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Midlife Fitness Files: Michael Mosley on creating the 5:2 diet and reversing his diabetes

Dr Michael Mosley, TV medic and bestselling author of The 5:2 Diet and The Fast800 Diet.
Dr Michael Mosley, TV medic and bestselling author of The 5:2 Diet and The Fast800 Diet. Credit:  Andrew Crowley

Midlife Fitness Files: The Telegraph's new health series, in which we get keep fit advice from the experts as they talk us through their weekly workouts and daily diet stats

In 2012 I was 13 and a half stone had a 36-inch waist and Type 2 diabetes. I made a film called ‘Live Fast, Live Longer’ based on the idea of Intermittent Fasting (IF) and came up with the 5:2 diet concept. I tested it on myself and shed nine kilos, my waist dropped to 34 inches and my Type 2 diabetes reversed.

Now, I eat a mainly Mediterranean diet and practice Time Restricted Eating which is fasting for 14 hours and eating for ten, so Clare and I stop eating at 8pm and start again at 10am the next day. It was actually the Buddha that first said, ‘Stop eating after lunch and don’t eat again until the next morning and you will be more focused and have better self-control.’ It also helps the body switch from sugar burning as fuel to fat burning which only happens after ten hours fasting.

Workout week: active commuting with a few sprints thrown in

I didn’t start getting fit until I was 55. Now, I wake up and do 50 squats, press-ups and lunges. Then, I incorporate an active commute into my day, cycling a mile and a half to the train station on my fold-up bicycle which I take on the train, then around London between meetings (even in the rain).

A few years ago, I made a programme called The Truth About Exercise and came across a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) system where you do three lots of 20-second sprints, three times a week, which I still do, as I am cycling home. I go flat out for 20 seconds up the hills and then recover for about a minute - the idea is to get your heart rate up to about 150, then let it drop to 120, repeating that a few times.

Typical day’s eating:

Breakfast: Omelette with lentils, onions and vegetables or scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. Tea and/or a coffee with milk.

Lunch: Last night’s leftovers, such as quinoa and vegetable stew, a Greek salad or one of our Fast 800 meal replacement shakes with water (they’re high in nutrients, protein and fibre and low in sugar).

Snack: not often but when I do it’s a small handful of unsalted nuts – almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts.

Dinner: Smoked haddock with vegetables and lentils or chicken and vegetable stir fry with brown rice or a tomato-based Bolognaise sauce with a little mince, bulked up with kidney beans and lentils and served on courgetti spaghetti with something fermented such as sauerkraut or kimchi (which Clare makes herself). Baked apples or chopped pear and full-fat Greek yoghurt for pudding.

Vital statistics

Carbs: I stick to pulses such as lentils, kidney beans and lima beans for their fibre content and instead of white rice I’ll opt for brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa. I love toast but only have it occasionally, opting for dark sourdough which we keep in the freezer (if I can’t see it I’m less likely to eat it).

Avoids: cakes, crisps, processed food.

Coffee: about 2-3 cups a day but none after midday. Then I drink herbal teas in the afternoon, especially on fasting days – the hot liquids keep me full. I love fresh mint tea.

Sleep: I go to bed at about 11pm and get up about 7am but I’m a restless sleeper and am probably only asleep for seven or so of the hours I spend in bed.

Energy secret: If I need to wake myself up, I go for a brisk walk for ten minutes then do 50 press-ups – great for hangovers.

Alcohol: drinking doesn’t suit me, so I try and stick to a couple of glasses of red wine because of its polyphenol (antioxidant) content about four times a week and only with food.

Health issues: I take statins, even though my cholesterol is fine, partly because I have a family history of heart disease and partly because of the benefits not only to the heart but also to the brain. We know that statins may work not so much by reducing cholesterol but by reducing inflammation and dementia and Alzheimer's are not only down to inadequate blood supply to the brain but also to inflammation. In January, I ruptured my Achilles tendon on my left leg and more recently did my hamstrings on my right leg - both times whilst doing running sprints.

If you only do one thing: be honest about your waist size. Ideally, your waist measurement (this is measured around the belly-button) should be half your height. Waist size is the best predictor we have of your risk of metabolic disease (high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar).

Dr Mosley’s fast800 online programme is focused on losing gut fat – it costs £99 for a 12 week plan.