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DR MICHAEL MOSLEY: Food to improve your mood… and boost your energy!

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dr michael mosley food to improve your mood and boost your energy

People often stop me in the street to tell me how good they feel after shedding weight on my Fast 800 programme.

As well as looking slimmer and seeing big improvements in blood pressure and blood sugars, they are delighted to discover they have fresh reserves of energy and a new zest for living.

Often this comes as something of a surprise to them — they’ve been so used to feeling permanently exhausted and sleeping badly on a regimen of ready-meals, constant snacks and little or no exercise that they’ve actually forgotten how life used to be when they were lighter and fitter.

But hearing about people joining exercise groups — or being able to play with their children or grandchildren — is music to my ears because ultimately the goal of a good weight-loss programme is to enable you to enjoy better health and quality of life than before.

They’ve been so used to feeling permanently exhausted and sleeping badly on a regimen of ready-meals, constant snacks and little or no exercise that they’ve actually forgotten how life used to be when they were lighter and fitter (file photo)

They’ve been so used to feeling permanently exhausted and sleeping badly on a regimen of ready-meals, constant snacks and little or no exercise that they’ve actually forgotten how life used to be when they were lighter and fitter (file photo)

They’ve been so used to feeling permanently exhausted and sleeping badly on a regimen of ready-meals, constant snacks and little or no exercise that they’ve actually forgotten how life used to be when they were lighter and fitter (file photo)

So I was very pleased to learn that Kerry Moxon, a 41-year-old administrator from Sheffield, had enthusiastically taken up spinning classes after losing 2 st 2 lb in eight weeks on the Shape Up Britain challenge.

The fast 800 challenge 

Our volunteers took part in the Fast 800 online diet programme, which involves recipes, advice, exercise plans and access to online coaching. They were also given Fast 800 shakes to complement the recipes.

To reap the best health benefits, you need to keep up your healthy habits

To reap the best health benefits, you need to keep up your healthy habits

To reap the best health benefits, you need to keep up your healthy habits

Before they began, they were given comprehensive consultations and assessments at Bupa Health Clinics to check measurements including blood pressure, diabetes risk (calculated using several factors including HbA1c blood tests), heart rhythm screening, lipid profile, weight and body mass index. They were then re-assessed after eight weeks. Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, medical director of Bupa Health Clinics, says: ‘It is great to see that the Daily Mail volunteers have been able to make such an improvement in just eight weeks.’

But he emphasises this is just the beginning — to reap the best health benefits, you need to keep up your healthy habits.

Visit thefast800.com for the online programme. For more information on the health assessments, go to bupa.co.uk

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Kerry freely admits the weight ‘piled on’ — three stone to be precise — when her gym closed and she found herself ‘living off toast’ during lockdown.

‘I’d tried to lose weight on my own but it wasn’t shifting. My knees were clicking, my blood pressure was a bit raised and when I saw the number on the scales I thought: “How have I let myself get to this point?”’

Just eight weeks later, it’s a different story. ‘I’ve got so much more energy now and, with the gym reopened, I’ve got something of a spin class addiction. I’m doing ten classes a week, but I love it!’ she enthused.

The coronavirus pandemic has proved a wake-up call for anyone who’s carrying too much weight, and that’s most of us: two-thirds of British adults are now classed as either overweight or obese.

Not only are you more likely to die or suffer severe complications from Covid-19 if you’re overweight but a vaccine, when one becomes available, is less likely to be effective.

On top of that, more and more research is now pointing towards the increased risks of developing other serious chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and dementia if you have a bulging waistline. This is alarming, but don’t despair. As we’ve been revealing all this week, it is possible to reverse all this within a matter of just weeks, as our unique experiment has shown.

It was with this in mind that I joined forces with the Daily Mail to devise our special Shape Up Britain challenge with the help of my wife Dr Clare Bailey, a GP and best-selling food writer.

We’ve put together a special series, which we’ve been sharing all this week, full of tasty low-carb, low-calorie recipes and advice based on the robust science behind our Fast 800 diet.

To show you what could be achieved, we recruited the help of normal people, all of them carrying too much weight and all wanting to change.

Thirteen people who live on the same street in Chudleigh, Devon, and 17 members of a Facebook friendship group based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, stepped forward to see how much weight they could lose in just eight weeks, and what other health benefits they would reap.

Their weight loss has been most impressive: the two groups lost 39 st 8 lb between them, with 23 individuals losing more than a stone each.

But even more brilliant to see is the exciting impact losing weight has had on other areas of their lives.

All our volunteers were given detailed assessments before they started with Bupa Health Clinics to ensure they were suitable candidates and to unearth any health issues. These were then repeated after eight weeks.

There were reports of reduced blood pressure readings, improved cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar levels and reduced joint pain as well as other health benefits besides.

It’s fair to say that many found it quite an adjustment to swap their old habits for a new regimen, particularly if they’d been eating a lot of processed food high in sugar or starchy carbs. ‘I was shattered for the first week, but my energy levels soon returned,’ was how Kerry summed up her transition to low-carb eating.

