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Dr Michael Mosley: My new Mediterranean 5:2 diet

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In last’s week’s LIFE, I launched a new, 12-week version of my famous 5:2 diet plan, designed to help you slim down and get healthier by the summer.I’ve created a diet that features three different options depending on whether your goal is to shape up and lose a few inches, shift a stone, or shed twice that.There’s the classic 5:2, the very fast 5:2 (in which calories are restricted to 800 daily), and finally the simple Mediterranean approach designed to supercharge your health.To help those embarking on the 5:2 diets, we’ve created some delicious 800-calorie menus: use these and you can expect to lose up to a stone by July.For everyone else (and for non-fasting days), we’ve suggested healthy additions to the low calorie recipes which, even with the additional calories, should see you looking trimmer in 12 weeks.The secret lies in the health-boosting properties of the Mediterranean diet – which has inspired every recipe included in my plan.Based on biggest nutrition study ever carried out The Mediterranean meals I champion are a far cry from the pizzas and pasta favoured by many in parts of southern Europe today.The version of the diet I am about to describe is very much traditional, and refers to the food that would have been eaten by people who lived in the Mediterranean a generation ago.It is also based on one of the biggest and most important nutrition studies ever carried out; the PREDIMED study (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea).In this 2013 study, Spanish researchers recruited over 7,400 Spanish overweight, middle-aged men and women and randomly allocated them to either a Mediterranean or a low-fat diet.Both groups were encouraged to eat lots of fresh fruit, vegetables and legumes (such as beans, lentils and peas).They were discouraged from sugary drinks, cakes, sweets or pastries and from eating too much processed meat such as bacon or salami.Crucially, only those allocated to the Mediterranean diet were asked to eat plenty of eggs, nuts and oily fish, use lots of olive oil and encouraged to eat some dark chocolate and enjoy the occasional glass of wine with their evening meal.In contrast, the low-fat diet group, were told to eat low-fat dairy products and lots of starchy foods such as bread, potatoes, pasta and rice.The researchers followed the volunteers for just under five years, getting them to fill in food diaries and keeping a check on their health via medical examinations, questionnaires and blood and urine samples.All volunteers were given an ‘M score’, according to how closely they stuck to Mediterranean diet.Within three years, dramatic differences between the two groups appeared.Not only were those who had a high M score slimmer, but they were also much healthier, slashing their risk of a multitude of diseases.The benefits were astonishing, and included: You can calculate your own ‘M’ score by following the instructions below.Other than the abundance of vitamins and antioxidants, there is another, crucial reason why this die

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