Tom Watson weight loss: What diet was the former Labour deputy leader on?

Former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson lost an incredible eight stone in two years. Find out what weight loss plan he used and how to do it here.

Tom Watson, whose weight loss story has hit the headlines

Tom Watson lost eight stone, reversed his diabetes and regained his health after overhauling his diet and lifestyle for the better.

The former Labour deputy leader appeared on the ITV show Giving Up Sugar: For Good? in April to demonstrate how much his incredible eight stone weight loss had impacted his life.

Speaking on the show, Tom explains that he was "morbidly obese" and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (opens in new tab), which was the "wake-up call" he needed to get his health back on track.

“Two years ago I turned 50, weighed 22 stone and was heavily medicated for type 2 diabetes. I thought it would be all downhill from there. I thought I was going to die," he told Good Morning Britain last year.

As well as turning to healthy weight loss (opens in new tab) methods to lose weight, Tom also "radically" changed his nutrition, following a sugar-free diet (opens in new tab), cutting back on carbs and taking up exercise. 

How did Tom Watson lose weight?

Kicked the sugar addiction and starchy carbohydrates

In an exclusive in the Daily Mirror (opens in new tab) of his book, 'Downsizing (opens in new tab)', Tom reveals that one of the first steps in his weight loss journey was removing all sugary carbohydrates from his diet. 

"Determined to curb my long-term sugar addiction, I made a concerted effort to omit sugary carbohydrates from my diet (so no cakes, biscuits or chocolates) and I tried my best to limit starchy carbs like bread [which may cause bloating (opens in new tab)], rice, pasta and potatoes.

"The morning after my inaugural workout, I tackled a job that had desperately needed doing for months: a wholesale clear-out of my little kitchen.

"This meant bidding farewell to sweet snacks (goodbye, my beloved KitKats) as well as my favourite breakfast cereals and muesli bars. Nothing remotely sugary was spared the cull."

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Drank more water and ate more veggies

Tom says that he "endeavoured to drink more water (opens in new tab) and eat more vegetables, and try to make more home cooked meals (opens in new tab)" as many of the savoury foods he was eating were actually full of sugar. 

"So into the bin went a stack of microwave meals, shrink-wrapped frozen pizzas, tubs of instant noodles and jars of cooking sauces."

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Took on a new exercise regime

For those looking to lose weight, upping the exercise can often be the hardest part - especially if you’re new to it. As Tom says in the book, "First of all, Clayton [Tom’s personal trainer] asked me to do as many press-ups as I could. I could barely manage one – the utter shame – and collapsed in a pathetic heap.

"But my desire to get healthy superseded any sense of indignity, and as I virtually crawled back home I felt a genuine feeling of elation. Clayton’s session had almost killed me but I was going to return for more of the same. The switch had been flicked."

When Tom returned to Westminster, he was "eating more healthily, exercising more regularly and sleeping more soundly."

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The Ketogenic Diet

A diet well-loved by celebrities for its low carbohydrate programme, Tom Watson took on the Keto diet (opens in new tab) at full force later in the year.

As he says in the book, ‘Then I was introduced to the low-carb, high-fat philosophy of so-called ‘ketogenic’ nutrition which comprised meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, oils and vegetables. All manner of starchy carbohydrates (pasta, rice, grains and potatoes, for example) were strictly forbidden, as were sugary carbs in all their many guises.’ 

"I’d restrict starchy carbohydrates to around 20g per day and opt instead for protein-rich foods (opens in new tab) – plenty of red meat, poultry, fish and dairy – in addition to low-sugar fruits and vegetables like blueberries and broccoli.

"To combat sugar withdrawal cravings and stop myself feeling hungry, I’d increase the amount of saturated fat in my diet (including butter, cheese and double cream)."

But another popular diet has quickly become more associated with the former politician’s incredible weight loss. 

What diet did Tom Watson use for his weight loss?

Tom followed the The Pioppi Diet (opens in new tab), created by Dr Aseem Malhotra, to lose weight. It brings together advice on what people can do to improve their health and reverse the ‘epidemics of obesity (opens in new tab) and type 2 diabetes.’

Referring to the book created by Dr Malhotra, Tom Watson said, "I cut out starchy carbs, I took out refined sugars and this book helped me do it."

The Pioppi Diet (opens in new tab) is named after a village in southern Italy, where the life expectancy is higher supposedly due to a better diet and lifestyle. 

Considered part of the Mediterranean diet, the Pioppi diet that Tom Watson used for weight loss is a low-carbohydrate and high-fat plan which encourages lots of olive oil, vegetables and oily fish, while discouraging red meat and starchy foods like bread and pasta. 

Grace Walsh
Features Writer

Grace Walsh is a Features Writer for, covering breaking news health stories during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as lifestyle and entertainment topics.  She has worked in media since graduating from the University of Warwick in 2019 with a degree in Classical Civilisation and a year spent abroad in Italy. It was here that Grace caught the bug for journalism, after becoming involved in the university’s student newspaper and radio station.