People don’t need to banish bread, pasta and potatoes from their diet to lose weight, Masterchef presenter Greg Wallace said as he revealed the secrets behind his five stone weight loss.
The former greengrocer, 59, changed his diet after weighing almost 17 kilos, with a dangerously obese BMI, and doctors warned him he was at risk of suffering a heart attack.
After trying “every diet under the sun” and none of them worked, he said the secret to his success in losing weight was cutting out takeaways, chocolate and chips and “eating proper meals”, rather than eliminating carbohydrates in your diet.
Gregg said the Mediterranean diet, which is full of whole grain carbohydrates, is “the best you can have” and pointed to France, Italy and Spain, where they eat a lot of bread, potatoes and pasta, but are “all skinny.”
The fitness fanatic also said that going to the gym is not vital for losing weight and urged people to add movement to their day by walking, swimming or even playing table tennis, to maintain the weight loss.
Gregg Wallace, pictured, weighed almost 17 kilos when doctors warned him that he was about to suffer a heart attack with sky-high cholesterol levels.
Wallace, pictured left, weighed almost 17 kilos when he was told he had to lose weight. He now weighs about 12 kilos, in the photo on the right.
Speaking about his new podcast, A Piece of Cake, on BBC Radio 2’s Michael Ball Show yesterday, he said: “There’s so much conflicting information out there it’s hard to know what to do.”
In one episode, Dr. Giles Yeo, a world-renowned geneticist at the University of Cambridge and author of Why Calories Don’t Count, said that exercising to lose weight is “the dumbest thing you can do,” according to Gregg.
Gregg used the example of a 250-calorie chocolate bar.
He said: “As you rightly pointed out, you would have to be on a treadmill for 30 to 40 minutes just to get rid of the chocolate bar.” That’s without the takeaway pizza, the half bottle of rose and some chocolate cookies on the couch.
Gregg launched his own weight loss business, Gregg Wallace Health (GWH), four years ago, which shares tips and recipes to help people lose weight.
Some users of the plan, which does not ban any foods but discourages unhealthy snacks, say they have lost 25 pounds.
The promising program has recently partnered with Loughborough University, where researchers are testing how well it works and hope to gain NHS backing.
Discussing his own weight loss, Gregg said he was motivated to turn the scales after becoming “increasingly unhappy” with his appearance and worrying about his health.
He said: ‘I was getting too big. And there is a photo of me and my dear companion John Torode in India. He looks charming and I’m big; my shirt hanging over my pants, I wasn’t happy.
“At the same time, my doctor did a blood test and said, ‘We have to do something, Mr. Wallace.’ In this blood test sample, his cholesterol is through the roof. “A serious illness awaits him.”
“Those two things combined (being unhappy with my appearance and then the doctor telling me I was going to have a big heart attack) I started to look very closely at how I was living.”
Gregg said he then tried “every diet under the sun and none of them work.” “You just beat yourself up emotionally, you think you’re weak-willed,” he said.
He previously detailed that he tried eating less, cutting out lunch, cutting out carbs, and Weight Watchers, but he was “always hungry and frustrated.”
What finally worked was “stopping snacking, stopping eating takeout and cooking more,” Gregg said.
He said the Mediterranean diet, which includes lots of whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta and oats, is “the best you can have” and rejected the idea that people need to eliminate carbohydrates from their diet.
Carbohydrates, such as rice, cereals, and oats, are full of fiber, calcium, and iron. They are the main source of nutrients and energy in people’s diets.
Health experts have long questioned some diets’ claims that cutting carbs is the key to weight loss. In fact, gram for gram, carbohydrates contain less than half the calories of fat.
Gregg said: ‘We all think we shouldn’t eat carbs. You think about this Mediterranean diet.
‘The French, the amount of bread they consume is small.
‘The Spanish, their patatas bravas and paellas, rice, potatoes… thin.
‘The Italians, the amount of pasta, but they are all thin. It’s not carbohydrates.’
He said: ‘What you won’t see (in those countries) is a lot of takeaways.
‘What you won’t see is people eating chips and chocolate.
‘They stop at lunch time, an hour, two hours, to be able to go eat properly.
‘They’re just eating proper meals.
‘That’s what I learned, that’s how I lost five kilos, that’s what I teach people, that’s what healthy places in the world are doing. They are eating proper food.’
Gregg added that while exercise is vital to maintaining weight loss, spending hours in the gym is not vital to losing weight in the first place.
Gregg’s meals are inspired by a classic Mediterranean diet. This means lots of fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and olive oil. It also includes some dairy from milk and yogurt, and lean proteins from chicken, eggs and fish.
‘Movement is important when you have lost weight to keep it off. Going for a walk, swimming, playing table tennis… doesn’t have to mean being gym bunnies,” he said.
Fitness expert Joe Wicks, aka Body Coach, was a guest on Gregg’s podcast.
‘He draws the line between exercise and movement. “We need movement, but not necessarily exercise,” Gregg added.
Gregg has previously detailed his typical meals, which include a high-protein yogurt with oatmeal and fruit, or an omelette with sausage, mushrooms and turkey bacon for breakfast.
At lunchtime, order canned fish or cooked meat on slices of Ryvita and add a few handfuls of arugula. “I can buy it on the go at any supermarket,” she says.
Dinner usually consists of chicken fillets in pita bread with peppers and onions or homemade curry.
He said his plate is always full and he eats as many meals as he wants.