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Introducing Fast Exercise

Michael doing the plank.

Hi all,

Thought you might like to know that we have created a sister website,, which you might find helpful and interesting. If you want to lose weight and improve your health then the evidence is clear that the best way to do this is through calorie restriction (whatever way works for you) and increased activity.

We are trying to close the gap between what the scientists who study exercise know and what most of us believe. I’ve spent a couple of years looking into the latest science of exercise and it has been a real revelation.

Fast Exercises are a mix of scientifically tested ways to get the maximum improvements in the minimum time. The ideas behind this approach are in many ways just as radical and surprising as those behind the Fast Diet. Rather than going for slow and steady the emphasis is on short but intense activity. It is called HIT, High Intensity Training, and it is an approach that can be incorporated into an existing exercise regime or be used by people who never seem to find the time to exercise.

Peta, who loves exercise, builds HIT into her runs. I don’t enjoy exercise and find it a struggle, so I’ve found ways to build it into my daily life. I almost never get into trainers or shorts but have found ways to get fit none-the-less.

This approach is for people who older and less fit, not just for the young and superfit.

You can start at almost any age and improve the quality of life.

There are dangers in starting any new exercise regime, so the exercises we recommend have been carefully graded to reduce the risk of injury or strain. As ever, I look forward to your thought and reactions –

All the best,


“The easy, no-gym fitness plan from the doctor behind the Fast Diet… Short exercise bursts get the most from a workout in the least possible time and dramatic changes can be achieved… If your body seems to be unresponsive to exercise, or your life is too busy for long workouts, Fast Exercise is for you” –The Times

“Informative, easy to understand… offers not only good health but a host of spillover benefits besides… Fast Exercise is the way of the future.” –Professor Stuart M. Phillips Ph.D., FACSM, FACN Department of Kinesiology, Exercise Metabolism Research Group McMaster University, CANADA and Visiting Professor, School of Exercise, Sport Science, and Health Loughborough University, UK

“Fast Exercise is a great practical introduction into the field of high intensity exercise. The personal perspective matched with references to the both old and new scientific literature provides compelling reading.” –Carl Johan Sundberg MD, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Physiology & Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

“A health revolution” –The New York Times

Archive for the ‘Michael and Mimi’ Category:

Introducing Fast Exercise

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas though, sadly, there is always a price to pay for that enjoyable overindulgence. If you are anything like me you probably ate too much, stepped on the scales on New Year’s day, and sighed.

The average Brit puts on 2kgs (nearly 5 lbs) during December and I certainly put on almost that much over the month. I, however, have an unusual excuse. I’m making another self experimenting Horizon documentary, but this time I have had to gorge myself on meat for a month to see what effect that has on my microbiota (the bacteria in my gut).

That particular experiment has just finished so I’m back on 5:2 on Monday and expect to shed those extra pounds some time in January. I’m looking forward to my fast days as I actually miss the occasional hunger pangs and the mental sharpness that comes with it.

I’m glad to say enthusiasm for intermittent fasting shows no sign of waning. As an article in today’s Times put it,

“It’s the diet that launched the publishing phenomenon of 2013 and saw fortysomething men talking calories with the authority usually reserved for World Cup qualifiers..  A year ago it was a fad amongst fashionable West London mums wanting to lose a bit of baby weight. Now it’s revolutionised the diet industry”.

Our book, “The Fast Diet”, having topped the best seller list for much of 2013, shot right back up the charts to number one on New Year’s day. There are a whole slew of new or updated books connected to intermittent fasting coming out in the next few days. Along with the usual copy cat books there are a couple written by the scientists who inspired my interest in intermittent fasting and which I wrote about extensively in “The Fast Diet”.

Out soon is an updated version of “The Two Day Diet” by Dr Michelle Harvie and Professor Tony Howell, which first came out last February. This book advocates eating a Mediterranean diet 5 days a week and cutting out the carbs two days a week (the recipes add up to effectively 1000 calories a day on the carbs-free days).

