Published On: Mon, Mar 28th, 2016


Yes, it sounds too good to be true. But here a top doctor reveals a weight-loss regime that’s blissfully simple – and effective

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Low carb, low calorie, low fat… every inveterate dieter has their favorite, and most diets work for a while. But the bitter truth is weight loss rarely lasts.
My work as a specialist in late-stage kidney disease means I am at the sharp end of our out-of-control obesity epidemic. People get fat, they get diabetes, their kidneys fail and they come to me.
After 20 years of worrying about the cause (usually obesity) rather than the symptoms (kidney failure), I am now convinced that the weight-loss industry and everyone involved in it could be missing a trick.

The problem is, just like heart disease or even many cancers, obesity is a deadly disease with many different contributing causes. So just as heart disease has multiple triggers (diet, lifestyle, stress, genetics), your bulging waistline could equally be caused by any number of different factors: sneaky snacking, poor genetics, stress, night shifts, food addiction, sugary drinks, too much booze or imbalanced gut bacteria for instance.
Cutting back on portion sizes, glugging green juices, or banning bread or alcohol can hit only one factor at a time and that’s what inevitably leaves dieters doomed to an endless cycle of failure and blame.

If you’re overweight there’s every chance you’ve got insulin resistance and your insulin levels are stuck on a fat-storing high, no matter how much kale you eat.

The only way to break this insulin-resistance cycle is to allow your insulin levels to drop very low – and the snatched six hours of sleep you got between last night’s kebab and this morning’s bowl of Cheerios isn’t going to cut it.
Properly lowering your insulin levels and re-setting your hormone balance means completely abstaining from food. I know it sounds scary, but fasting is, in my opinion, the most important missing piece in the weight loss puzzle.
The trouble is, many of the best-known fasting regimes can sound rather intimidating – involving dramatically reducing your food intake for days on end, week in and week out. This can lead to significant weight loss. But as I’ll show, you don’t have to do it like that if you don’t want to.
Fasting can mean as little as skipping a bedtime snack, or breakfast. You can even do it in your sleep! Read on to find out more.


In recent decades a dangerous snacking culture has emerged, fuelled by advertising which encourages us to graze through the day. This means a constant drip-feed topping-up of our ever-high insulin levels. Your grandmother was right – snacking will make you fat.
So if you ban snacks you are benefiting from a micro fast.


We have been repeatedly told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and feel compelled to eat it whether we are hungry or not.  The problem is that the easiest grab-and-go option is very often a conveniently pre-packaged, heavily processed and heavily sugared food. If you want to lose weight, stop eating sugary breakfast cereal and steer away from bakery items, too.
If you wake up hungry and you want breakfast choose eggs, or plain natural or Greek yoghurt (full fat).  If you like porridge, opt for whole or steel cut oats (sometimes called ‘pinhead’ oats) which take longer to cook because they contain significant amounts of fibre that requires heat and time to break down.
Avoid anything instant as it will inevitably be heavily processed – which means it will be high in sugar and have no nutritional value.
If you’re not hungry – skip breakfast. You may find it easier to fast than you think.

At my clinics I encourage my patients to fast for days, even weeks with dramatic results. Longer fasting periods produce lower insulin levels and greater weight loss.
But if you’re not hugely overweight things don’t have to be quite so draconian. All you need to do is skip a few meals.
Start off by aiming for a good old-fashioned 12-hour fast. It’s easy. Just eat nothing after your evening meal at 7pm or 8pm (no peanuts, no ice cream, no fruit or milky drink) until your healthy breakfast at 7am or 8am the next day. That’s what everybody used to do in the Sixties before bedtime snacks were invented.
Once that becomes a habit, try boosting the benefit by occasionally extending your ‘fast’ to 16 hours: skip breakfast, enjoy lunch, then just stop eating after dinner at 7pm or 8pm and ‘fast’ right through until breakfast the next morning.
Add in a 24 hour-fast once or twice a week if you really want to see dramatic results.
While an overnight fast can work wonders, you can undo all that good work if you have a stressful day. Insulin levels are deeply vulnerable to the stress hormone cortisol, so all your healthy eating could count for nothing if you live a life of permanent bubbling stress.
This is because cortisol tells the body to flood the blood with sugar, which – unless you are very active – your insulin levels will rise to compensate.

Marital disputes, problems at work, arguments with the children and sleep deprivation are all serious stress triggers which increase cortisol, increase insulin and lead to weight gain.

Reducing stress is difficult, but vitally important, and ‘relaxing’ in front of the TV or flicking through Facebook doesn’t cut it. Try meditation, yoga, massage therapy and gentle exercise instead.
When it comes to sleep, studies show anything less than seven hours a night can cause your stress levels to rise to the point where weight gain starts and just five to six hours a night is associated with a more than 50 pc increased risk of weight gain. Good sleep and stress reduction are equally important factors in your multi-factorial diet plan.

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