Dr Michael Mosley: My new Mediterranean 5:2 diet

Dr Michael Mosley’s new and improved Mediterranean 5:2 diet can cut the risk of diabetes, heart disease and even depression

‘I’ve created a diet that features three different options depending on whether your goal is to shape up and lose a few inches, shift a stone, or shed twice that,’ says Dr Michael Mosley

In last’s week’s LIFE, I launched a new, 12-week version of my famous 5:2 diet plan, designed to help you slim down and get healthier by the summer. I’ve created a diet that features three different options depending on whether your goal is to shape up and lose a few inches, shift a stone, or shed twice that.

There’s the classic 5:2, the very fast 5:2 (in which calories are restricted to 800 daily), and finally the simple Mediterranean approach designed to supercharge your health.

To help those embarking on the 5:2 diets, we’ve created some delicious 800-calorie menus: use these and you can expect to lose up to a stone by July.

For everyone else (and for non-fasting days), we’ve suggested healthy additions to the low calorie recipes which, even with the additional calories, should see you looking trimmer in 12 weeks. The secret lies in the health-boosting properties of the Mediterranean diet – which has inspired every recipe included in my plan.

Based on biggest nutrition study ever carried out

The Mediterranean meals I champion are a far cry from the pizzas and pasta favoured by many in parts of southern Europe today. The version of the diet I am about to describe is very much traditional, and refers to the food that would have been eaten by people who lived in the Mediterranean a generation ago. It is also based on one of the biggest and most important nutrition studies ever carried out; the PREDIMED study (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea).

In this 2013 study, Spanish researchers recruited over 7,400 Spanish overweight, middle-aged men and women and randomly allocated them to either a Mediterranean or a low-fat diet. Both groups were encouraged to eat lots of fresh fruit, vegetables and legumes (such as beans, lentils and peas). They were discouraged from sugary drinks, cakes, sweets or pastries and from eating too much processed meat such as bacon or salami.

Take your lead from my recipes – they are a perfect guide as to how to get the best out of the diet and, whatever your weight-loss goal, live longer, healthier and happier

Crucially, only those allocated to the Mediterranean diet were asked to eat plenty of eggs, nuts and oily fish, use lots of olive oil and encouraged to eat some dark chocolate and enjoy the occasional glass of wine with their evening meal.

In contrast, the low-fat diet group, were told to eat low-fat dairy products and lots of starchy foods such as bread, potatoes, pasta and rice.

The researchers followed the volunteers for just under five years, getting them to fill in food diaries and keeping a check on their health via medical examinations, questionnaires and blood and urine samples. All volunteers were given an ‘M score’, according to how closely they stuck to Mediterranean diet.

Within three years, dramatic differences between the two groups appeared. Not only were those who had a high M score slimmer, but they were also much healthier, slashing their risk of a multitude of diseases. The benefits were astonishing, and included:

  • 30 per cent reduced risk of heart attack or stroke
  • 58 per cent reduced risk of type two diabetes
  • 51 per cent reduced risk of breast cancer for women and a reduced risk of cognitive decline

You can calculate your own ‘M’ score by following the instructions below.

Other than the abundance of vitamins and antioxidants, there is another, crucial reason why this diet is so super-healthy. 

As I discovered while researching my latest book, The Clever Guts Diet, eating Mediterranean-style foods also has a dramatic and positive effect on your gut microbiome – the microbes that live in your gut and which are now proven to be so important for our physical and mental wellbeing.

As with any weight-loss plan, always see your doctor before you start. Seek medical advice if you: 

  • Have a history of eating disorders.
  • Are taking prescribed medication.
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Have a significant medical or mental health condition.
  • Don’t go on the diet if you:
  • Are under 18.
  • Are very lean or underweight (BMI below 21).
  • Are recovering from surgery or are generally frail.

By feeding good bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, you encourage them to thrive which, in turn, boosts your health too. It’s another very good reason to give this tasty style of eating a go.

More recently, a study carried out in Australia found that four times as many patients with depression and anxiety who followed a Med diet were able to come off all medication, compared to a control group. Those who stuck closest to the diet enjoyed the biggest improvement in mood.

Since the publication of these pioneering studies, the popularity of the Med diet has soared, but there is often some confusion as to which foods qualify as Mediterranean and which do not.

Take your lead from my recipes – they are a perfect guide as to how to get the best out of the diet and, whatever your weight-loss goal, live longer, healthier and happier.