Their studies show that on this diet you will lose an average of about 0.5kg (1 lb) a week, most of it fat. Their volunteers, women at increased risk of breast cancer, also saw improvements in their insulin levels (which is important for reducing cancer risk). They are planning further large scale trials, involving men.

A new book, out next week, is “The Every Other Day Diet” by Dr Krista Varady.  If you have read “The Fast Diet” or seen my Horizon documentary, “Eat, Fast, Live Longer”, then you will already know something about Krista and her work.  I have also written about it on this site under ADF (alternate day fasting).

The basic principle of this diet is you cut your calories to around 500 calories every other day (480 for women, 520 for men). Krista recommends that you eat 400 calories as a single meal (lunch or dinner) and 100 calories as a snack.

On what she calls “Feast Days” you are allowed to eat whatever you want. Her research suggests that on average people tend to eat only about 10% more than normal, perhaps because of a shrinking stomach. The rate at which you will lose fat depends on how fat you were to begin with and how much you eat on your Feast Days.

According to Krista’s latest paper , “Alternate day fasting for weight loss in normal weight and overweight subjects: a randomized controlled trial.” ( if you are not obese to start with then you can expect to lose about 5kgs over 12 weeks, which works out about 1 lb a week, as well as improvements in your bloods.  Krista recommends weighing yourself every day, skipping breakfast and avoiding eating mini meals (mainly because people have a tendency to underestimate how much they eat).

So which of these approaches is the best one? 

I think the best approach is the one that suits you and which you find you can stick to. We all respond differently to different diets, which is why we called our book “The Fast Diet”, rather than the 5:2 diet. I developed the 5:2 approach because it suited me, but I recognise it won’t suit everyone. Some will prefer the more disciplined “Two Day Diet” approach, others will prefer the more obviously “feast and famine” approach of ADF (alternate day fasting). Yet another approach, which I know some people here have tried, is a 4:3 approach. I would be very interested to hear the experiences of those who have tried either or both.

Fast Exercise

As well as making a range of documentaries in 2013, I was busy researching and writing a book on exercise, which I’ve rather imaginatively call, “Fast Exercise”. Like the Fast Diet it is a radically different approach to the standard advice and like the Fast Diet, it is the product of cutting edge science. I hope you will find the science behind it as fascinating as I do.

The main idea behind Fast Exercise is that instead of trying to shed weight and get healthier by plodding away on a treadmill or jogging in the rain for hours every week, you can get many of the more important benefits of exercise from a few minutes a day of intense activity.

Although the exercises we demonstrate in the book are intense, they are not prolonged. This is not like “Tabata” or “Insanity”, exercise regimes designed for people who are already very fit.

The exercises we recommend will enhance existing exercise regimes, but they have been primarily developed to ensure they are safe and suitable for people who are older (50 plus), overweight and with conditions like diabetes.

I’ve written the book with Peta Bee, an award winning health and sports journalist, and with the help of Professor Jamie Timmons, who featured in a Horizon I made in 2012 called, “The Truth about Exercise”. If you want to know more then do buy the book or visit

The versions of HIT (high intensity training) that we recommend in Fast Exercise have been shown to improve your aerobic fitness (the strength of your heart and lungs) and your metabolic fitness (how your body responds to a sugar rush) more effectively and in much less time that standard exercise.

If you want to lose weight, improve your health and get better toned (who doesn’t) then intensity is the key.

Archive for the ‘Michael and Mimi’ Category:

Introducing Fast Exercise

Michael and Mimi are loving this. Too lazy to read the book? Here’s The Fast Guide to the Fast Diet by Kevin Partner. (We think you should still buy the book though. At least the recipe book.)

