Dr Michael Mosley likes to live on the edge – the cutting edge of health science, to be exact. Famous for his gonzo-style medical journalism and best-selling books The Fast Diet and more recently, The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet, Mosley loves nothing more than to bust myths, dig deeper and challenge conventional health and nutrition advice. So, when this industry renegade – who was in Sydney to speak at the ASTRA conference – offered his candid thoughts on how our approach to eating well and staying in shape is misguided, we took notes.
You think diet soft drinks are healthy
Yes, they’re dramatically lower in kilojoules than regular, sugar-laden soft drinks, but Mosley still recommends steering clear of them. “Research suggests that the artificial sugars in low-calorie drinks can cause inflammation in the gut in about 50 per cent of people, so I’m not a fan,” he says. The smarter choice? Sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime.
You’re terrified of your natural hunger signals
Mosley, who created the 5:2 diet (based on two days per week of reduced-kilojoule fasting) says that intermittent fasting assists weight loss and improves blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin sensitivity. Trouble is, we rarely allow ourselves to feel hungry. “As soon as you feel a grumble in your tummy, you don’t have to immediately go eat a muffin, you can tolerate hunger,” he says.
You eat low-fat dairy
You can heed the advice of your taste buds and choose full-fat milk and yoghurt. “The evidence is quite strong that some dairy fats are neutral and possibly good for you,” says Mosley. As well as being more satiating, research shows eating full-fat dairy foods is linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, which Mosley says may be thanks to a particular fatty acid (margaric acid) in dairy fat.
You’re partial to bread and pasta
Let’s be honest, who isn’t? First, the bad news. “Commercial breads are absolutely rammed with sugar and salt, and pasta has an incredibly high glycaemic index and is the equivalent of eating a tablespoon of sugar,” says Mosley. And the good news? Mosley approves of dense, dark rye bread. As for pasta? “If you pre-cook it, cool it, then reheat it, it becomes what’s called resistant starch, which reduces how much sugar your body absorbs,” he says.
You rely on willpower to make healthy choices
Relying on sheer mental fortitude to resist any treats in the house is not realistic. Dr Mosley cites a Cornell University study, in which researchers examined people’s kitchens. They found they could predict a family’s weight by the type of foods left out on counters. Similarly, we tend to pick what’s at eye-level in the fridge, so keep healthy foods within sight and reach.
You mainline the smoothies
Despite what smoothie-sipping Instagram ‘influencers’ may lead you to believe, pulverising your produce isn’t the best way to consume it. “When you make a smoothie it mashes up a lot of the fibre, which is the critical thing to slow the absorption of sugars, so I think you’re better off eating whole vegetables and fruit,” advises Mosley.
The companion cookbook to Dr Michael Mosley's bestselling The 8-week Blood Sugar Diet book is available now.