Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall loses 8lbs in 6 days with ‘fascinating’ change – ‘live longer’

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall licks his finger while cooking

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Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall used one version of the intermittent fasting diet method to shed excess weight after a gluttonous Christmas period back in 2013.

Extraordinarily, the chef dropped eight pounds between New Year and January 18, which is over half a stone – but how did he do it?

He stated: “At the turn of the year, like so many, I consumed way too much meat, cheese, cream, sugar and alcohol.

“And despite a garden bursting with Brussels sprouts, kale and winter salads, and a weekly delivery of organic apples, oranges, clementines and bananas, I know I didn’t eat nearly enough fruit and veg to offset the gluttony.

“And so I’ve been patting a tummy I didn’t have a few weeks ago, and wondering what to do about it,” he penned in The Guardian.

His solution was The Fast Diet, also known as the 5:2 diet.

“Beguiled” by this rapid weight loss programme, the chef explained: “The Fast Diet, by Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer, makes a compelling promise that with regular fasting (they propose two days out of every seven) you will quickly lose weight, while on non-fast days you can continue to eat (and, importantly, drink) whatever you like.”

This wasn’t Hugh’s first attempt to combat his weight gain, having previously tried cutting out alcohol and dairy products.

But this “self-imposed period of abstinence” was a short-term fix and according to the chef, far from a “sustainable approach to keeping trim”.

The Fast Diet, or 5:2 diet, lets slimmers enjoy their favourite foods the majority of the time, only cutting them out for two out of seven days.

Hugh continued: “The Fast Diet says I can continue to butter my bread, cheese my butter, and raise my glass – at least for five days a week.

“It also promises much more than mere weight loss. It will reduce my bad cholesterol, protect me against cancer and even sharpen my mind. It pretty much promises that I will live longer, and healthier.“

Dr Michael Mosley, who pioneered this diet, tried it himself when diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and found that the fat “melted” off him.

He lost a whopping nine kilos (1.42 stone) in less than 12 weeks, and reversed his health diagnosis.

With his culinary expertise, Hugh provided some insight on why developing an unhealthy relationship with food and becoming overweight is so easy.

“Many of the problems we give ourselves through the modern diet stem from the fundamentally flawed habit of piling a lot of different, unrelated ingredients on to a plate and scoffing them at high speed.

“Meat, wheat and cheese (the burger) – clearly foolhardy. Chocolate, sugar, butter, flour (the brownie) – delicious, but insane.

“These compound meals, too often glued together with synthesised products our bodies don’t even recognise as food, curdle and rot in our stomachs, giving us varying degrees of nausea, acid reflux, gaseousness and cramp, and pushing our stressed digestive systems to the absolute limit. No wonder we’re bloating like dead whales and dropping like flies.”

The “fascinating thing” about fasting, according to the chef, is that it offers a way out of “this tragic cul-de-sac”.

By forcing dieters to reduce their food intake and bring their food consumption back to basics for just part of the week, they will give rise to “a whole host of physical benefits”.

Dieters who want to eat their favourite foods and still lose weight can choose two non-consecutive days of the week to eat just 500 calories (for women) and 600 (for men), eating and drinking normally the rest of the week.

Hugh defended intermittent fasting as an alternative to “persuading, educating or forcing our citizens to cut down on fatty, sugary, processed foods and to eat loads more fresh fruit and veg”.

His own experience of intermittent fasting brought him rapid weight loss, shedding eight pounds in a mere six days.

“I believe in this fasting thing, I really do.

“With my strictly non-snacking version, I’ve lost eight pounds already, and I find the whole thing rather exhilarating. I feel I might just be part of a health revolution.”

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