Archive for the ‘Michael and Mimi’ Category:

Introducing Fast Exercise

One of the reasons The Fast Diet seems to have become so popular is that it is incredibly easy to thread into a life. The psychology of intermittent fasting is its USP: no two days are the same. There’s no drudge of daily dieting. It is a part-time commitment for a full-blown result.
It seems to me that the 5:2 method is so appealing that it could easily be applied to other areas of life. There’s something really pleasing about the ratio. It feels like just enough, but never too much. 5:2 feels feasible, a comfortable compromise that gets results. By the time the next Fast Day rolls around, you’re ready for more. So how about going beyond diet? A 5:2 regime for other things, other activities beyond mealtimes: two days a week, we could ditch the car. Or play squash. Two days a week, we could switch off the TV, or eat as a family, or practice yoga, or walk to work. We could steer clear or meat, or stop drinking wine. For two days a week, anything is possible, right?

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Introducing Fast Exercise

The Bookseller reports that The Fast Diet has now spent its 19th consecutive week at number one in the UK Paperback Non-fiction chart – ‘the first title to enjoy such extraordinary longevity since Dr Atkins’ New Diet Revolution 10 years ago.’ Michael and I are overjoyed at the success of the diet, and how so many people are gaining real benefit from it – losing weight, finding fitness, discovering a new way of eating that is low-key, sustainable and (can it be true?) fun. Even JLo has been on the 5:2. You’re certainly in good company.

I was travelling recently in Morocco, and even there, the diet seems to be causing a buzz. People are talking about it, sharing stories, proud of their achievements, swapping tips, sharing plans. In the coming months, the book will be published in more than 20 new territories – it’s already out in the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania and Korea – so welkom, benvenuto, powitanie, dobrodošli, добре дошъл, bun venit and hwan-yeong to you all (with apologies for poor spelling!) Please join in the conversation and let us know your stories from around the world.

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Introducing Fast Exercise

At last, a few rays of sun arrive – and with them the first Fast Diet spring. When Michael and I started work on The Fast Diet back in October, the weather in the UK was already cold and gloomy, which, even with the best will in  the world, made eating on a Fast Day something of a challenge. British food in winter tends to rely on filling meals, on pies and stews and dumplings and potatoes – all delicious, but hardly ticking any boxes for Fast Days. But that’s all changing with the season: warmer weather means that eating and cooking plenty of protein and plants – the good old Fast Day mantra – is suddenly so much easier.

Order the book now.

Next week sees the arrival of the Fast Diet Recipe Book – it’s already being dispatched by Amazon, so some of you will have got your copies. As you’ll see, each recipe is carefully calorie counted and nutritionally balanced – thanks to our resident nutritionist Dr Sarah Schenker. There are tons of great low-calorie recipes for winter evenings, but you’ll also find lots of the ideas that are perfect for summer nights: plenty of fish, tasty salads, lots of light veggie dishes which are easy to prepare and delicious to eat, ideal for a Fast Day, but just as good on any day of the week. The American edition of the cook book comes out in a couple of months, and all of the recipes will have been translated into US measurements. We hope you enjoy it and that it helps make all your Fast Days a breeze.



Archive for the ‘Michael and Mimi’ Category:

Introducing Fast Exercise


Easter has come and gone and with it rather more Easter eggs than I had intended. I start off each year thinking that I will eat just a small amount and every year I end up wolfing down far more than is healthy. Why do we have this tradition of chocolate eggs at Easter? Apparently one reason is symbolic. The hard shell of the egg symbolize the sealed tomb which encased Christ; cracking the egg is like cracking the tomb, a celebration of the Resurrection.

