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Published On: Tue, Mar 13th, 2018

Slim down, stress less and sleep better! How 5:2 diet guru Dr Michael Mosley plans to tackle Britain’s health problems with new exercise plan

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By Barney Calman

Is Dr Michael Mosley the ultimate renaissance man? Doctor, television presenter, bestselling author and diet expert.
An intellectual and polymath, he read politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford, went into banking, got bored with that – so trained in medicine and then took a job at the BBC, where he has devoted himself wholeheartedly to discovering the secrets to healthy living, with astonishing success.
Even if you are not aware of Dr Michael Mosley, you will probably know of his work.
Heard friends or colleagues talking about trying a weight-loss plan that involves cutting your calories on only two days of the week, and eating normally for the rest of the time? That was him, and his 5:2 diet.
What about high-intensity exercise, which means working out for just three minutes a day? Dr Mosley again, with his Fast Exercise plan.
Reversing diabetes with diet rather than simply controlling it with drugs? Thanks to Dr Mosley, you – and more importantly your GP – might well know about that too. With his simple, authoritative and easy-to-follow advice, he has enabled millions to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.
Now he will be sharing those secrets with you. Starting next week, exclusively in The Mail on Sunday, is Dr Michael Mosley’s Life Plan, in which, every week, he will be revealing the pioneering science that will help keep you healthier, fitter and feeling fabulous, and sharing his encyclopaedic knowledge of modern medicine, along with his lust for learning new ways to live better.
His first instalment is a four-week plan that will help you get the best sleep of your life.
Do you want to live longer, feel calmer and happier, get fitter with the least effort and stay free of diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer?
Dr Mosley has a hotline to scientists across the globe who may just have the answer.
Ever wondered if cholesterol- busting statins really work? Or if you should take aspirin? Do you worry whether butter is bad for you, and what about sugar?
Dr Mosley has spoken to leading experts. And – as has become his trademark – he has probably tried out the theories himself, on camera for shows such as the BBC’s Horizon.
Mainstream medicine seems to be forever playing catch-up with Dr Mosley, who has built a career on being the first to sniff out cutting edge research.
I meet him in the kitchen of his home in Buckinghamshire, where he has lived for the past 18 years with his GP wife Clare Bailey and their four children aged between 19 and 27.
Michael is 61 this month, which is slightly unbelievable. He’s in great shape.
‘What can you do about ageing? You can wear decent clothes, but I’ve never been that interested. To be honest, it’s Clare who buys my clothes.’
Recently, his focus has been on type 2 diabetes – the blood sugar disease now revealed to be at almost epidemic proportions, with 3.7 million sufferers in Britain alone.
The illness is of personal interest to Dr Mosley. His father, Bill, developed the disease in his 50s and died aged 74 from complications including heart failure and dementia.
Back in 2012, when Dr Mosley was 55, tests revealed that he too had the disease, which can cause blindness, and can lead to amputations and kidney failure.
It was this bad news that led him towards the first of his life-transforming breakthroughs.
‘I thought it was interesting, but I was never going to do that in the long term. But I suggested we film a follow-up, and that’s when I came across the research going on in Chicago, California and Maryland which suggested you could get the same benefits by doing this kind of diet intermittently, rather than all the time.’
‘I’d read Dieting Makes You Fat by Geoffrey Cannon, which was hugely influential. And I’d seen my dad struggle with a whole load of bonkers diets – the low-fat diet, the Atkins, and something called the Drinking Man’s Diet. He’d never succeeded. But intermittent fasting seemed to really work.’
The method Dr Mosley tried, fasting by consuming just 600 calories for two days of the week and eating normally for the rest of the time, was a spectacular success.
He lost more than 20 lb, and his blood sugar went into the normal, non-diabetic range. It’s still there.
His TV programme about it went out in summer 2012 and by the end of that year, Dr Mosley’s 5:2 diet – first reported by this newspaper – was already a sensation.

