In addition, you’ll find that this 5- Day Diet normalises blood sugar levels, reducing cravings for both sugar and alcohol, normalises blood pressure, cholesterol and blood fats (triglycerides), and reduces pain and inflammation. This makes it excellent for those with diabetes (with some provisos explained on page 7), heart disease or arthritis wishing to make a quantum leap towards health.
All this adds up to a potentially profound anti- ageing effect, with better production of stem cells, the foundation cells from which we develop all new cells, from skin cells to brain cells.
It is not a diet for life, but specifically for five days, after which I recommend that you follow my low- GL, or slow- carb, way of eating to continue with weight loss and then to adopt it as a lifestyle maintenance diet. The low- GL diet is easy to do anywhere, even in restaurants, if you order wisely. This should become your way of life, with the 5- Day Diet used as a reboot every now and again in much the same way that you put your car in for a service. It’s also a great way to kick- start weight loss if you’ve been gradually gaining weight or need to trim down for the summer, after Christmas, or to fit into all those clothes you used to wear. Generally, I recommend that healthy people follow my 5- Day Diet four times a year, and that people who have specific health issues that they wish to reverse do it once a month for at least four months, as this has been shown to reset health to a higher level; for example, animals with autoimmune disease have reversed their condition with four cycles (more on this in Chapter 1).
In Part 1 I explain the theory: why the diet works and how to trigger autophagy without fasting completely; what ketones areand how ketosis works (see opposite for a brief description); the process of detoxifying your body; and supporting healthy digestion and elimination when a low calorie intake inevitably means eating less fibre.
In Part 2 I’ll explain how to do it: the drinks, foods, recommended supplements, exercises and also how to monitor your progress, including ‘bio- hacking’ (measuring how your body is responding via ketones in your breath or a pinprick blood test for your glucose and ketone levels), for those who choose to.
In Part 3 I explain how to transition to the low- GL lifestyle diet. Ketones and ketosis For fuel, your cells can either burn glucose or ketones made from fat. When you switch from primarily running on glucose to running on ketones your blood, urine and breath levels of ketones will go up. This is called ketosis. (I explain this crucial element of the diet in detail on pages 18–19.) The discovery of the health benefits of autophagy was originally made by studying what happens in total fasting, but now we know that you can get an even better result by not completely fasting, but by following a strict and very precise diet, plus taking supplements that are high in autophagy triggers. What these are and how they work, as well as the inner workings of my 5- Day Diet, will all be explained in this book so that you can follow it and experience the immediate rewards for yourself.
I became fascinated by this topic when I was researching The Hybrid Diet, co- authored with award- winning medical journalist Jerome Burne, and the tales of transformation achieved in animals and humans, including the reversal of both type- 2 diabetes and autoimmune type- 1 diabetes (in animals), as well as rapid weight loss, energy gain and reduction in pain with all hard measures of vital statistics (from cholesterol to inflammatory markers) in humans. I’ll explain how autophagy works in Chapter 2, as well outlining the foods and nutrients that act as autophagy triggers, which are all included in the 5- Day Diet, and how to exclude all the foods and lifestyle elements that act as autophagy blockers.
As I will explain in Chapter 1, this diet is based on my trial run in 2019. I took 14 volunteers aged from 34 to 74 on a retreat in Wales for seven days, giving them the last two days to ‘transition’ to my slow- carb maintenance diet explained in Part 3, and it is the inspiration for this book. The volunteers started with a variety of aches, pains and conditions such as diabetes, and I wanted to see how they would respond to my 5- Day Diet followed by my slow- carb lifestyle diet and whether their health benefited. I also followed the diet with them. I was delighted to find that there was a weight loss of 34.2kg (75lb) across 14 people – an average of 5lb (2.5kg) – and their health markers improved. Furthermore, people were able to follow the very low- calorie part of the diet comfortably and reported that they did not feel excessively hungry but soon enjoyed the benefits from the diet, which continued to grow as they followed the low- carb phase that followed.
SUPERCHARGE YOUR ENERGY
Something I also experienced after the retreat, as did many others, was an undeniable supercharge of energy and clarity of mind in the weeks after the 5- Day Diet. Here’s what the volunteers reported: ‘Energy now better than normal, mental acuity – brighter’, ‘In all honesty I feel 100 per cent better’, ‘But I feel tighter and pretty irresistible !’ ‘I haven’t experienced any sugar temptation, which I would usually find difficult to resist’, ‘I am very focused and find my mind is very clear and organised’, ‘Sleep is great since retreat’, ‘I am feeling extra- good: mood great, energy great’, ‘I feel in control and very relaxed about my food. I haven’t felt like snacking in the evenings, which is new for me.’ In all, you really feel as if your whole energy metabolism has been given a reboot – a supercharge.
