Despite everything we now know about eating healthily, it is alarming to see obesity levels in the UK continuing to rise.
Although many of us are clearly eating too much of the wrong food, I don’t believe it is simply because we are greedy or weak willed. New research suggests that current obesity rates are, at least in part, being driven by lack of one key macronutrient: high quality protein.
That’s why, on my three-stage weight-loss plan, you can snack on salami crisps or halloumi fries and indulge in the occasional dish of protein-rich chocolate mousse or mini cheesecake without jeopardising your weight-loss success.
Protein is essential for the building of muscles, hormones and much of the infrastructure of our bodies. Every cell in our body contains protein and eating enough of it is absolutely vital for growth and repair. Good sources of high-quality protein include eggs, fish, meat, beans, legumes and tofu.
Although many of us are clearly eating too much of the wrong food, I don’t believe it is simply because we are greedy or weak willed. Pictured: Dr Michael Mosley and wife Dr Clare Bailey
Recent research from Australia has shown that we have a specific appetite for protein and when the protein content of the food we eat is too low, we are compelled to go on eating until we have satisfied that protein need.
Which helps explain why it’s so easy for some of us to polish off a big bag of crisps or a packet of biscuits in one sitting!
That’s why we have made protein a key part of each stage of my new Fast 800 keto diet plan. On the first rapid weight-loss stage of the diet, where you stick within an 800 to 900 daily calorie limit, you should aim to eat at least 50g of protein a day.
On the intermittent fasting (stage two), when you don’t need to count calories on non-fast days, 60g to 80g of protein a day is advised and closer to 100g for the elderly, as we tend to absorb less protein as we get older.
And on the ‘way of life’ maintenance plan, you can achieve optimal health and prevent weight gain by eating at least 1g of protein per kg of body weight (so, if you weigh 80kg, that’s 80g of protein a day).
All the recipes which have been created for the plan by my wife, Dr Clare Bailey (follow her on Instagram for recipe videos and tips at #drclarebailey), have been carefully calibrated to ensure just enough good quality protein in every meal.
On my three-stage weight-loss plan , you can snack on salami crisps or halloumi fries and indulge in the occasional dish of protein-rich chocolate mousse
On fast days (and throughout the rapid weight-loss stage), you can choose to eat three meals or two. And as long as you stay within the daily calorie limits, you can indulge in a selection of tempting low-carb, high-protein snacks and treats such as the ones here, safe in the knowledge you are topping up on fat-burning fuel.
MEDICAL NOTE: Rapid weight loss does not suit everyone. If you are frail, have a significant underlying medical condition, are on insulin, have type 2 diabetes and are on medication, are on blood pressure medication, have moderate or severe retinopathy, or have epilepsy or gallstones, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, please talk to your doctor before going on this diet. It is not suitable for teenagers, people with a history of an eating disorder, have a psychiatric illness, are unwell, underweight or doing endurance exercise.
1 tbsp grated cheese (2.5g protein 41 cals)
30g chunk of Cheddar (7.5g protein, 124 cals)
50g feta (7.5g protein, 124 cals)
1 boiled egg (7g protein, 78 cals)
30g halloumi, fried in a little olive oil (6g protein, 130 cals)
75g thawed, frozen prawns (11.5g protein, 52 cals)
Half a tin of tuna (45g) in oil (11.5g protein, 72 cals)
50g (2 slices) smoked salmon (11.5g protein, 92 cals)
120g rasher of back bacon (5g protein, 61 cals)
2 slices turkey breast (17g protein, 76 cals)
4 slices salami or chorizo (4g protein, 88 cals)
Handful (10g) nuts (2g protein, 71 cals)
2 tbsp mixed seeds (5.4g protein, 122 cals)
100g tofu (12.5g protein, 123 cals)
2 tbsp hummus (5.4g protein, 160 cals)
HOW TO STAY ON TRACK
1) Throw or give away all ultra-processed foods (breakfast cereals, crisps, fizzy drinks) and sugary snacks (cakes, biscuits, sweets).
2) Stock up on healthy protein (fish, eggs, tofu, meat), leafy green vegetables and salad.
3) Aim to be more active.
4) Prioritise sleep — poor sleep makes cravings more likely
5) Plan meals in advance, cook up double batches and freeze in single portions so a healthy, nutritious meal can ready quickly.
6) Weigh yourself regularly and keep track of your shrinking waist measurements and blood pressure — it’s fantastic motivation.
Banana and pistachio pancakes
These exotic-looking mini pancakes have a Middle Eastern feel, thanks to the green pistachio nuts and brightly coloured raspberry pieces.
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Although many of us are clearly eating too much of the wrong food , I don’t believe it is simply because we are greedy or weak willed
Per serving: Protein 3.3g, Carbs 5.3g
- 2 medium bananas, peeled
- 50g ground almonds
- 2 medium free-range eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 50g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- Small knob of butter or 1 tsp oil
- 1 tbsp freeze-dried raspberries
Mash the bananas in a medium bowl. Add the ground almonds, egg, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt and whisk together.