To be cont.
Why does he think it took off?
‘Oddly, the term 5:2 was iconic. It was a novel way of doing something and there was some science behind it, which was helpful. The fact that I’d laid my body and reputation on the line to some degree by endorsing it was important.’

And of course, there were the celebrity fans: singer Beyoncé, former chancellor George Osborne, actor Benedict Cumberbatch and This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield to name a few.

The book he wrote with journalist Mimi Spencer detailing the plan, The Fast Diet, has shifted half a million copies in the UK, become a New York Times bestseller and topped the charts in 40 countries.

Dr Mosley has gone on to write two more smash hits: The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet, based on the work of Professor Roy Taylor, the Newcastle University researcher who is studying whether you really can ‘cure’ type 2 diabetes through healthy eating, and more recently the Clever Guts Diet, which focuses on naturally probiotic, fermented foods that promote digestive health.

Does Dr Mosley ever worry that he’s jumped the gun, by publicly backing a theory before it’s been widely accepted?

‘Of course,’ he says. It’s about looking at the evidence and seeing if it stacks up.’

After his own weight-loss success on the regime, does he consider himself living proof that diets do work, after all?

He says: ‘There are something like 55,000 diet books out there and a lot of them are absolute nonsense. But if you do what I suggest in my books, the evidence is that you will maintain a healthy weight.

‘The trouble is we are surrounded by temptation.’

Mosley’s focus in recent years has been more holistic: mind and body.

‘When I wrote the 5:2 it was about calorie restriction. Now I talk about the three pillars of any successful diet: cutting calories, exercise and conquering stress.

‘If you are stressed, you sleep badly, get hungry, eat junk and put on weight. You sleep even worse, and it becomes this hideous cycle.

‘Sleep is important and that’s why I want to launch my Life Plan talking about it.’ Of course, diets are big business. But for Dr Mosley, the interest is not the aesthetic outcome.

‘I’m a below-the-surface sort of person. That’s why I’m interested in the gut.

‘I’m not Joe Wicks [the 31-yearold pin-up “body coach”] and I’m not about to pose in my underpants.’

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook He chuckles. Bad news, I suggest, for his many female fans?

For the first time he seems vaguely lost for words. ‘I’ve never had… I suppose I occasionally get women coming up to me and saying their mother likes me.’

With that, he pops into his pantry and emerges with a jar of vivid red and purple sauerkraut. It’s a natural probiotic and feeds ‘friendly bacteria’ in the stomach.

‘It’s rather good and will keep for a year. Clare makes it,’ he says of his wife, a GP at a local surgery.

‘She loves food and, as well as contributing to my books, has written a couple of very successful recipe books herself. She tries the plans on her patients.’

He and Clare, 56, have been married for 32 years and met in medical school.

So is there a formula to a longlasting marriage, just as there is to weight loss?

‘Oh gosh… it’s about mutual attraction. Shared interests. Tolerance. Finding each other entertaining.

We are both the second child of four, and there has been some interesting research on personality type and where you fall in the family hierarchy.’

What can Mail on Sunday readers expect from Dr Michael Mosley’s Life Plan? ‘Broadly, the message that you can live a healthy lifestyle, hopefully without medication. That means eating well, staying a healthy weight, enjoying being active and being stress-free.

‘Next week, we’ll kick off with my four-week sleep guide.

‘Whether or not you have trouble sleeping, when life is hectic we can all benefit from simple steps that help calm the mind and get us ready for rest.

‘Each week in my Life Doctor column,

I’ll be giving updates, hints and tips to go with the Plan, and there will be recipes, too.

‘Over the coming months I’ll focus on diet, mental wellbeing and exercise, among other things.

I’m hoping that readers will write to me and I’ll be able to answer questions.

‘There will be a chance to connect with me online, too. I’m hoping this will be a new kind of column. I hope it’ll be helpful. And above all, it’s going to be simple.’

There can be no better prescription for your health.

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