The Pioppi Diet: what is it and how can it help to lose weight? 

Made famous by former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson’s weight loss. 
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  • The Pioppi Diet is named after a town in southern Italy, where the residents have a high life expectancy because of their famously healthier diet and lifestyle. 

    Created by Dr Aseem Malhotra, the Pioppi Diet was made famous however by the former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, who lost a whole eight stone over a two year period and reversed his type 2 diabetes thanks to the principles included in the diet plan.

    The Pioppi Diet revolves around the same ideas as other Mediterranean diets, which encourage plenty of vegetables and foods that are high in good fats like those found in olive oil. 

    However unlike similar diets, the Pioppi Diet advocates for limited carbohydrates and instead includes foods high in fat, including saturated fats like coconut oil, and restricts starchy foods such as bread and pasta. 

    So how does the Pioppi work for weight loss? 

    “The Pioppi Diet is a 21-day lifestyle plan that includes both dietary changes along with an active lifestyle, adequate sleep, socialising and moderate alcohol consumption.” Nutritionist Gareth Nicholas of Maximuscle says, “The suggestion of this diet is to help individual’s lose weight, manage or reverse diabetes, heart disease and dementia. Although no specific peer reviewed research has been conducted on the Pioppi diet. The ideas and practice come from a sound approach, which may be well worth trying it.”

    What can you eat on the Pioppi diet?

    picture of full fat dairy products, one of the staples of the Pioppi diet

    Credit: Getty

    The Pioppi diet involves no starchy carbs, nor sugar and encourages people instead to eat foods like eggs, cheese and full fat dairy products, Jane Clarke from Nourish explains. 

    Vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil and fish are all recommended as well, along with smaller amounts of meat and foods which contain high saturated fats, salt and sugar. 

    The combination of these foods makes the Pioppi diet one of the healthiest out there, Jane says. ‘As reported by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), this diet is also one of the healthiest as it helps to lower the risk of almost every disease including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. This diet is also very satiating, meaning you crave less food which also helps to stabilise blood sugar levels and mood.’ 

    How does this diet help with weight loss?

    Gareth Thomas at Maximuscle says that limiting or getting rid of one food group, carbohydrates in this case, will have a profound effect on your diet and body – especially if it’s a dominant part of your diet. As he explains, “Take away 60 per cent or more of your diet and weight loss is going to occur. 

    “Of course adding in fat, being a more calorie dense nutrient, will help to replace the deficit. The likelihood is that you will not replace the calories omitted and you will still be in a calorie deficit. If nothing else, this is an interruption of your normal, a chance to change both your physical diet, but also how you think about food. 

    “As declared by the diet founders, any diet restricted in carbohydrate will improve insulin sensitivity, moderate your blood glucose response and encourage the body to burn fat.” 

    Lee Chambers is an Environmental Psychologist and Performance Nutritionist. He agrees, “These diets can improve insulin sensitivity, and by nature of food choices increase protein intake, which also has an impact on both initial weight loss, and longer term consistency.” 

    But he warns, “While the evidence presents a positive picture, we must always be mindful that we are all unique and remain open minded as we explore what work nutritionally for us from both a health perspective and a lifestyle perspective.”

    Why is the Pioppi diet good for those with type 2 diabetes?

    If you are diabetic, you’ll already know that what you eat can have a serious impact on your diet.

    The Pioppi Diet works for those who have diabetes as Nutritionist Resource member Sonal Shah explains, “A diabetic has to control their blood sugar levels and one way [to do this] is by reducing and watching their refined carb intake, which causes fluctuations in blood sugar levels as a result of the hormone insulin.

    “For diabetics consuming a diet rich in fats avoids the blood sugar yo yo’s as zero insulin is released with a diet rich in fats. For type 2 diabetics, it allows the organ that releases insulin called the pancreas to rest and the individual feels better and more satisfied as fats take longer to break down than carbs.”

    Is the diet sustainable in the long term?

    “These diets are certainly sustainable in the long term for some individuals.” Lee Chambers says, “But more than a diet, it should be a flexible lifestyle choice, and the nutritional value of carbohydrates and fibre considered. Some people find it much easier to stay consistent and feel better overall, while some individuals find upping their carbohydrate intake beneficial to how they operate. 

    “With nutrition being such a young science, we are still learning, and it’s certainly not the answer for everyone. It is something that is worth experimenting with to see if it resonates with you.”