The Do’s and Don’ts 

  • DO eat fresh, lean meat and fish such as mackerel, pork, chicken, turkey and lamb
  • DO stick to whole grain carbohydrates; quinoa, whole rye, bulgar wheat and pearl barley
  • DO snack on unsalted nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and cashews
  • DO opt for full-fat dairy such as yogurt
  • DO eat legumes including chickpeas and lentils
  • DON’T count spuds as veg
  • DON’T opt for tropical fruit such as melon, grapes, pineapple and bananas
  • DON’T be tempted by processed meat like ham, bacon, sausage and salami
  • DON’T choose white bread, or pasta over wholegrain, rye or wholemeal varieties.

What you need to know about the NEW 5:2 diet… 

My new diet will help you lose a significant amount of weight as easily as possible, without sacrificing delicious foods.

Based on a Mediterranean diet rich in fish, olive oil, nuts, yogurt, eggs and wholegrains – proven to be one of the

Healthiest ways to eat – the programme could help you shift a stone in just 12 weeks.

The NEW 5:2 applies similar science-based rules to the original 5:2, I pioneered – with a Mediterranean twist. It involves eating a healthy diet five days a week, then cutting your calories down to about 800 for the remaining two ‘fast’ days.

Also known as the Fast Dietor ‘intermittent fasting’, eating this way is proven to reduce body fat significantly and helps to prevent a range of age-related diseases. It might seem restrictive, but you’ll be surprised how far 800 calories goes if you choose the right foods.

My recipes can be made in two ways: either high calorie for five non-fasting days, or lowcalorie for the remaining two.

What’s more, they are all nutritious, delicious and will keep you satisfyingly full. 


For those with a significant amount of weight to lose, use the stricter version of my new 5:2. It involves eating 800 calories a day, every day, therefore opting for the low-calorie version of my recipes. This diet is not for everyone – a list of serious exemptions are listed below left.

Before embarking, I strongly recommend visiting my website thebloodsugardiet.com, for lots of helpful advice about how to maintain the diet. Ask yourself how you are feeling mentally and physically throughout, and only if you are feeling good should you continue. Keeping well is your top priority. 


Don’t worry if you don’t want to lose weight, this diet can also tone you up in time for summer. Choose the higher-calorie version of these recipes, and follow a few, basic Med diet rules: avoid starchy carbohydrates such as pasta and potatoes and opt for wholegrains such as quinoa or bulgur (cracked wheat) instead; eat plenty of legumes such as lentils and chickpeas; avoid sugary treats and limit alcohol to an average of one small glass of wine daily. 

Are you a Med diet master? Take my M Test to find out 

Answer the following questions, giving yourself a point each time you answer ‘yes’. Add up your points to calculate your score: Ten or above is classed as ‘good’.

1: Do you use olive oil as your main cooking fat and dressing?

2: Do you eat two or more portions of vegetables a day? (one serving = half a large bag of raw spinach)

3: Do you eat two or more portions of non-tropical fruit a day?

4: Do you eat less than one serving of processed meat a day? (one serving = 1 1/2 sausages)

5: Do you eat full-fat yogurt at least three times a week?

6: Do you eat three or more servings of legumes a week? (one serving = 1/3 tin of chickpeas)

7: Do you eat three or more servings of whole grains a week? (one serving = 3/4 of a cup of bulgar wheat)

8: Do you eat oily fish, prawns or shellfish three or more times a week?

9: Do you eat sweet treats like cakes, biscuits, etc less than three times a week?

10: Do you eat a serving (a handful) of nuts three or more times a week?

11: Do you cook with garlic, onions and tomatoes at least three times a week?

12: Do you drink an average of seven glasses of wine a week or less?

13: Do you eat at the table at least twice a day?

14: Do you drink sweet, fizzy beverages no more than once a week?

Labneh with tahini, honey, fruit and seeds

The Mediterranean 5:2 diet 


Labneh with tahini, honey, fruit and seeds

Ingredients (serves four) 

200g thick greek yogurt

Pinch of salt

To serve

  • Two tablespoons tahini
  • Four teaspoons runny honey
  • 200g mixed fruit
  • Four teaspoons mixed seeds, toasted 

Mix the yogurt and salt together, then spoon into the centre of a square of muslin or a new J-cloth, wrap up tightly and secure with an elastic band, then suspend over a large bowl or jug and leave to hang in the fridge for 24 hours. Remove elastic band, unwrap the cloth and scoop out thickened yogurt. Serve in bowls with tahini swirled through, then top with the honey, fruit and seeds. 

Low calorie: 176

High calorie: 443

Higher-calorie: Double tahini and honey and serve with 1 wholemeal flatbread per person.