Unfortunately, while eating real eggs is pretty healthy, as they are packed full of vitamins and high quality protein, the same is not true of chocolate ones. I would probably feel better about myself if I had eaten eggs made from dark chocolate, since there are some health benefits to eating the dark stuff (including a slight lowering of blood pressure), but the truth is most of what I ate was milk chocolate. Fat and sugar. Sigh. Ah well, tomorrow is a fast day…

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Introducing Fast Exercise

So, Easter is on its way, with its glorious high-calorie promise of holiday bingeing and general excess. I must confess that I have never really been one for Lent; as with dieting, giving up something entirely – especially chocolate – is not my style. Over the course of my 20-year career, I have in fact been emphatically anti-diets, so it may seem odd that I have now written a book devoted to one. It’s no U-turn; The Fast Diet, co-written with Dr Michael Mosley, works so brilliantly because you don’t have to give anything up at all. You eat absolutely normally for five days a week and only restrict calories (to a quarter of your usual intake) on two days. So come Easter Sunday, I’ll be eating the kids’ chocolate eggs, just as I do every year. And on Easter Monday (or even Tuesday, if I fancy a little bank holiday indulgence) I will return, guilt free, to my bi-weekly 500-calorie fast.

It is times like Easter that illustrate why the Fast Diet has been so well received. In just two months, we have garnered a huge following and it is the diet’s flexibility that seems to be the key to its success: most of the time, there are no awkward dinner-party clichés (‘just salad, dressing on the side – I’m on a diet’), no need to be the dull colleague passing on post-work drinks, no need to count or fret. The diet works because you know that tomorrow you can have that glass of chardonnay/roast dinner/chocolate muffin. If you have ever struggled with the strictures of conventional, every-day dieting, it’s a liberating thought.

The book has now reached number 1 bestselling status on both sides of the Atlantic, which is hugely exciting for Michael and me. While the science is still young, the research is mounting and the results impressive. Some of the most common questions we get are about what to eat on the Fast Days; for this reason we are publishing a comprehensive Fast Diet Recipe Book on May 2, including plenty of information about how the method works, together with more than 180 meal ideas, rich in protein and complex carbs, so you won’t find yourself flagging on a Fast Day. This Lent, I reckon we can all have our cake and eat it.

You can read Mimi’s blog on Huffington Post today

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Introducing Fast Exercise

Well, Good Morning America! The Fast Diet is now on sale in the States, and – incredibly – has immediately shot to number 2 in the Amazon book charts. We’ve been waiting a while to get the Intermittent Fasting message to a wider, international audience – and this marks the beginning of that project. Michael has been on ABC’s Good Morning America today (among other things, he served up some of the recipes from our new cookbook), and The New York Times is set to run a comprehensive feature on the Fast Diet this coming Sunday.

So, a warm welcome to you all. We hope you like what you see, and that your experiences will mirror the success stories we’ve been hearing here since the New Year. We’re fascinated to learn how the Fast Diet format will translate to other territories, and hope that a new American audience will discover the simplicity and benefits of the 5:2 method, as so many of us in the UK have done. Please let us know how your fasting days go – keep us in the loop.

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Introducing Fast Exercise

Busy times at Fast Diet Towers. We are delighted that this website is proving so popular, and that many of you are sharing your inspirational stories with the growing army of Fast Diet fans out there. We try to answer directly as often as possible – please forgive us if we can’t, we read them all and we are delighted that several key voices are emerging to hold hands, share their ups-and-downs and inspire the rest of us. Thank you.

Meanwhile, the Fast Diet book goes from strength to strength – it has been the UK’s bestseller for three consecutive weeks now. Overwhelming. But the book could only ever be the beginning of our understanding of the benefits that Intermittent Fasting can bring. The start of a conversation. As we’ve often said, the science is in its infancy and we are learning all the time. Some answers are not definitive. Some questions remain. We really want to hear your experiences to help us understand more about this radical, refreshing and healthy approach to diet. For us and for many, it has become much more than a ‘diet’ – it is a way of life, really – and sharing our experiences, good, bad or indifferent, will certainly lead to new ideas, new avenues, new thinking. We hope you will accompany us on that fascinating journey.

