• Michael Mosley provides tips for eating to support your immune system. (Joe Sarah)Source: Joe Sarah
The Fast 800 diet from Dr Michael Mosley promises to be the crash diet to end all diets. A new recipe cookbook details how to follow it, step-by-step and meal-by-meal.
Yasmin Noone

26 Jun 2019 - 9:14 AM  UPDATED 24 Mar 2020 - 2:16 PM

All it takes is one sentence from the British physician and science journalist, Dr Michael Mosley, to blow the minds of crash dieters everywhere.

“Contrary to what we are often told, losing weight fast doesn’t mean you’ll put it back on even faster,” writes Dr Mosley in the foreword newly released, The Fast 800 Recipe Book.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that over 2.3 million Australians aged 15 years and over go on a diet in a year. That’s despite the fact that health authorities and medical professionals often warn us against short-term diets because, they say, if you lose weight quickly, the chances are you’re likely to stack on more weight back than you lost after the diet ends.

Yet, in his new book, The Fast 800, Dr Mosley proposes a new crash diet for fast weight loss and better health. The 2019 diet is an improved version of the former 5:2 intermittent fasting diet, with easier fasting days.

“Contrary to what we are often told, losing weight fast doesn’t mean you’ll put it back on even faster.”

Last month, the accompaniment to The Fast 800 was also released: The Fast 800 Recipe Book, written by Dr Mosley's wife Dr Clare Bailey and expert food writer Justine Pattison, with a foreword by Dr Michael Mosley.

It details a low-carb, Mediterranean style of intermittent fasting. The idea is to stick to consuming 800 calories a day, every day, for at least two weeks to kick start weight loss, better your metabolic health and lower blood sugar levels. This level is considered to be low enough to induce mild ketosis, which is associated with fat burning, but high enough to ensure dieters get the nutrients they need.

The diet also introduces a new approach: Time Restricted Eating, where you eat all of your calories in a narrower time window each day, usually within eight to 12 hours.

“One of the main benefits of doing this diet is that you lose fat – fast – which is very motivating,” writes Dr Mosley in new The Fast 800 Recipe Book.

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How do we follow an 800-calorie meal plan?

The newly released Australian and New Zealand edition of The Fast 800 Recipe Book features 150 new low-carb, Mediterranean style recipes for intermittent fasting and weekly meal planners, formulated and calorie-coded by Dr Bailey. 

The book includes recipes for breakfast, brunch, shakes, soups, salads and occasional treats and are tailored to support your microbiome, writes Dr Calre Bailey. "Enabling those trillions of microbes living in your intestine to work more effectively on your behalf and produce substances that can boost your overall health and well-being, and even improve your mood." 

The 'gut garden'

It also features a meat-free chapter and sections devoted to animal-based proteins: fish, shellfish, chicken, turkey, pork, ham, lamb and beef, while also recognising the time-poor society we currently live in with a dedication section on 'food on the move' to help those busy cooks, cook healthily and fast.

“One of the main benefits of doing this diet is that you lose fat – fast – which is very motivating."

“As a general principle, the Mediterranean-style way of eating involves moving away from processed foods and towards eating food cooked from scratch and prepared in a more traditional way,” writes Dr Bailey and Pattison in the new book.

The authors say dieters should cut back on white starchy carbs, such as white bread and rice, as they readily convert to sugars in your body. On the flip side, the program encourages the consumption of olive oil, avocadoes, full-fat dairy, nuts and seeds, oily fish, masses of vegetables, some fruit, wholegrains, beans and lentils.

“While ‘lowish’ in carbohydrates, this is not a seriously restrictive diet, where you have to give up everything that contains carbs. However, it does mean reducing, and ideally avoiding sugary foods.”

Crunchy zucchini canapés 3 ways

Think of this as a healthy and easy version of blini. You don’t have to count the calories in the zucchini, as they are so low as to be insignificant.

How do we know this isn’t another fad diet?

Until recently the health system in Dr Mosley’s home country, the NHS, described 5:2 as a ‘fad diet’, he says in the book. “Since then, there has been a revolution in our understanding of the benefits of rapid weight loss.” Today, Dr Mosley writes, even the NHS is supportive of rapid weight loss diets through intermittent fasting techniques.

The Fast 800 diet is evidence-based. One recent study conducted in the UK DIRECT, published in The Lancet, used the philosophy of the calorie restricted eating plan as a dietary intervention.

The study randomly assigned over 300 patients with type 2 diabetes to a control group or diet intervention. Participants in the diet group at around 800 calories a day for three to five months. For the two to eight weeks following, they were gradually reintroduced to a healthy diet and given structured support for long-term weight loss maintenance.

“Not only were they slimmer and with lower blood sugar levels, but they had lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and were on far less medication.”

At the end of one year, half of all participants on the diet were in remission for type 2 diabetes and were off diabetes medication. One-quarter of the group had lost more than 15 kilos. People in the 800-calorie control group also dropped an average of 10 kilos, which they kept off for more than a year, while those in the control group only lost one kilo.

A follow-up study was conducted to see what happened to the same patients two years later. It showed the program sustained weight loss and remissions for over a third of people with type 2 diabetes at two years.

“Not only were they slimmer and with lower blood sugar levels, but they had lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and were on far less medication,” writes Dr Mosley, referring to the study as evidence for The Fast 800 diet.

“There were also far fewer side effects, such as heart attacks or new cases of cancer.”

Does Dr Michael Mosley practise the health lessons he preaches?
When Dr Michael Mosley speaks about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, intermittent fasting and good guts, the world listens. But how far does the doctor go to take his own health advice?

Top tips to follow on The Fast 800 diet

According to The Fast 800 Recipe Book, here are seven tips to following a low-carb, Mediterranean style of eating.

  • Reduce sugars and starchy foods.
  • Eat decent amounts of protein every day.
  • Increase your consumption of natural healthy fats, mainly plant-based.
  • Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables.
  • Avoid snacking between meals or late-night grazing.
  • Swap white rice and pasta for wholemeal versions and pulses, such as lentils, quinoa and beans.

As with any diet, the Fast 800 may not suit everyone. It’s advised that you consult a GP or medical professional before starting any diet.

The Fast 800 Recipe Book is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now ($AU35). 

Make these Fast 800 meals at home
Garlic prawns with mixed zucchini and spaghetti

The combination of spiralised zucchini and spaghetti works really well here – giving the dish more body, while keeping the calories low.

Baked salmon and eggs with chives

The salmon breakfast dish provides a healthy omega-3 boost for your brain and circulation, and helps reduce inflammation.

Spiced mango smoothie

A pinch of turmeric, cinnamon and ginger adds a healthy twist to this summery drink.

Barramundi steamed with Thai spices

This fragrant seafood dish pairs barramundi with pok choy, an excellent probiotic that promotes a healthy microbiome.