The veggie proteins that help you burn fat

My interest in the health benefits of losing excess weight began in 2012 when I lost the 1st 6lb (9kg) of gut fat which had tipped me into type 2 diabetes.

In the ten years since, I’ve studied all emerging research and tweaked my recommendations to make weight loss easier, better for your long-term health and more sustainable.

That’s why my new Fast 800 Keto plan puts a greater emphasis on ensuring you put plenty of protein on your plate. It preserves your muscles and stops you feeling hungry while eating just enough carbohydrate (mostly from vegetables, fruit and dairy products) to keep you healthy.

My wife, Dr Clare Bailey, food writer Kathryn Bruton and nutritional therapist Caroline Barton have turned the latest weight-loss science into delicious recipes that send your body into a fat-burning state called ketosis. (Watch Clare’s live cooking demos on her Instagram account: @drclarebailey)

And the plan is not just for meat-lovers; you can be equally successful on the Fast 800 Keto if you’re a pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan.

My interest in the health benefits of losing excess weight began in 2012 when I lost the 1st 6lb (9kg) of gut fat which had tipped me into type 2 diabetes. Dr Michael Mosley is pictured above with his wife Dr Claire Bailey

We’ve included lots of lovely fish and vegetarian recipes in my new book, with a great selection to get you started here. Remember: stick to the calorie count on ‘fast’ days, while also getting enough protein and not overdoing the carbs.

Aim to eat at least 50g of protein per day in the first rapid weight-loss stage of the diet (see box below). 

Although you are restricted to 800-900 calories per day, you can top up with 100 calories of extra protein on hungry days without putting weight loss at risk.

Pescatarians can boost their daily protein levels (even on fast days) with small portions of tuna, anchovies or prawns. 

Vegetarians can get a protein top-up via a matchbox-sized piece of cheese (7.5g protein), a tablespoon of Greek yoghurt (deliciously creamy yet has twice the protein of ordinary yoghurt) or a hard-boiled egg (7.7g protein). Vegans can keep hunger at bay with a handful of nuts or seeds.

Top vegan choices

If you are vegan, be clever in your protein choices, as many ‘fake meat’ products are not only low in protein but come with hidden carbohydrates which would kick you out of ketosis. 

Even wholesome vegetable sources of protein, such as legumes and pulses, have quite a high carbohydrate content.

So focus on high-protein foods such as tofu, tempeh (which has more protein than tofu — almost 25g in one serving), edamame beans and seitan. Adding two big spoonfuls of nutritional yeast to soups and sauces can add an extra 25g of protein. Vegan protein powder can also boost your intake.

Because protein is so important, vegans can go over 1,000 calories a day if necessary. You’ll still lose weight, just not quite as fast.

The next step

After anything from two to 12 weeks on the rapid weight-loss phase of the plan, you can switch to stage two, which follows a 3:4 or 5:2 pattern of ‘fasting’ for four or five consecutive days each week and allows larger portions and a larger calorie intake at weekends.

Up your protein to 60-80g on non-fast days (recipes can be doubled or increased in size, and in my new book, many recipes include ‘non-fast day’ modifications).

As you progress, you can reduce the 800-calorie days further to only two days a week (the 5:2).

Can I have a tipple? 

While you are trying to lose a lot of weight fast, cut out alcohol completely, as it gives you the munchies (when I’m drinking I find crisps impossible to resist) and is extremely calorific: one large glass of wine is around 230 calories — the same as a bar of chocolate.

Once you hit your target weight you can go back to social drinking at weekends — in moderation.

The Fast 800 in a nutshell 

Stage 1: Rapid Weight Loss

800-900 cals a day for two to 12 weeks with protein add-ons to take you to 1,000 cals if needed. Eat at least 50g protein and less than 50g carbs a day — and you should lose 1-2kg per week. 

Stage 2: Intermittent fasting 

800-900 cals on four or five consecutive days a week and a portion-controlled but more relaxed approach on non-fast days (increasing protein to 60‑80g). 

Try ‘time-restricted eating’ which sets your eating window at 12 hours each day (i.e. 8am-8pm). 

Stage 3: Maintenance 

No calorie-counting but monitor your weight. Eat a Mediterranean-style diet with 1g protein per 1kg of body weight daily.

If you have a significant medical condition, are on insulin, have type 2 diabetes and are on medication, blood pressure medication, have retinopathy, epilepsy, gallstones, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before going on this diet. It is unsuitable for teenagers, people with a history of an eating disorder, have a psychiatric illness, are unwell, underweight or doing endurance exercise.