Secrets to our shape up Britain success

Our 30 volunteers lost 39 st 8 lb over eight weeks. Here’s how you can emulate them:

  • Use cinnamon instead of sugar as a sweetener — sprinkle it over yoghurt, for instance.
  • Drink fizzy water and herbal tea to stave off hunger pangs. 
  • Keep your hands busy if you get hungry — take up a new hobby whether it’s knitting or gardening.  
  • Enjoy pudding? Save your ‘breakfast’ until after your main meal in the evening. 
  • Find an exercise you love such as a spin class or a dance video on YouTube and download an exercise or steps app to see how much exercise you’re doing, then try to beat the total.
  • Join a Facebook or WhatsApp group to share tips and motivation.
  • Plan, plan, plan ahead — it makes all the difference if you have a lunch or breakfast you can simply grab from the fridge. 
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‘The first four days were tough,’ agrees 35-year-old Victoria Bateman, who lives in Chudleigh and works in hospitality and often grabbed ‘something unhealthy’ for supper.

But she persevered on our Fast 800 programme, inspired by the simplicity of the recipes to lose 2 st 1 lb.

‘The tomato and cannelloni bean soup was so simple but so filling and satisfying. I’d often take it to work for lunch. By day ten, I found I’d adapted. I was less tired and sleeping better,’ she says. ‘With a stone off, I’ve got so much more energy,’ agrees Carly Murphy, a 32-year-old party planner from Rotherham who lost a stone.

There are good reasons for this. Our typically busy lives mean we often grab snacks, sandwiches and ready-meals rather than cooking from scratch, and these tend to be full of sugars and starchy carbohydrates that cause blood sugar levels to spike.

Because high levels of sugar in the blood are toxic, our bodies respond to the excess glucose by producing lots of the hormone insulin. This makes your body store that excess energy around your waist in the form of fat.

But the surge in insulin, required to rapidly bring down your blood sugar levels, also has the side-effect of producing an energy slump, which is why many people feel tired in the middle of the afternoon, particularly if they’ve had a high-carb lunch.

The Fast 800 diet, however, with its focus on Mediterranean-style ingredients such as fish, good fats, nuts, legumes and plenty of fruit and vegetables, ensures you don’t get such big blood sugar spikes. So shedding an unwanted spare tyre is only the beginning of the many positive health benefits you can expect if you join our Shape Up Britain challenge.

To inspire you further, today we’re sharing some more delicious Mediterranean-style, low-carb recipes created by my GP wife Clare from the wide selection that our volunteers enjoyed.

Soup was a particular favourite with our volunteers, even with those who didn’t regard themselves as soup fans. It’s easy to make and store.

There are so many different flavours you can experiment with, and it’s also surprisingly satisfying.

Ring the changes with the fennel and butterbean soup featured here. Another autumn favourite is pumpkin and pancetta soup (see thefast800.com for this and more recipes).

All have been carefully calculated to give you all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need for optimum health and keep you feeling full and satisfied. As someone who’s been lucky enough to sample plenty of Clare’s cooking over the years, I know you’ll enjoy them.

Start on our Shape Up Britain challenge today and in just eight weeks’ time you, too, could be lighter and have more energy than you’ve had for years.

  • NOTE: The Fast 800 is only suitable for those who are overweight or obese. If you have any health concerns or you are taking medication, speak to your GP before embarking on the plan. 

 Apple, Pear and Hazelnut Yoghurt

Apple, Pear and Hazelnut Yoghurt

Apple, Pear and Hazelnut Yoghurt

Apple, Pear and Hazelnut Yoghurt

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: nil

Serves 1

  • 1 pear, sliced
  • 10 g hazelnuts
  • 100 g plain full-fat Greek yoghurt
  • 1 apple, sliced  

Place yoghurt in a bowl and top with sliced fruit and hazelnuts.

Calories per serving: 287 

Green Brekkie Bowl

Green Brekkie Bowl

Green Brekkie Bowl

Green Brekkie Bowl

Prep time: 15 minutes 

Cook time: 20 minutes  

Serves 1

  • ½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 70 g kale, de-stemmed and shredded
  • ½ courgette (approx 75 g), chopped
  • 50 g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 50 g spinach leaves 
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar 
  • ½ avocado, mashed 

Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add the olive oil, paprika, kale and courgette.

Cook for approximately 7 minutes, or until the kale turns soft, you may need to add a splash of water to help this along. Now add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes.

Finally, add the spinach, turn off the heat and stir through. To poach the eggs, add water and vinegar to a large saucepan until 8 cm deep. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Crack an egg into a small bowl. Using a large spoon, gently stir the water in a circular motion to create a whirlpool. This will draw the egg into the centre of the saucepan. Carefully slide the egg into the water.

Cook for 3 minutes for a soft yolk, or 4 minutes for a firm yolk. Using a slotted spoon, remove the egg from the water. Repeat with the other egg.

Place the wilted greens into a large bowl, add the avocado and top with the poached eggs. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.

Calories per serving: 343 

Greek Yoghurt and Dill Chicken with Greens

Greek Yoghurt and Dill Chicken with Greens

Greek Yoghurt and Dill Chicken with Greens

Greek Yoghurt and Dill Chicken with Greens

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 13 minutes 

Serves 2

  • 80 g plain full-fat Greek yoghurt
  • Fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed  
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 360 g skinless chicken breast
  • 150 g green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1 bunch tenderstem broccoli

In a large bowl, combine the yoghurt, dill, garlic, juice of ½ the lemon and 2 tsp of olive oil. Whisk together, cover and refrigerate.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the chicken for approximately 15 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside — cover with tin foil to keep warm.

Steam the beans and tenderstem broccoli over a pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until tender. Drain.

Cut the chicken into strips, divide between two plates with the beans and tenderstem broccoli. Drizzle the yoghurt mixture over, season with salt and pepper. Squeeze over remaining lemon juice and enjoy.

COOK’S TIP: Cooking for family? Serve with brown rice, lentils or a slice of seeded bread for those with no weight to lose.

