per cent of the patients on the trial, conducted by doctors at the Universities of Glasgow and Newcastle, remained in remission a year on, compared to 4 per cent of patients using current treatment methods. After the 800 calorie dieting period, patients worked with a dietitian to introduce a healthy, balanced nutrition plan with the aim of maintaining the weight lost.
It’s thought that losing weight, particularly around the belly, works to reverse diabetes as it helps to restore blood sugar levels to a normal level. An accumulation of fat around the pancreas can stop the body from producing enough of the blood sugar regulating hormone insulin, leading to uncontrolled blood sugar and type 2 diabetes. Losing weight helps the pancreas to function normally again, but said weight loss needs to be maintained for long-term results, otherwise type 2 diabetes is likely to reoccur.
Dr Michael Mosley’s Blood Sugar Diet is based around similar principles and informed by clinical trials carried out at the University of Newcastle, and while he emphasises that individual medical guidance is key, and that no one diet will necessarily work for everyone, the evidence that radical calorie restriction works for reducing belly fat and stabilising blood sugar levels is strong. Mosley’s plan in particular follows the following guidelines:
Stage one: Intensive blood sugar diet fasting period- an 800 calorie a day diet for eight weeks
Stage two: A more flexible 5:2 diet - intermittent fasting, eating 800 calories per day two days a week (altered from the original 5:2 concept of 500 calories for women and 600 for men).
Stage three/ a more gentle plan: A low carb approach based around the fundamentals of the Mediterranean diet . No calorie counting here, but less rapid and remarkable results in terms of weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal.
The maintenance stage: Mosley dubs this the “blood sugar diet way of life”, but it essentially involves keeping up the good work in terms of sticking to a healthy diet and weight, with windows for more indulgence from time to time. Basically this stage is sensible stuff that applies to all of us- the old chestnuts of moderation and eating well most of the time reap the greatest rewards.
Mosley himself reversed his type 2 diabetes diagnosis, avoided medication and lost 9kg by way of following this radical calorie restriction diet, and while he strongly emphasises that the Blood Sugar Diet isn’t appropriate for certain people ( see his contraindications here ), the potential for eating plans such as this to reduce one of the greatest health burdens of modern times is hugely exciting.
Thinking of trying it? Here's what an 800 calorie diet mal plan looks like.