In January this year, former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson appeared on Good Morning Britain to talk about his incredible eight stone weight loss and new book, Downsizing.
Downsizing: How I lost 8 stone, reversed my diabetes and regained my health was released in the same month and covers the amazing weight loss journey that Tom Watson went on following his departure from front line politics in December 2019.
Speaking to hosts Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan, he revealed how he undertook such a journey and the problem with government health advice around weight loss, “I gave up on refined sugar and I cut down on carbs, increased the fat intake and that required me to break public health guidelines.
“Balance is required and I think that what I’ve learnt about myself and what I think thousands of other people who’ve done this have learnt, is that the time for one size fits all nutritional advice from the government is over. People need bespoke advice, their bodies are different.”
Tom Watson, who had type 2 diabetes, also said that now he’s retired from politics he’d like to work with other people who have the condition to make changes in public health policy as through the weight loss, he reversed his condition.
“Two years ago I turned 50, weighed 22 stone and was heavily medicated for type 2 diabetes,” he said. “I thought it would be all downhill from there. I thought I was going to die.
“By radically changing my nutrition, cutting out sugar, and taking up exercise, I’ve changed my life and reversed my diabetes.”
So how did Tom Watson lose weight?
Kicked the sugar addiction and starchy carbohydrates
In an exclusive extract of Downsizing from the Mirror, 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, 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.’
Drinking more water and eating more veggies
In the same extract, Tom says that he ‘endeavoured to drink more water and eat more vegetables, and try to make more home cooked meals’ 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.’
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.’
The Ketogenic Diet
A diet well-loved by celebrities for its low carbohydrate programme, Tom Watson took on the keto diet 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 – 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?
The Pioppi Diet, created by Dr Aseem Malhotra, is not only a weight loss plan. It brings together advice on what people can do to improve their health and reverse the ‘epidemics of obesity 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,”.
What is the Pioppi Diet? 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 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.