Stir in half of the pistachios — add a little water, if the mixture is dry rather than gloopy.
Place the butter or oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, pour in the mixture a tablespoon at a time and cook 3 or 4 pancakes together for 1-2 minutes, until golden, being careful not to burn them. They are ready to turn when small bubbles are visible on the surface.
Scatter with some of the remaining pistachios and dried raspberries, then flip with a spatula and cook for another minute or more. Set aside and repeat with the remaining butter/oil. Pile the pancakes on to a plate and serve with crème fraÎche (1 tablespoon is 45 cals), fresh raspberries or both.
Flourless ham muffins
These muffins are a great example of the keto 50:50 rule, which aims to keep carbs below 50g and protein above 50g over the day.
Here, there are only 0.8g carbs versus 10.9g protein, and yet each muffin only amounts to 151 cals. One or two are ideal for a portable and filling meal.
On the first rapid weight-loss stage of the diet, where you stick within an 800 to 900 daily calorie limit, you should aim to eat at least 50g of protein a day. Pictured: Flourless ham muffins
Per serving: 0.8g carbs, 10.9g protein
- 55g full-fat cream cheese
- 4 medium free-range eggs
- 30g ground almonds
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- 50g gruyere or Cheddar, grated
- 50g ham, roughly chopped
- 1 block frozen spinach (about 50g), defrosted and excess liquid squeezed out
Preheat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6 and line a muffin tray with 6 muffin cases. Place the cream cheese, eggs, ground almonds and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.
Stir in the remaining ingredients and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour into the paper cases in the muffin tin and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
Serve warm, or leave to cool first on a wire rack.
If you are missing bread, this offers an ideal keto solution. Light and soft, it is great for small sandwiches, or to replace burger buns.
You could also use it as a base for an open sandwich. For variety, try flavouring the mixture with spices and dried herbs.
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
If you are missing bread, this offers an ideal keto solution. Light and soft, it is great for small sandwiches, or to replace burger buns
Protein: 4g | Carbs: 0.3g
- 2 medium free-range eggs, separated
- 35g full-fat cream cheese
- Pinch of cream of tartar
1. Preheat the oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 3 and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Lightly oil the parchment paper with a flavourless oil such as sunflower or groundnut oil.
2. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk with an electric beater for about 3 minutes, until very stiff.
3. Place the egg yolks, cream cheese, cream of tartar and a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper into another bowl. Whisk with an electric beater for about 1 minute, until completely smooth.
4. Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture until thoroughly mixed. Spoon four circles of the mixture on to the prepared baking tray and cook in the oven for 15 minutes, until firm and golden brown.
5. Leave to cool completely before removing from the baking parchment.
Baked cabbage with Parmesan and capers
When baked, cabbage takes on a slightly sweet, almost nutty taste. With the umami flavour of Parmesan and the sharp, zesty bursts from the capers, it is elevated to another level.
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Protein is essential for the building of muscles, hormones and much of the infrastructure of our bodies
Protein 5.7g, Carbs, 5.3g
- 1 ½ medium Savoy cabbage, cut in half through the core
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp capers
- 20g Parmesan, finely grated
Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/gas 6 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Place the cabbage wedges on the prepared baking tray, cut-side-up, and brush with the olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
Carefully remove from the oven and press the cabbage down with the back of a spoon to flatten.
Firmly place the capers on top and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Return the cabbage to the oven for a further 5 minutes, until it is browned in places and the cheese has melted.
Oven-roasted spiced chickpeas
Scatter these on to salads, soup or stews.
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Protein: 4.8g | Carbs: 10g
- 1 tbsp white miso paste (approx. 20g)
- ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 1 × 400g tin chickpeas, drained (approx. 240g drained weight)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Combine the miso paste, paprika and garlic in a medium bowl, and season with a pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Add the chickpeas and olive oil and stir to coat. Spread the chickpeas on to the baking tray and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until browning lightly.
3. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Thin seeded chilli crackers
These are nutritional gold dust — super-healthy and delicious on their own, and can be eaten with a dip. You could also scrunch the crackers over a salad for added flavour and texture. Your gut microbiome will love them too.
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Thin seeded chilli crackers are super-healthy and delicious on their own, and can be eaten with a dip
Protein 2.5g, Carbs 2.8g
- 50g sunflower seeds
- 50g pumpkin seeds
- 20g linseeds
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp stoneground or wholegrain flour
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp garlic granules
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 90ml boiling water
Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/gas 6 and line a baking tray no larger than 20 x 30 cm with parchment paper.
Mix the seeds, flour and seasoning together in a large bowl. Slowly pour in the boiling water and mix well.
Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the liquid to be absorbed. Tip the mixture into the baking tray and, using a plastic spatula, carefully spread it out so that it is as thin as possible and fills the entire tray.
You want the crackers to be wafer thin. Mark out 15 crackers with the tip of a knife — this will help you to snap them evenly when they are cooked and crisp.
Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the seeds are golden. Store in an airtight container.