Calories per serving: 339 

Mushroom Stroganoff with Greens

Mushroom Stroganoff with Greens

Mushroom Stroganoff with Greens

Mushroom Stroganoff with Greens

Prep time: 8 minutes

Cook time: 18 minutes

Serves 2 

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced 
  • 2 tsp ground paprika 
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and diced 
  • 350 g button mushrooms, sliced 
  • 150 ml vegetable stock 
  • 3 tsp Worcestershire sauce 
  • 150 g broad beans
  • ¼ cauliflower (approx 200 g), cut into florets 
  • ½ head broccoli (approx 150 g), cut into florets 
  • 45 g plain full-fat Greek yoghurt 
  • 50 g alfalfa sprouts 

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the paprika and garlic and cook for a further minute. 

Add the mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes. Pour in the stock and Worcestershire sauce, bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam the broad beans, cauliflower and broccoli for 5-6 minutes, until tender. Take the mushrooms off the heat and stir in the yoghurt.

Season to taste. Divide the stroganoff with the steamed vegetables and alfalfa sprouts between two plates.

Calories per serving: 361 

Asparagus Salad with Egg

Asparagus Salad with Egg

Asparagus Salad with Egg

Asparagus Salad with Egg

Prep time: 5 minutes 

Cook time: 10 minutes 

Serves 1 

  • ¼ lemon, juice only
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 tsp capers
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 6 asparagus spears 
  • 60 g cherry tomatoes, halved 

In a blender, combine the lemon juice with spring onion, capers and garlic, and blend until almost smooth. While still blending, gradually add olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Add a splash of water to help with the blending if there’s not enough liquid.

Hard boil the eggs. To do this, half fill a saucepan with water (ensure you have enough water to cover the eggs) and bring to boil. Once the water is boiling, gently, lower in the eggs and boil for 7 minutes.

Remove the eggs from the boiling water and immediately place them into a bowl of cold water. Peel and halve the eggs — season with salt and pepper.

In a serving bowl, mix tomatoes into the asparagus and arrange eggs on top. 

Top with the dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Calories per serving: 251 

Protein-packed Salad

Protein-packed Salad

Protein-packed Salad

Protein-packed Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes 

Cook time: Nil  

Serves 2

  • ½ x 400 g tin red kidney beans
  • ½ x 400 g tin brown lentils
  • 30 g rocket
  • 2 tbsp capers, and ½ tsp caper brine
  • 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • ½ tbsp tahini
  • ½ tbsp tamari sauce
  • ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar

To make the salad, drain the lentils and kidney beans and split across two bowls with the rocket leaves and capers. 

For the dressing, mix the caper brine, peanut butter, tahini, tamari sauce and apple cider vinegar together in a bowl. Add a splash of water if it needs loosening. 

To serve, pour half the dressing over each bowl of salad.

Calories per serving: 222

Fennel and Butterbean Soup

Fennel and Butterbean Soup

Fennel and Butterbean Soup

Fennel and Butterbean Soup

Prep time: 12 minutes 

Cook time: 25 minutes 

Serves 2

  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped  
  • ½ onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 courgette (approx 150 g), chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
  • 600 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 x 400 g tin butter beans, rinsed and drained 

Saute fennel, carrot, onion, courgette and garlic in a large saucepan with a splash of water until the onion has softened.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the butter beans and stir until warmed through.

Using a hand blender or food processor, blend until the soup becomes smooth. Divide in two and serve. Season to taste.

Calories per serving: 218

Fasting has given me MORE energy 

I want to be in good shape at 40

Chris Hall, 39, is a company director from Sheffield and is married to Sarah, with whom he has three children, Taylor-Jo, 19, Louis, 15, and Alfie-Bear, 12. He says:

As I run a kids’ football team I’ve always been active, but years of eating rubbish had seen the pounds creep on. I had been suffering from a bad back and my knees were starting to hurt, too. So when a friend put me forward for the Shape Up Britain challenge I thought: ‘Why not?’

I’m turning 40 in a few weeks and I want to start my new decade afresh.

Craig Hall before starting Fast 800

Craig Hall before starting Fast 800

Craig Hall after Fast 800

Craig Hall after Fast 800

Chris Hall, 39, is a company director from Sheffield and is married to Sarah, with whom he has three children, Taylor-Jo, 19, Louis, 15, and Alfie-Bear, 12

Craig Hall 

TABLE TITLE
Before weight  15 st 10 lb
After 14 st 1 lb
Total weight loss  1 st 9 lb 
Height  5 ft 8 in 
BMI before  33.3 
BMI after  29.8 
Waist before  36 in 
Waist after  34 in 
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The key to weight loss has been the fasting for 16 hours a day. I’m not a breakfast person so it was easy for me to skip that and have lunch.

I’ve been using the Fast 800 recipe book more than the online plan and have rediscovered my love of cooking.

Before starting this diet, I realised we were relying too much on convenience food. But now I like cooking meals such as Sunday lunch with plenty of veg and or Parmesan chicken. I’ll even have some of the leftovers for lunch the next day.

If I have a craving about 9pm, I’ll have some green tea and I’ve even been able to treat myself to the odd takeaway or a couple of pints of beer, and the weight has still come off.

My wife Sarah has been enjoying the meals with me and she’s lost 8lb, too. I’ve found I am moving around more easily. My knees and back are much better. The weight was all around my stomach and it’s disappeared.

I want to get down to 13 st and I think it will be easy to stick to this way of eating for the rest of my life.

