The Fast Beach Diet
PUBLISHED: 17:12 23 July 2014 | UPDATED: 17:12 23 July 2014
Mimi Spencer tells us about her new diet book and gives us a sneak peek inside
Dieter Mimi Spencer knows first-hand how well the Fast Diet works.
Once upon a time she was petrified of being seen in a bikini - “if you’d given me the choice between wearing a bikini and yodeling through the city centre with my hen tucked into my knickers, I would have probably gones for the yodeling/knickers option” - but thanks to Michael Mosley’s discovery of the 5:2 diet, she waved goodbye to the pounds - 22 of them in just six months - and hello to a bikini body.
The foundation of the 5:2 diet is that you’re only dieting occasionally. You get to eat cake, drink wine and have the occasional blow-out meal; most of the time you’re not dieting at all.
Now, as summer approaches and the bikinis of this world start to demand attention from the back of the drawer, plenty of people have asked for a souped-up version of the 5:2. They asked for something to kickstart the process, something a bit tougher, with quicker results. That’s how The Fast Beach Diet came about.
Think of it as 5:2 with wheels… The Fast Diet, just faster. The key is to step up on Fast Days, in dozens of small, incremental ways.
The new book encourages you to think about non-Fast Days too, applying simple techniques to help you eat with mindfulness and attention on any day. And it introduces a simple, effective exercise plan (based on Michael’s Fast Exercise book) to help get you from sofa to poolside in a committed, six-week leap.
In that time, with a bit of willpower and motivation (there are tips in the book on how to access exactly that), you could reasonably expect to lose 12 pounds. That’s about the weight of 14 tins of beans.
The idea of the Fast Beach Diet is to stick to its enhanced plan for just six weeks. As one devotee tweeted the other day, ‘A year from now, you will wish you started today.’ Six weeks from now, I reckon you’ll understand why.
So what’s new?
You need to toughen up on Fast Days, tighten up on non-Fast Days and add an element of exercise.
Toughen up on Fast Days:
The original 5:2 Fast Diet suggests slashing calories to a quarter of your usual daily intake, twice a week, on non-consecutive days. One clear way to accelerate the process is to add a third Fast Day each week for six weeks. In practice, this amounts to Alternate Day Fasting, and is the Intermittent Fasting method that has been most extensively investigated by researchers. Always ensure that you are meeting your nutritional needs over the course of a week – so, plenty of plants, adequate protein, occasional dairy, some ‘good fats’.
Tighten up on non-Fast Days:
For a short, contained period, it’s time to really eat well every day. Cut out alcohol, avoid refined carbs, cut back on treats and move towards a Mediterranean diet. Also make sure you fill your plate with veg at the expense of meat and carbs - 3:1 ratio would be ideal. Do it every day for six weeks.
Just add exercise:
It won’t surprise you to learn that introducing exercise into the Fast Diet equation is likely to be hugely beneficial. In conjunction with Intermittent Fasting, exercise can help you lose weight (fat, in particular), and it will certainly improve your general fitness, strength and health – which, never forget, is the overarching goal.
The best exercise is the one you enjoy: it’s the one you’ll do.
If you are in reasonable health, short fasts (with 500 or 600 calories) should be fine. If you are on medication of any description, please see your doctor first.
There are certain groups for whom fasting is not advised: Type 1 diabetics, anyone suffering from an eating disorder, children and pregnant women. Similarly, if you have an underlying medical condition, visit your GP, as you would before embarking on any weight-loss regime.
If you are unfit, ease yourself into HIT and if you have any doubts about your health, have a medical check up before starting any form of exercise.
The Fast Beach Diary: Mimi’s week at a glance
So, you’ve got the hang of 5:2, but what happens on a day-to-day basis on the Fast Beach Diet? Here’s a typical ‘week in the life’ for Mimi (your schedule will, of course, differ, but notice how she has shifted the week to take in as much exercise and as many ‘good’ habits as possible):
SUNDAY - Non-Fast Day
Morning: toast and honey (one slice of wholemeal bread), peppermint tea, half a mango with lime
Afternoon: Sunday lunch with the family at the pub (Mimi orders a child’s portion of roast beef and doesn’t have pudding), followed by long walk with the dog on the Downs
Evening: Veggie soup from the freezer. Once the kids are in bed, before of watching TV, Mimi does a session on the exercise bike
MONDAY - Fast Day 1
Morning: porridge and berries for breakfast, black coffee; half-an-hour of stretching and strength exercises
Afternoon: An apple, black coffee, peppermint tea
Evening: huge pile of salad – lots of different leaves and seeds - with a grilled chicken breast
Total calories: 500
TUESDAY - Non-Fast Day
Morning: scrambled eggs and a wholemeal tortilla for breakfast. Mimi takes the dog for a brisk walk along the beach, walking fast enough to be slightly out of breath
Afternoon: out for lunch with friends. Mimi walks rather than drives, just for a change (no parking fee!). She orders baked cod with cherry tomatoes and lentils, no bread, no pudding. Fizzy water with lime
Evening: Pilates class 6pm. Family supper of spaghetti bolognaise. Mimi has a small portion, and fills ¾ of her plate with veg – broccoli, sugar snaps and peas. Natural yoghurt with a swirl of honey
WEDNESDAY - Non-Fast Day
Morning: porridge for breakfast, black coffee, water
Afternoon: a sachet of miso soup and an apple, plus plenty of sparkling water
Evening: small portion of cauliflower cheese. Melon and some blueberries. A 15 minute run followed by 30 minutes of yoga
THURSDAY - Fast Day 2
Morning: no breakfast, but plenty of water and camomile tea
Afternoon: no lunch
Evening: sashimi and edamame from Yo! Sushi. Stretching and strength exercises (star jumps, push ups and plank), half-an-hour of yoga, then early to bed
Total calories: 500
FRIDAY - Non-Fast Day
Morning: small fruit salad from M&S and an instant porridge pot
Afternoon: no lunch, plenty of sparkling water. Mimi walks between meetings and takes the stairs rather than escalators and elevators. A green juice on the way home from work
Evening: takeaway curry with the family. Mimi shares her husband’s chicken tikka and has half a portion of rice (plain, not pilau), plus tarka dahl (lentils). No naan
SATURDAY - Non-Fast Day
Morning: quick session on the exercise bike before breakfast to see what ‘fasted training’ feels like. Poached eggs for breakfast, followed by yoghurt and chopped pear
Afternoon: dog walk on the Downs. Lunch with the kids – Mimi has a soup from Pret rather than a sandwich and peppermint tea
Evening: grilled salmon with green beans
You’ll notice that there’s no alcohol and not many snacks on Mimi’s list. Remember, this plan is only six weeks long. With a little prep and a clear plan, you can do it.
The Fast Beach Diet, by Mimi Spencer with a foreword by Dr Michael Mosley, is published by Short Books, £7.99
The Fast Diet Beach app is free and available now on Apple iTunes