Apple Protein Breakfast

Per serving: 329kcals, 6.5g protein, 11g carbs

Serves 2

  • 1 crisp apple, cut into 6 slices, pips removed
  • 2 tbsp full-fat cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp mixed berries, defrosted
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 60g pecan nuts, broken

Spread the apple rounds with cream cheese. Top with the berries and arrange on a plate. Sprinkle with the flaxseed and pecans to serve.

Apple Protein Breakfast

Apple Protein Breakfast

Zingy Slaw Breakfast

Per serving: 261kcals, 8g protein, 23g carbs

Serves 2 

  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 medium carrot, trimmed and grated
  • 1 orange, peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • ½ x ball of stem ginger, diced
  • 50g flaked almonds, toasted

Place the grated apple in a bowl and squeeze over the juice from the lemon wedge to prevent it from browning. 

Mix in the grated carrot, then the orange and ginger. Divide between two bowls and top with the almonds before serving.

Zingy Slaw Breakfast

Zingy Slaw Breakfast

Lunchbox Salad

Per serving: 320kcals, 14g protein, 11g carbs

Serves 1

  • ½ small head of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
  • 4 piquante red peppers from a jar, quartered
  • 25g feta, crumbled
  • 10g pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tbsp cider vinegar

Place the broccoli in a pan of salted boiling water and simmer for 1 minute. Drain at once and refresh under cold water. 

Place the peppers, feta and pumpkin seeds, plus the cooked broccoli, in a bowl (or lunchbox) and drizzle over the oil and vinegar. Toss to coat and season.

Non-fast day: Increase or double the portion size and/or serve with 2-3 tablespoons of cooked brown rice, quinoa or wholewheat pasta.

Lunchbox Salad

Lunchbox Salad

Simple Saag with Tandoori Halloumi

Per serving: 516kcals, 24g protein, 20g carbs

Serves 2

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2.5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 260g frozen spinach
  • 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 ½ tbsp tandoori curry powder
  • 125g halloumi, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 30g cashews

Using 1 tbsp olive oil, sauté the onion, garlic and ginger in a large frying pan over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes. 

Add the spinach, tomatoes and 1 tbsp of the curry powder and bring to a simmer. 

Cook for 8 minutes, stirring from time to time to break up the blocks of spinach. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, transfer to a bowl and keep warm.

Wipe the pan clean and return to the heat. Fry the halloumi in the remaining olive oil for about 3 minutes, or until browned and crisp. 

Stir in the remaining curry powder and cook for 30 seconds more. Spoon the spinach mixture into bowls and top with the halloumi and cashew nuts.

Simple Saag with Tandoori Halloumi

Simple Saag with Tandoori Halloumi

Beetroot Burgers with Crunchy Salad

Per serving: 335kcals, 14g protein, 17g carbs

Serves 4

  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 2-3 cooked beetroot (approx 125g)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 x 400g can black beans, drained
  • 70g walnuts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g halloumi, sliced
  • Handful of lettuce, cucumber slices and cornichons, to serve

Place the red onion, beetroot, ground cumin, paprika, sea salt, black beans and walnuts in a food processor and blitz until fairly smooth, but don’t overdo it or the mixture will be too soft.

Place the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Use a spatula to transfer the beetroot mixture into the pan and shape into 4 patties. Cook for 5 minutes, then carefully flip the burgers. Cook for a further 5 minutes until crisping and heated through, then remove and keep warm.

Fry the halloumi for a few minutes on each side to colour. Serve the burgers on a bed of lettuce, cucumber and cornichons, placing the halloumi on top.

Beetroot Burgers with Crunchy Salad

Beetroot Burgers with Crunchy Salad

Green Veg Gratin

Per serving: 292kcals, 13g protein, 5g carbs

Serves 4

  • 1 tsp butter, for greasing
  • 2 large leeks, sliced
  • 100g cavolo nero, chopped
  • 100ml hot vegetable stock (¼ stock cube in boiling water)
  • 250ml creme fraiche
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 100g hazelnuts, chopped
  • 30g Cheddar, grated

Preheat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6 and butter a gratin or pie dish. Steam or blanch the leeks and cavolo nero for a couple of minutes to soften, then drain.

Place the vegetables and the hot stock in the prepared gratin or pie dish. Season with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper.

Combine the creme fraiche and mustard with the Parmesan in a small bowl, then stir into the veg so everything is lightly coated.

Scatter the nuts over the top, followed by the Cheddar. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until beginning to colour and the cheese is melting.

Green Veg Gratin

Green Veg Gratin

And when you want something sweet…

Chocolate Chia Yoghurt Pots

Per serving: 152kcals, 9g protein, 8g carbs

Serves 2

  • 100g Greek yoghurt
  • 100ml full-fat milk
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 20g chia seeds
  • 1 tsp maple syrup

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined. Then divide into two small bowls and leave to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Chocolate Chia Yoghurt Pots

Chocolate Chia Yoghurt Pots