My uniform fits again

Kelly Davis, 41, a community children’s nurse, is married to Stephen. The couple have two sons, Finley, 17, and Cameron, 15, and live in Chudleigh, Devon. She says:  

Whenever I have tried dieting in the past, the weight would just go back on again. So much so that I’d given up.

Kelly Davis before starting Fast 800

Kelly Davis before starting Fast 800

Kelly Davis after Fast 800

Kelly Davis after Fast 800

Kelly Davis, 41, a community children’s nurse, is married to Stephen. The couple have two sons, Finley, 17, and Cameron, 15, and live in Chudleigh, Devon

Kelly Davis 

TABLE TITLE
Before weight  15 st 3 lb
After 13 st 3 lb
Total weight loss  2 st 
BMI before  40.2 
BMI after  34.9
Dress size before  18 
Dress size after  14 
Waist before  41 in 
Waist after  38 in 
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As a result, I was feeling low and not good about myself. I wouldn’t get on the scales so when I started the Fast 800 plan and found I was the heaviest I’ve ever been, I was horrified.

But it wasn’t really surprising because I was comfort-eating and that left me feeling sluggish so I didn’t do much exercise. My work uniform was tight and when I caught myself in the mirror, I looked lousy.

This has been an amazing opportunity to stop bad habits. For me, it wasn’t a diet so much as a different way of life and one I could incorporate with family meals for the boys. I’ve loved the sheer choice of dishes such as the garlic prawns, and the pesto cod. It’s all so tasty!

It was a challenge at the start. The first week I had headaches and no energy. But after giving up sugar, I expected this would happen. But when the weight started falling off, it was better than any kind of sugar rush.

Within the first week, I’d lost 10 lb and I was a stone lighter within three weeks. It was like shedding my old life. In fact, someone at work the other day said I was glowing.

Obviously, the diet and weight loss has played a key part in that, but so has taking up mindfulness and exercising again. I love skipping and doing the HIIT exercises from the Fast 800 online programme. Now my clothes fit so much better and I feel less bloated.

Best of all, I feel happier, which means everyone in the house is happier. That’s why I’m going to stick with this. It has literally been a revelation.

Endorphin rush beats a sugar high 

As our volunteers discovered, the Fast 800 plan has another commonly reported benefit — a more positive outlook on life.

‘I’ve found my mood has improved,’ says mother-of-one Victoria Bateman, 35, who works in hospitality management and lives in Chudleigh, Devon, with husband Kieron.

‘I have taken antidepressants in the past so can be prone to feeling low. I’m not on medication at the moment, but can sometimes feel a bit down.

‘But I haven’t felt at all like this since starting the diet. I do wonder if that has played a part.’

Victoria is right: there is good evidence a Mediterranean diet will improve your mood.

That’s probably because the fibre and other nutrients ‘feed’ the good bacteria in your gut, which in turn produce chemicals that dampen inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. And that helps reduce depression and anxiety.

In other words, eating certain fruit and vegetables — including onions, berries and leeks — can have a direct, positive effect on mood and mental wellbeing.

‘I find myself feeling so much more relaxed,’ says Stephen Brown, the 43-year-old manager of a holiday park in Devon who lost 2 st 1 lb. ‘I used to be quite an anxious person, waking up in the middle of the night with my mind teeming with what I had to do the following day. Now I sleep like a baby.’

Another big benefit is once you start losing weight, you’re more inclined to exercise simply because it isn’t such hard work.

This was true for civil servant Joanna Brown, 41, from Sheffield, who lost 1 st 8 lb. ‘I’ve had a personal trainer for a while and I’ve noticed the exercises are getting easier. I feel much lighter when I am moving,’ she says.  

  • Recipes taken from thefast800.com online programme followed by our volunteers. The Fast 800 Recipe Book: Low-carb, Mediterranean style recipes for intermittent fasting and longterm health by Dr Clare Bailey and Justine Pattison, foreword by Dr Michael Mosley (Short Books, £16.99)

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Health

Was James Cracknell’s 100-mile run over five days with no food the daftest stunt ever?

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was james cracknells 100 mile run over five days with no food the daftest stunt ever

He has trekked 370 miles of Arabian desert, rowed naked across 2,000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, survived a traumatic brain injury during a 2010 cycling accident, and was part of Cambridge University’s triumphant team in last year’s Boat Race.

It would be fair to say that Olympic champion James Cracknell enjoys a challenge. But was his latest stunt, which he completed last week, his riskiest yet?

Last Saturday, the 48-year-old father-of-three embarked on what would seem, at first glance, a relatively harmless, if impressive, endeavour: running 100 miles over five days. Only, as he revealed to his 90,000 Twitter followers, he had decided to do so without eating anything for the duration.

Cracknell and his seven team-mates – including bloggers and healthcare professionals – fuelled themselves on water and the occasional black coffee. Two of the group have type 1 diabetes, a condition in which the body does not produce insulin – the hormone needed to metabolise food for fuel – meaning they are at an increased risk of a potentially fatal seizure if they go for too long without food.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the stunt has been branded ‘dangerous’, ‘irresponsible’ and, in the words of Dr Giles Yeo, a Cambridge University obesity expert, ‘a really, really stupid idea’.

Cracknell, however, has a point to prove. He has claimed the body can fuel itself on its fat stores alone, and that the daily 260g of carbohydrates recommended by UK health guidelines has no scientific basis.