This is, of course, really exciting, with maximum benefit for minimum effort, but there is another side to this, which is now being explored in a number of research studies relating to ‘irreversible’ autoimmune diseases, from type- 1 diabetes to rheumatoid arthritis, neurological disorders from Parkinson’s to dementia, and also certain cancers, especially glioblastoma brain cancers. Dr Thomas Seyfried at Harvard Medical School is using ketogenic diets with great results for these kinds of brain cancers.1 (It’s too early to say if this approach is beneficial for all cancers in all stages, but certainly to starve cancer cells of sugar seems to be a universally good idea.) The lifetime risk of cancer has quickly escalated from less than one in ten to one in three in the past 40 years, and that means that a set of factors (not genes, since they haven’t changed) is forcing our cells to tip into a diseased cancer state. The idea that we could reset our cells and immune system to tip back to a healthy metabolic state is perhaps the most exciting new frontier in nutritional medicine today. By following the 5- Day Diet with my low- GL diet as your baseline way of eating you’ll be making some important steps towards protecting yourself from disease.
I’ll fill you in on the latest findings in Chapter 1 so that you can see who is more likely to benefit from this approach, the most researched version of which is called the fastingmimicking diet, devised by Professor Valter Longo of the University of Southern California. My 5- Day Diet goes two steps further, pulling out all the stops to trigger autophagy and also to support detoxification. It is also easier in terms of the level of hunger and withdrawal effects and tastier with our tailor- made recipes.
I’m also going to show you what to eat before and after the five days, which involves switching from burning fat for fuel to eating slow carbs. The 5- Day Diet is ‘hybrid’ because it involves five days on very low- carb, high- fat foods, triggering ketosis, whereby your energy cells switch from burning glucose to ketones derived from fat, followed by going on to my low- GL diet, which means that your body will switch back to running on slow carbs. This low- GL diet has a weight- loss element and a lifestyle element, so you can move easily from one to the other when you have reached your weight- loss goal. This becomes your baseline diet for life. Those who have read The Hybrid Diet will understand the value of switching, from time to time, from a low- GL/slow- carb diet to a high- fat, very low- carb ketogenic diet. It seems that doing this 5- Day Diet once a month if you’re overweight or not that healthy, or once a quarter if you are, is the fastest way to improve your health and to protect yourself against future ill- health.
A MODIFIED FAST
The 5- Day Diet is a modified fast because you’ll be eating about 800 calories a day, which is the lowest you can go without feeling really hungry, but it is low enough to trigger autophagy, your cellular system reboot. This low- calorie phase is supplemented with specific nutrients. I’ll be explaining exactly how you can boost this important process in your body by using specific calorie- free nutrients in supplements that trigger autophagy. Total fasting leads to loss of muscle mass and that’s something you don’t want, especially if you are older. By doing a small amount of aerobic exercise, as explained in Chapter 6, you’ll maintain your muscle mass. The beneficial results, including weight loss, are also surprisingly fast. You will be amazed at how much better you feel in a very short space of time.
When you go into ketosis, burning off excess body fat, you also release stored toxins, because the body dumps toxins that it can’t get rid of fast enough into storage in body fat. As a consequence, you can feel worse after a couple of days when you fast. It’s called the ‘healing crisis’, but I think it’s just a crisis because, on a total fast, you are not taking in any nutrients to support the liver, which has to work hard to process released toxins for elimination in the urine; however, by including specific nutrients, especially antioxidants that support liver detoxification (as explained in Chapter 8) you won’t suffer at all. This is all taken care of in the 5- Day Diet.
WHO SHOULDN’T DO THE DIET?
The diet is fine for people with type- 2 diabetes who are either drug- free or who control their diabetes with metformin alone, but not for those people who need medical supervision and dosage adjustment of other drugs that they are taking – the danger being blood sugar dips. I’d caution against this approach for anyone significantly underweight, where losing a few extra pounds would be a concern. For those who don’t need to lose weight, you might lose 2–3kg (4 to 7lb), mainly from belly fat. This diet is designed to preserve lean body mass, if followed together with the specified exercises in Chapter 6. If you suffer from a specific disease, check with your doctor as to whether there would be any contraindications with the medication you’re on. I am not claiming that this diet prevents, reverses or treats any disease as such.
If you do experience any adverse symptoms check the Troubleshooting section in Chapter 10. I also have a private group on Facebook, as part of my 100% Health Club, which I check almost every day (see Resources), where you can seek help with basic practical questions and suggestions if you get stuck or suffer minor symptoms, but this does not constitute medical supervision. If in doubt, please speak to your doctor or primary healthcare provider.
Wishing you the best of health,
Introduction - Five Days to a New You, extracted from The 5-Day Diet out 28 May. Pre-order here.