Cumin and coriander chicken kebab with houmas salad

Cumin and coriander chicken kebab with houmas salad 

Ingredients (serves, four)

For the chicken

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 300g chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

For the houmous

  • 200g can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced 

For the salad

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ¼ white cabbage, finely shredded
  • ¼ red cabbage, finely shredded
  • Small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
  • Small bunch dill, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate seeds

Preheat the grill to high. Mix the olive oil, cumin, coriander, lemon zest and juice, garlic and seasoning in a bowl then add the chicken and mix well to coat. Leave to marinate in the fridge.

Add the chickpeas, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and some seasoning to a food processor and blitz until smooth, adding a splash of water if needed.

For the salad, whisk the extra virgin olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and some seasoning together in a bowl then add the cabbage and herbs and mix well.

Thread the chicken pieces on to 4 skewers and grill for 6-8 minutes, turning halfway through, until cooked through and golden.

Divide the salad and houmous between 4 plates then top with the skewers and scatter over the pomegranate seeds.

Low calorie: 280

Higher calorie: 513 

Higher-calorie: Add 100g cooked bulgar wheat to salad and one wholemeal flatbread per serving.

Aubergine lasagna rolls

Aubergine lasagna rolls   

Ingredients (serves four): 

  • 2 aubergines, cut length ways into 0.5cm slices
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 400g passata
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 200g frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
  • 100g ricotta
  • ½ ball mozzarella, torn into small pieces
  • 4 small handfuls rocket
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.

Brush the aubergine slices with the tbsp of olive oil then cook on baking sheets for 8-10 minutes until they have softened. Meanwhile heat the remaining 1 tsp of olive in a pan and cook the garlic for 1 minute, then add the passata, dried basil and some seasoning.

Simmer for 5 minutes then add the lemon juice. In a bowl mix the spinach, ricotta, lemon zest and some seasoning. Once the aubergine has cooked, spoon 2 tsp of the spinach mixture at the end of each slice then roll them up and place in a baking dish. Pour over the tomato sauce then top with the mozzarella.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve with the rocket tossed in extra virgin olive oil and some seasoning.

Low calorie: 275

High calorie: 425

Higher-calorie: Increase to 3 aubergines, 200g ricotta and add 1 avocado to salad.

Grilled sardine fillets with romesco sauce and tomatoes 

Grilled sardine fillets with romesco sauce and tomatoes 

Ingredients (serves four)

  • 1 red pepper, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 20g almonds
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 8 sardines, butterflied (approx 350g)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 4 large tomatoes, halved

Preheat the grill to high. Put the pepper skin side up on a baking tray with the garlic and almonds then grill for 8-10 minutes.

Put the pepper in a bowl and cover with clingfilm. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin. Put the peeled peppers, garlic, almonds, extra virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, tomato puree, 1 tsp of the paprika and some seasoning in a food processor and pulse to a rough paste.

Drizzle the sardines and tomatoes with the olive oil, ½ tsp paprika, the lemon zest and half the juice plus some seasoning then grill for 3-4 minutes on each side until cooked through.

Serve the grilled fish and tomatoes alongside the romesco sauce and squeeze over the remaining lemon juice.

Low calorie: 295

High calorie: 464

Higher-calorie: Double the romesco sauce and serve with 50g cooked brown rice per person.

Flatbread pizza

Flatbread pizza 

Ingredients (serves four)  

  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 200g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 small wholemeal flatbreads or tortillas
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 40g feta
  • Small handful basil leaves 

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas mark 6. 

Stir the garlic, tomatoes and oregano together with some seasoning then spread over the flatbreads. Top with the slices of tomato, a drizzle of oil and the feta then bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Scatter over the basil leaves to serve.

Low calorie: 248

High calorie: 378

Higher-calorie: Add 100g mozzarella and 50g sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped.


Nutty dark chocolate bark with yogurt

Nutty dark chocolate bark with yogurt 

(Ingredients serves 8, for non-fasting days) 

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 20g mixed nuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • 40g natural yogurt

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or in short bursts in a microwave. 

Line a baking tray with clingfilm then pour the chocolate on to the tray and spread into a rectangular shape. 

Sprinkle over the nuts, then chill in the fridge for 20 minutes until the chocolate has set. Smash into shards and serve with the yogurt drizzled over.

Calories: 154 


Grilled figs with honey and nuts

Grilled figs with honey and nuts 

Ingredients (serves four, for non-fasting days)

  • 8 figs, halved
  • 1 tbsp runny honey, plus 2 tsp to serve
  • 20g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp Greek yogurt

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.

 Put the figs flesh side up in a baking dish, drizzle over the honey and cook in the oven for 5 minutes. 

Scatter over the nuts and cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until the figs have softened and the nuts have toasted. 

Serve with yogurt and remaining honey.

Calories: 158 


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