James Cracknell's 100-mile run over five days has been branded 'dangerous', 'irresponsible' and, in the words of Dr Giles Yeo, a Cambridge University obesity expert, 'a really, really stupid idea'

James Cracknell's 100-mile run over five days has been branded 'dangerous', 'irresponsible' and, in the words of Dr Giles Yeo, a Cambridge University obesity expert, 'a really, really stupid idea'

James Cracknell’s 100-mile run over five days has been branded ‘dangerous’, ‘irresponsible’ and, in the words of Dr Giles Yeo, a Cambridge University obesity expert, ‘a really, really stupid idea’

The theory, popular with many low-carb converts, is that once the body runs out of carbohydrates – rapidly converted to sugar and utilised for energy – it burns fat, prompting speedier weight loss.

His second goal is to show that a low-carb diet is an effective therapeutic treatment for diabetes and beneficial for pre-diabetics.

Despite the criticism from some medics, others were supportive. Four healthcare professionals, including an NHS GP and a specialist in child eating disorders, were involved in the challenge, with some participating themselves. And former Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson, who claims he lost 8st as a result of cutting carbs, wrote: ‘I wish I was with you!’

So, is it really as stupid an idea as it might seem? According to daily YouTube videos posted by Cracknell’s fellow runner Steve Bennett, founder of supplement company Primal Living, the challenge was a ‘science-breaking’ success, with participants finishing on ‘high energy’ and with no health complications.

But according to Renee McGregor, a specialist dietician who works with Team GB athletes, they had a lucky escape.

What’s the difference…between gallstones and kidney stones? 

Gallstones result from a chemical imbalance in bile, a substance involved in fat digestion. 

When symptoms occur, it’s often after eating fatty foods. If the stones become trapped or cause inflammation, they may be removed by keyhole surgery.

Kidney stones, which are made of crystallised chemicals, can result in agonising pain and kidney damage. 

Extreme dehydration, certain drugs and high-protein diets can increase the risk of them developing. The pain they cause may lead to hospitalisation. 

Small stones may be passed in urine. Larger ones can require surgery.

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Cracknell’s health claims about the benefits of fasted exercise – especially for type 1 diabetics – is ‘scarily incorrect’, says McGregor.

Unlike type 2 diabetes, which studies have shown can, in some cases, be put into remission via a weight-loss diet, type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system and cannot be treated with lifestyle changes alone. Type 1 diabetics need regular injections of the vital hormone insulin, which helps the body absorb sugar, used for energy, from food. And for them, eating nothing at all can be fatal, especially while exercising, says Dr Yeo.

‘First there’s a chance of hypoglycaemia, when the blood sugar levels drop drastically, risking brain damage, coma, or even sudden death,’ he adds. ‘Even if you’ve eating lots previously and you’re not injecting insulin – keeping blood sugar high – exercising for long periods while starving yourself makes hypoglycaemia more likely. The dangerous drops in blood sugar can happen at a moment’s notice in type 1 diabetics.’

Then there’s the risk that the blood could become dangerously acidic, a state known as ketoacidosis, which Dr Yeo says could also become fatal ‘within hours’. ‘Acidic compounds called ketones build up when the body burns its own fat,’ he explains. ‘But this can quickly become uncontrolled in people with type 1 diabetes. Even a slight increase in the acidity of the blood could put you in a coma within hours, if left untreated.’

According to NHS guidance, a blood ketone level above 0.6mmol is a cause for concern. On day four of the challenge, participant Jon Furniss, an engineer who has type 1 diabetes, wrote on his Twitter feed that his ketones measured 5.8mmol – more than eight times the NHS’s safe limit.

Furniss added: ‘Ketones alone do not signal ketoacidosis, that happens after VERY high blood glucose. My BG [blood glucose, or blood sugar level] has been normal throughout.’

Yet a wealth of medical studies contradict this.

Low-carb diet club diabetes.co.uk says: ‘In most cases, ketoacidosis in people with diabetes will be accompanied by high sugar levels. However, ketoacidosis can also occur at low or normal blood glucose levels. This may occur if someone who is insulin dependent neither eats nor takes sufficient insulin for a prolonged period of time.’

And the risks of a fasting marathon don’t apply only to diabetics – it could harm healthy people, too.

‘Research shows that even two or three 60-minute sessions of exercise without eating before can dramatically suppress the immune system because of an increase in stress hormones, ‘ says McGregor.

Cracknell claims the body can fuel itself on its fat stores alone, and that the daily 260g of carbohydrates recommended by UK health guidelines has no scientific basis

Cracknell claims the body can fuel itself on its fat stores alone, and that the daily 260g of carbohydrates recommended by UK health guidelines has no scientific basis

Cracknell claims the body can fuel itself on its fat stores alone, and that the daily 260g of carbohydrates recommended by UK health guidelines has no scientific basis

‘Studies on marathon runners show that competitors are highly susceptible to bacterial and viral infections for a week afterwards, which isn’t ideal at this current time. Even after five days of fasting while exercising there’s likely to be a dramatic drop in sex hormones, affecting everything from cognitive function to bone health to fertility.’

Professor Mike Gleeson, an expert in exercise physiology at Loughborough University, has serious concerns. ‘It doesn’t take long to become deficient in minerals and vitamins we don’t store well, including Vitamins C and B – essential for healthy blood cells and providing organs and muscle with enough energy to function. You’ll quickly become deficient in protein, so you’re likely to lose quite a bit of muscle.’

And rather than improving athletic performance, as suggested by some of Cracknell’s supporters, running on empty will hinder it.