And so, onwards… The Fast Diet Recipe Book is due out in early May (it is available for preorder here). I have been working closely with dietician Dr Sarah Schenker, a nutritionist with both Spurs and Chelsea football clubs (and Norwich City too, just to prove she is non-partisan). The cookbook will, of course, be stacked with tons of great, tasty recipes (more than 190 of them at the last count), but there will also be a glut of nutritional advice for anyone who really wants to get to grips with what best to eat on a Fast Day when calories are scarce. Some dishes will be simplicity itself – we certainly understand that not everyone wants to be in the kitchen when fasting – while others are designed to appeal to home chefs who want to bring a bit of low-cal flair to their Fast Days. Plenty of dishes can be made ahead of time and frozen; others are quick, fresh and full of goodness. And, yes, there will be plenty of warming, filling meals too (not just leaves!). We hope you’ll enjoy them all.


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Introducing Fast Exercise

Like Mimi and many others I spent the run up to Christmas and then into the New Year feasting, rather than fasting. It is so strange; I know that I shouldn’t and that I will feel bad afterwards, but I still couldn’t resist eating far too much chocolate, cake and mince pies. It is because it is there, right in front of me, all the time.

Normally I try to ban such things from our house as I have a sweet tooth and know that when I am feeling peckish they will be hard to resist. As Oscar Wilde once famously put it, “I can resist anything but temptation”.

There’s a book I’m reading at the moment called The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt that helps explain why we sabotage our own best interests.  As he points out, we can probably muster the willpower to resist ordering a dessert but not the willpower to resist it if one is put in front of us.

Or, as the poet Ovid wrote “Desire and feeling pull in different directions. I feel the right way and approve it, but I follow the wrong”.

We are like riders on the back of an elephant. We hold the reins and think we are in control; we can steer the elephant as long as the elephant has no desires of its own. But in the end the elephant does what the elephant wants to do and we are left helplessly raging at our own apparent weakness.

But is it really weak will or is it mainly about context and opportunity?  I have a lot more to say about unconscious impulses, but that will have to wait for another day.

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Introducing Fast Exercise

‘No fasting for me during the last fortnight. My house, like the rest of the nation’s homes, has been groaning with food – and I defy anyone to saunter past a plate of mince pies without sneaking one in. Ditto sausage rolls. Quality Street. Ferrero Rocher. I also had my annual tussle between brandy butter and cream on the Christmas pud, and settled (as is traditional) for both. But, new year, new me, and I’m back on the programme and fasting today.

It actually comes as a relief. I was beginning to feel stodgy, like a walking, talking Christmas pud myself, and I missed the loose, lean feeling that intermittent fasting brings. There’s a pleasant sensation of control and clarity that comes with fasting, the very opposite of the post-holiday slump that usually descends at this time of year, when you can barely be bothered to reach for the remote.

Today, then, it’s my usual fasting breakfast of muesli (Alpen No Sugar) with unblanched almonds, hazelnuts, dried cranberries (festive) and pomegranate seeds (fashionable). To be honest, I have taken to slinging pomegranate seeds on anything that doesn’t actually move, à la Ottolenghi, Nigella, Nigel Slater, Lorraine Pascal, all of those TV cooks. In 12 hours or so, I’ll have a generous watercress salad with crumbled feta, balsamic and probably more pomegranate seeds. Shame not to. So pretty.

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Introducing Fast Exercise

A poem on the joys of fasting by Jelaluddin Rumi, who was born in what is now Afghanistan in 1207.


There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less. If the soundbox
is stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and belly are burning clean
with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
The fog clears, and new energy makes you
run up the steps in front of you.

When you fast, good habits gather like friends who want to help.
Fasting is Solomon’s ring. Don’t give it
to some illusion and lose your power,
but even if you have, if you’ve lost all will and control,
they come back when you fast, like soldiers appearing
out of the ground, pennants flying above them.
A table descends to your tents, spread with other food,
better than the broth of cabbages.