16 February 2019
I purchased the Kindle version, initially just to see what all the fuss was about.
There are more wonder-diets out there than there are stars in the sky, and pretty much all of them a) don't work, b) are potentially unhealthy, or c) just amount to eating fewer calories (but with a price, an unusual food item, and a celebrity name attached).
This one certainly seemed different. I've seen a few of Michael Mosley's TV programmes, which I find informative and interesting, and apart from the one where I thought he was mad (the one where he co-starred with the tapeworm), I've been impressed. Since he is a doctor (albeit in Psychiatry), this gives him additional credibility as far as I'm concerned.
Mosley's 5:2 diet had passed me by - I don't really bother with diets usually, and I think I probably just dismissed it as another fad, even if I'd ever heard of it. However, a friend of mine had been following it. I only know that in hindsight, because when he kept telling me about how he was fasting for days at a time, I thought HE was mad too. The idea of not eating (i.e. fasting) for days just seemed so... well, wrong (we've been force-fed the "little and often" mantra for years). It was only when I started reading this Fast 800 book (which is a development from the 5:2) that I realised where my friend had got it from - the major difference being that a scientific explanation from a medical expert carries a lot more credibility than your best mate giving sketchy details over a beer in the bar before you go to a rock concert. Of course, if he'd have mentioned that "fasting" didn't mean not eating anything at all, it might have made more sense coming from him, but the way he described it, it sounded like he was literally not eating anything for several days at a time. Or maybe I just wasn't listening properly. But whatever.
My only criticism of the Fast 800 book would be the recipes. I find recipes in most cookbooks to be pretentious at the best of times. What's wrong with a nice piece of fish and some vegetables? Well, nothing - unless you decide to christen it with a daft name and add a load of stuff that doesn't sound very nice. And don't even get me started on Zero Noodles ("zero" apparently means it's best not to use any (as they're pointless), and go for a handful of beansprouts instead). That said, the recipes gave me a lot of ideas, and I can now live on chicken curry (with lentils), lentil curry (with lentils), homemade soup (with lentils, and sometimes chicken), stew (with lentils), and so on. I guess a large part of the trick is not to eat a whole batch of it in one go, as I was previously quite capable of doing. I freeze it in small portions as per the recipe ideas, then use it as needed. Note that with chicken curry, I cook the chicken fresh, then add the lentil base to it. And with the stews and soups, I cram every vegetable I can get my hands on into it. It's all about fibre, fibre, fibre. Then some more fibre. Oh, and a bit of protein so that you don't fall to bits later.
Joking aside, sticking to 800 calories isn't anywhere near as hard as I thought it'd be. I can snack on grapes, apples, and the occasional hard boiled egg, but as long as I don't pig out - and make sure I don't eat (i.e fast) at all for at least 12 hours (bedtime until late morning), there's no problem. According to Mosley, the fasting part means your body goes into the keto mode and burns fat instead of anything you cram into your gut via your mouth.
Remember that this is the main thrust of the book: that you force your body to get energy from stored fat and not directly from what you eat during the period when you are fasting. Mosley makes it quite clear that the Fast 800 is a development FROM the earlier 5:2, and that you can switch between the two, so it is wrong to claim that this is just a rehash, as some reviewers have. It isn't, and it is backed up by newer studies that came about from the earlier 5:2. Furthermore, it isn't just "a book" - something you read then put down. It is supposed to be a manual for something you actually do as a result of reading it. So it probably won't get many gold stars from habitual book reviewers on here.
I confess that I lapse a bit at weekends (and at concerts), and drink beer. I stick to the 800 calories in food as best I can, though a curry after a rock concert is still an essential item. The Fast 800 is very low-carb, and although I put a couple of new potatoes in any stew, I use far fewer than the whole bag full I used to.
The bottom line is that between January 2nd and mid-February (when I wrote this) I have lost 10kg (that's just over 1 stone 7lbs in Brexit money). A stone and a half in seven weeks! And it's still coming off. I've not been able to lose it like that before. I've moved in three or four belt holes (I'll soon have to make some more), and my shirts now hang AROUND me instead of draping OVER me. I actually feel less bloated, too, after I eat, and I also don't feel like sleeping after a meal anymore. And probably most important of all, I'm not actually THAT hungry while I'm doing it.
All I can say is that for me, the claims of rapid weight loss have been proven true so far.
Anyone who wants to lose weight could do much worse than give this a try. I've been very impressed.