What to read, watch and do 

READ

The Courage To Care: A Call For Compassion

Christie Watson, a former nurse who returned to work in critical care during the first peak of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, shares inspirational stories about those who work on hospital wards and the bravery of the patients and families they care for.

Vintage Publishing, £16.99

The Courage To Care: A Call For Compassion

The Courage To Care: A Call For Compassion

The Courage To Care: A Call For Compassion

WATCH

Freddie Flintoff: Living With Bulimia

Former international cricket star Freddie Flintoff opens up about his eating disorder of 20 years. He meets other sufferers and specialists across the UK in an effort to find out more.

Tomorrow, 9pm, BBC1

DO

The Oxford Science + Ideas Festival

A month-long series of live experiments, talks and virtual activities for children and adults, covering everything from vaccines and new drugs to climate science and quantum physics.

October 1 to 31

if-oxford.com/events

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‘It’s hard for the body to use fat for energy, and when it can’t be broken down quickly enough, the body will begin to break down muscle, increasing the risk of strains,’ says McGregor. ‘Most people would eventually just hit a wall.’

And this, say the experts, is why carbohydrates are crucial. ‘When we consume carbs, they’re broken down into glucose and absorbed into cells where it’s used for energy. But this process also triggers the release of chemicals that help break down fat, which can then also be used as fuel,’ says Dr Yeo.

Tellingly, on day two, more than 20 miles into the challenge, Steve Bennett reported feeling ‘thoroughly miserable’ and ‘void of energy’. He said: ‘I feel lousy and miserable. My feet ache, my knees ache, my toes ache – and we still have three days to go.’

According to McGregor, carbohydrates are the body’s ‘preferred currency for energy’. ‘The body is very efficient at converting glucose to energy,’ she says. ‘And muscles will only get bigger and stronger if there are sufficient carb stores in the system.’

So if you wish to partake in an extreme physical challenge, such as a 100-mile run, what should you eat? At least two pasta bowls’ worth of carbohydrates daily, and roughly three chicken breasts’ worth of protein, say the experts.

Renee McGregor adds: ‘Beforehand, eat something slow-releasing, such as porridge or toast with a banana and peanut butter, and then stop every couple of hours to fuel again on something similar. Trying to eat less isn’t just pointless, it’s harmful.’

Did Cracknell prove what he set out to prove? On Thursday, Bennett reported that all the participants had completed the challenge, then had a ‘nice meal’. ‘All our markers were stable throughout, and all finished with high energy and spirits,’ he added.

It’s been hinted a documentary is planned that will give full details. Dr Yeo is sceptical anything could be gained from such an experiment, saying: ‘It doesn’t prove anything. It’s an entirely pointless exercise.’

And McGregor has a stark warning for anyone considering giving it a go: ‘I wouldn’t recommend anyone tries this, especially those with type 1 diabetes. It’s too dangerous.’

In a statement, James Cracknell said that all eight participants completed the challenge, with ‘no issues whatsoever’ – and insisted it was ‘thoroughly researched’ and carried out after consultation with experts. He said: ‘The project was set up to explore the potential of fat-burning metabolism in diabetes and sport by taking it to extremes.

‘Renee McGregor is quite right, this should not be repeated by people with type 1 diabetes – it was never the point of this project to be a recommendation. No type 1 diabetics should undertake changes to their management without medical consultation. and they should never stop taking insulin as this can be fatal.’

He added: ‘The project was not reckless or stupid but a serious scientific endeavour.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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BARNEY CALMAN investigates the appalling tragedy of the elderly kept apart from their loved ones

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barney calman investigates the appalling tragedy of the elderly kept apart from their loved ones

The woman on the phone is in pieces. ‘I’ve been in lockdown in my care home since March, and they won’t release me,’ she sobs. ‘My husband lives here, too, but they won’t let me see him. He’s in another room, on a different floor. He is 100 and he has dementia. He needs me. It’s wicked. Just wicked.’

Her name is Margaret and she is almost 92 years old. She has lived through a world war. She can remember times when scarlet fever, typhoid and polio killed thousands every year.

‘But this is so much worse, because of what they’re doing to us,’ she continues.

Before the pandemic struck and residents were confined to the home, she’d visit the local gym twice a week – and even made the local news for doing so.

After we speak, I find the interview. In it, she’s quoted saying: ‘My advice to you all, whatever age you are, is to keep active. Avoid getting bored and fill your lives with things that can keep your mind and body healthy. You are never too old.’

A nurse in PPE speaks to a resident at the Wren Hall care home in Nottingham

A nurse in PPE speaks to a resident at the Wren Hall care home in Nottingham

A nurse in PPE speaks to a resident at the Wren Hall care home in Nottingham 

The Margaret I spoke to couldn’t have been more different. Crushed. Angry. Afraid.

Staying fit also helped her control the symptoms of chronic lung disease. Having been cooped up since March, her condition has now worsened considerably.

She told me: ‘They say I’m being shielded for my health but no one has asked us, and they don’t think about how what they’re doing is making us suffer.

‘I’m not scared of this virus. Not a bit. And I understand the risk. But my husband and I are in our last years and I am frightened I won’t see him again if this goes on for much longer.’

Over the past three weeks, The Mail on Sunday has reported on a new crisis engulfing Britain’s care homes: thousands of residents who have been kept in almost complete lockdown since March.

Visits are barred, or drastically limited. Families have been torn apart – blocked from seeing loved ones. Residents held captive in their rooms.

We’ve now received hundreds of emails, letters and calls like Margaret’s, each telling a similarly harrowing story.

