What’s up doc?
Can't get an appointment at your local GP surgery? Go see one on tour instead! Dr Michael Mosley is rocking up in Wycombe and is on hand to answer all your impertinent questions. Muddy meets him.
Health is the new rock ’n’ roll, doncha know, with fans queuing up to see Dr Michael Mosley – or “the 5:2 guy” as he puts it – on his first theatre tour, Trust Fast Health.
Don’t worry, he isn’t playing guitar, rather answering audience’s health questions, talking about this new book, The Fast 800 (the 5:2 diet the next generation, basically) and ruminating on his 30 year TV career. Ahead of his gig at Wycombe Swan on Tues 26 March, Muddy booked in for a private consultation to show him our bunions, er, I mean, grill the good doctor on all things diet, health and wellbeing related.
How’s the tour going so far?
Very well. We’re getting 600-700 people per night and the audiences are very warm and ask lots of questions.
What kind of thing?
People are very interested in time-restricted eating which is a new variant on intermittent fasting and the link between food, gut anxiety and depression – I talk about how to eat to reduce stress and anxiety. And someone recently asked if I’d tried the new Gregg’s vegan sausage roll.
And have you?
Veganism is now huge of course – thoughts?
It’s largely driven by celebrities and Instagram but I applaud the ethical side of it. And I am trying to eat less meat myself at the moment. But it’s worth remembering you can be a healthy vegan or an unhealthy vegan. The danger is that unless you do it properly you’ll become deficient in iron, B12 and iodine. The latter we mainly get from milk – proper milk, not almond milk. A quarter of young women in the UK are already iodine deficient. So if you’re going vegan, you need to make sure you’re taking supplements.
A few years ago, it would’ve seemed strange to see a doctor on tour – it’s like health is the new rock’n’roll, isn’t it?
Yes and people have said they’re surprised by quite how funny and entertaining the show is! It’s quite interactive with the Q&A, I talk about people I’ve worked with in TV like John Cleese, David Attenborough and Jeremy Clarkson and I cover my early experiments on my body and show videos from those shows. One has made a couple of people in the audience faint so I now have to warn people they might need to look away. It’s a clip from a show I did about pain and I put a needle through my hand. The two guys who fainted were both 40-year-old men so they’re obviously a squeamish bunch!
I’m hoping lots of family members and friends will come down to the Wycombe Swan because it’s home turf for me. I live in Beaconsfield, my wife is a local GP and I’m a member of a male book club so I’m expecting them to roll up, along with some medic friends. I expect there will be heckling.
Is your new book, The Fast 800, the next step on from the 5:2 diet?
It’s an update on the 5:2 because lots has happened since I wrote that – there’s been lots of new research. In terms of intermittent fasting, the idea is you have two fasting days per week where you eat 800 calories [rather than the previous recommendation of 500-600]. People find this more doable and easier to stick to it but it has the same advantages. And if you have a lot of weight to lose, you can do the rapid weight loss phase, which is 800 calories per day, every day, for the first weeks of the diet. It’s not for everyone but new studies have shown the significance of rapid weight loss.
Hang on, we’ve always been told that dropping weight quickly messes up our metabolism?
Yes but the idea that it’ll crash your metabolism is an enduring myth. The evidence is very clear – the weight you lose in the first four weeks predicts your success in the short, medium and long term. And when you can clearly see weight coming off, it’s more rewarding and you’re more likely to stick to it.
[Steps away from biscuit barrel] It must be hard for you to eat healthily on the road – all those Premier Inn fry ups?
Yes, it’s tricky. I have some meal replacement shakes in my suitcase. But I succumb to the fry up every now and then. On the tour I’ve tried to follow the time-restricted eating pattern I talk about in the book. So I eat at 5.30/6pm, the show starts at 7.30, I’m back at my hotel about 10.45, straight to bed and then have breakfast at 9am. So that’s a 15 hour overnight fast.
When you’re home, what’s your go-to speedy supper?
We have cooked brown rice or quinoa in the freezer – if you cook it, cool it and freeze it, the starch becomes resistant starch which means your body gets fewer calories and more fibre from it. I use it for a stir fry with fish, veg and soy sauce.
What’s the one thing most of us could do to improve our health?
Sleep better. So many people suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. We need to find ways of eating better, exercising better, and reducing our stress – they all help with getting a good night’s rest.
Dr Michael Mosley’s Trust Fast Health is at the Wycombe Swan on 26 March, tickets here.