Is the Pioppi diet right for you? A dietitian explains

A lifestyle diet to make you healthier rather than lose weight is the latest super-trendy way to eat. Dietitian Susie Burrell explains.

The Pioppi Diet is an eating plan with a difference. Rather than being a diet for weight loss or muscle growth, it’s designed to make you healthier and live longer. Here’s where it comes from and how you can implement it.

What is it?

Developed by UK cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, the 21-day program is based on the diets of the people of Pioppi, a village in southern Italy home to some of the healthiest people in the world.

Instead of counting calories, the Pioppi diet encourages you to eat as much of the recommended healthy food options as you need to feel satisfied in three meals per day.

Snacking is not encouraged, and dieters are required to eliminate all sugar from their diet. It’s also suggests that followers cut out all processed carbohydrates, bread, rice and pasta for the first two weeks of the plan.

You can enjoy plenty of healthy fat-filled olive oil — up to four tablespoons per day — as well as a serve of nuts. There are no restrictions on your fat intake and you can enjoy butter, cheese and yoghurt, as well as legumes, fruit and vegetables to your heart’s content, as long as they’re part of your three main meals.

The final part of the plan is a weekly one-day fast, with followers fasting from dinner till dinner on one day of each week in order to reap the benefits associated with intermittent fasting.

Lifestyle changes

The Pioppi Diet has a heavy focus on lifestyle as well as food. Sleep is a key focus, with at least 7 hours each night encouraged.

In terms of exercise, only general movement of about 30 minutes each day, such as walking, is all that’s required.

You’re encouraged to share your meals with others, and that they’re eaten slowly and savoured.

These suggestions are all to help replicate the southern Italian lifestyle, where life is enjoyed a little more slowly.

Does it work?

The Mediterranean diet has strong scientific evidence to support its positive health outcomes, and the Pioppi Diet is simply a very specific version of this. Important health markers like blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels are all known to benefit from a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in antioxidants and low in saturated fat and processed foods.

Naturally, eating healthier meals and reducing sugar and refined carb intake will lead to weight loss for many, but it’s not guaranteed without calorie control.

With some novel aspects including a weekly fast, the Pioppi diet has earnt a following, but its principles are fairly basic: eat regular meals, load up on fresh food and move more regularly.