A husband who once spent hours every evening with his wife, reduced to gazing at her through a locked glass window once a week for 15 minutes. Children, forced to watch as their once-happy parents wither and waste away, starved of any contact, comfort or love.

Parents seeing their young disabled children forcibly held down by care home staff, simply for trying to give their mum or dad a hug.

George had a visit from a loved one through a window at Digby Manor Residential Care Home, Birmingham

George had a visit from a loved one through a window at Digby Manor Residential Care Home, Birmingham

George had a visit from a loved one through a window at Digby Manor Residential Care Home, Birmingham

It goes on and on. A sea of misery. This newspaper raised the alarm earlier this month, as dementia charity John’s Campaign launched a legal bid to try to force the Department of Health and Social Care to revise guidance that it says has led to this situation.

The instructions, published by the Government in July, make limiting infections a priority above all else. But the lack of any other clear directive has led to many care homes implementing blanket bans. And these are, arguably, in breach of human rights.

Last week, the Government responded. Or rather, they emailed the John’s Campaign legal team, Leigh Day, to say they couldn’t respond yet because they were ‘extremely busy dealing with the pandemic’. But this is the pandemic.

Now the Joint Committee on Human Rights has warned that it, too, believes emergency corona legislation – passed without the scrutiny of Parliament – risks infringing human rights.

In its report, published last week, chairman Harriet Harman singled out the blanket bans on care home visits for being ‘unjustifiable’. Another word that came up a lot was ‘disproportionate’.

Having spoken to scores of families, I’m simply left wondering how, in a supposedly civilised society, is this happening at all. John’s Campaign lawyers Leigh Day say that if the Government doesn’t stop fobbing them off, and respond fully, at end of the month they will go to the High Court regardless. Because, make no mistake, this kind of treatment is also lethal.

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia already kill hundreds of people each day – but numbers have risen by a disturbing 52 per cent since these measures began. And no one should be surprised when numbers continue to climb, as the detrimental effect of sensory deprivation, seclusion and long-term solitary confinement are well known.

Government decision-making is, they say, being led by the science. But clearly they missed the decades of research in to how such torturous conditions can cause rapid mental and physical deterioration even in young, fit people.

Dementia charity John’s Campaign launched a legal bid to try to force the Department of Health and Social Care to revise guidance that it says has led to this situation

Dementia charity John’s Campaign launched a legal bid to try to force the Department of Health and Social Care to revise guidance that it says has led to this situation

Dementia charity John’s Campaign launched a legal bid to try to force the Department of Health and Social Care to revise guidance that it says has led to this situation

Interestingly, many of these studies were done in high-security prisons. And that’s just how the current care home situation is described, over and over, in the emails and letters and calls: it’s like being in prison. Worse, in fact – as there is no end in sight. How can this be allowed to go on?

The situation for those in care, if anything, has worsened over the past weeks. With Covid cases rising across the country, local lockdowns mean further tightening of rules.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has banned people from going into each other’s homes, plunging elderly people still living at home into further isolation. And this is intended to go on for six months.

Of course, those most vulnerable to corona shouldn’t be exposed unnecessarily. But many will die as a direct result of these measures.

And it will be a horrible, drawn-out and lonely death.

One that leaves only lingering guilt for those left behind, who have told us time and time again that they will never forgive themselves for not fighting harder.

Of course they feel like that. But really, there was nothing they could have done.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has often spoken about the ‘protective ring’ he promised to throw around the elderly in care. Is this really what he meant?

It’s a complex situation, without doubt. But the risk posed by a handful of consistent visitors is low, so there must be another way.

Mr Hancock, who was too busy with the pandemic to respond to the care homes crisis did, last week, seem to have time to do an interview with Sky News on the sex lives of students.

But soon, with a looming judicial review, ever more angry MPs, and as calls for a full public inquiry continue to grow, he will have nowhere to hide.

Meanwhile, Margaret lives in terror of her eye check-up at the local hospital – because, when she gets back, she will be put into the ‘solitary confinement’ of quarantine for two weeks.

Locked in her room. Alone.

‘I don’t know how much longer I can go on,’ she says. ‘I just want my life back.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Pets can get Covid… but do you really need a virus mask for your dog?

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pets can get covid but do you really need a virus mask for your dog

When the Great Plague hit London in 1665, many believed it was the end of days. But for some it was an opportunity. Doctors ‘prescribed’ lucky charms, such as dead toads, to ward off the disease if worn around the neck. ‘Plague water’, apparently made from powdered unicorn horn, fetched a high price, while victims were directed to rub dead pigeons on their sores.

Today, with a global Covid death toll of about one million, it seems that once again there are those ready to cash in, with everything from vitamin supplements to face masks for pets, all said to protect us from the pandemic.

So are they brilliant breakthroughs… or useless junk? We asked experts for their verdict on six of the most eye-catching Covid-proofing products on the market.

FACEMASKS FOR DOGS

Yudote Dogs Face Mask, £8.99

THEY SAY

Masks for dogs exploded in popularity in China at the start of the pandemic, due to fears the virus could be spread to pets. Amazon sells a host of designs, and Yudote’s version supposedly protects against ‘smog, smoke, chemicals, mould, allergies and more’.

Masks for dogs exploded in popularity in China at the start of the pandemic, due to fears the virus could be spread to pets

Masks for dogs exploded in popularity in China at the start of the pandemic, due to fears the virus could be spread to pets

Masks for dogs exploded in popularity in China at the start of the pandemic, due to fears the virus could be spread to pets

EXPERT VERDICT

Can pets even catch coronavirus? The answer, according to Dorothee Bienzle, professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, is yes. ‘Our research has shown that cats can get infected and exhibit symptoms,’ she says. But cats are more likely to get sick than dogs, which have been less likely to show symptoms in studies.

Crucially, Prof Bienzle says it is still unknown whether pets can pass Covid to their owners – but it seems unlikely.

Even so, doggy face masks are not the solution. Prof Bienzle says: ‘The risk of a dog choking on the mask is a greater risk than the small chance it would protect them from Covid.’

CANNABIS OIL TO FIX YOUR COVID ANXIETY

Love Hemp 3% CBD Oil, £19.99, pictured below

THEY SAY

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of more than 100 chemicals in the cannabis plant. It has no narcotic effect, but advocates say it has medicinal benefits, from relieving pain and anxiety to halting epileptic fits. Love Hemp boss Tony Calamita suggests customers are using such products to treat Covid-related stresses.

EXPERT VERDICT

Studies that have found psychological benefits of CBD involve medical-grade products with far higher concentrations of the substance than you’ll find on the high street, according to psychiatrist Amir Englund, from King’s College London.

A reduction in paranoid symptoms has been found in psychosis and schizophrenia patients – but only with substances made up of at least 98 per cent CBD. Love Hemp’s oil contains just three per cent. Also, there’s no good evidence that CBD oil eases anxiety or improves sleep.

Advocates of CBD say it has medicinal benefits, from relieving pain and anxiety to halting epileptic fits

Advocates of CBD say it has medicinal benefits, from relieving pain and anxiety to halting epileptic fits

Advocates of CBD say it has medicinal benefits, from relieving pain and anxiety to halting epileptic fits

AN IMMUNITY DRIP

Gallery Aesthetics Immunity IV, from £40

THEY SAY

Vitamin drips – intravenous (IV) doses of Vitamins C, D, B12 and others – have soared in popularity over the past few years, with some online companies offering treatments at your office and even in shopping malls.

Facebook advertisements for Gallery Aesthetics’ Immunity IV drip say ‘With our current health crisis, you NEED to boost your immune system’, claiming the treatments are ‘a great way to help keep your immune system strong – IV vitamins are absorbed at 100 per cent’.

EXPERT VERDICT

Vitamin drips have been widely criticised, with NHS England Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis warning that they risk ‘significant damage to health’.

Doctors say the needles risk skin infections, bruising, pain and inflammation of the vein, if not delivered by a medical professional. And Marcela Fiuza, of the British Dietetic Association, says that while there’s some evidence that doses of Vitamin C and D can help ward off infections in those who are deficient, ‘there is no evidence to suggest high doses of either will protect against coronavirus’.

SKIN PRODUCTS TO CURE MASK ACNE

Dr Jart+ Cryo Rubber So Cool Duo, £19.68

THEY SAY

Korean skincare giant Dr Jart+ say ‘wearing protective face masks can lead to breakouts’. To combat this, it has launched a range of products, including cleansers, designed to combat what it calls ‘maskne’ – acne caused by masks.

EXPERT VERDICT

Wearing a mask could increase spots in some people, says dermatologist Dr Alia Ahmed. She says that hormones, genetics and bacteria that gets on to the skin are the main factors for acne, but adds: ‘Anything that generates friction, such as a mask, could cause more dirt and sweat to collect, increasing the risk of spots.’

So will Dr Jart+’s treatment tackle this? Perhaps, says Dr Ahmed. ‘It contains hyaluronic acid, which is highly moisturising, so it’ll prevent dry and flaky dead skin cells getting trapped – which can cause spots. Their mask is also very cold. This could destroy bacteria on the skin too.’

ANTI-VIRUS DIET

The 21-Day Immunity Plan, £8.42, pictured above

THEY SAY

There’s growing evidence that being overweight puts you at greater risk of coronavirus, and this book, by cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, claims to ‘rapidly improve your metabolic health… and likely reduce the risk of severe effects from Covid-19’.

There's growing evidence that being overweight puts you at greater risk of coronavirus, and this book, by cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, claims to 'rapidly improve your metabolic health… and likely reduce the risk of severe effects from Covid-19'

There's growing evidence that being overweight puts you at greater risk of coronavirus, and this book, by cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, claims to 'rapidly improve your metabolic health… and likely reduce the risk of severe effects from Covid-19'

There’s growing evidence that being overweight puts you at greater risk of coronavirus, and this book, by cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, claims to ‘rapidly improve your metabolic health… and likely reduce the risk of severe effects from Covid-19’

EXPERT VERDICT

The book contains healthy eating advice that may bring weight loss. But dietician Alexia Dempsey says the link between weight and Covid illness isn’t clear-cut, and adds: ‘There’s no proof that changing your diet for a short period will stop you getting seriously ill or make any difference to the immune system.’

THE VIRUS-FIGHTING DOOR HANDLE

Green Facilities Purehold Pull Handle Cover, £29.99

THEY SAY

Makers say this plastic and silver cover for door handles kills 99.9 per cent of bacteria on contact. While Covid-19 is a virus, not bacteria, the firm’s website implies the product can tackle it.

EXPERT VERDICT

Dr Tina Joshi, lecturer in molecular microbiology at Plymouth University, says that silver is antibacterial but is not known to be effective against viruses. She also says the handle would get less effective over time. ‘It might also lure people into a false sense of security, making them think there’s no need to wash their hands, which would be even more risky,’ she adds.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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