What Is The Pioppi Diet?

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Pioppi is a tiny fishing village in the south of Italy that has a cracking beach and a sea museum. It is also the spiritual home of the Mediterranean Diet and the inspiration for new book The Pioppi Diet by Dr Aseem Malhotra and Donal O’Neill, which aims to provide a simple 21-day lifestyle plan that the authors claim can transform your health forever.

This remarkable effect is achieved without drastically cutting calories or exercising every hour of the day. The Pioppi plan is based around avoiding added sugar and refined carbs, and instead building your diet around vegetables and fatty foods like oily fish and olive oil. The plan goes beyond your diet too, with recommended movements and stress-busting breathing exercises.

People will be talking about this book, so make sure you’re in the know. Here’s a bluffer’s guide to the key pillars of the 21-day Pioppi plan, as described in the book.

Eat More Of These

Vegetables, nuts and olive oil, for starters. The guide recommends five to seven portions of fibrous veg and low-sugar fruit per day, and at least five of these should be the former. The Pioppi plan also recommends two to four tablespoons of olive oil (with food – you don’t have to neck it) and a small handful of nuts every day. The Pioppi Diet is also big on oily fish like salmon and sardines (three portions a week as a minimum), eggs (ten a week; Pioppi chickens aren’t slackers), full-fat dairy, coconut oil and dark chocolate (30g a day).

Avoid These

Sugar. Steer clear of all added sugars. You can’t get around this by opting for honey either – it’s banned, along with syrups and fruit juices. Refined carbohydrates, especially those that are flour-based, also make The Pioppi Diet’s shitlist. That includes pasta, bread and rice – if you're having them at all they should be viewed as an occasional treat eaten in small portions. You should also avoid cooking with industrial seed oils like sunflower, canola and corn.

The Pioppi Diet also suggests sticking with the weekly 500g limit for red meat recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund, and focusing on unprocessed red meat when you do eat it.

Fast One Day A Week

Build one 24-hour fasting period into each week. The book advises starting this after dinner one night and skipping breakfast and lunch the next day, consuming only fluids in between. When fasting, the theory says, the body’s insulin levels drop and stored energy is burned off.

Don’t Break The Booze Guidelines

The NHS recommends drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, which allows you to enjoy a small glass of wine with dinner each day, just like the residents of Pioppi. Stick within those limits.

Move More

The Pioppi Diet stresses that you can’t overcome the damage caused by an unhealthy diet through exercise, but you should still be active. Aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking five times a week, avoid sitting still for longer than 45 minutes at a time, and spend as much time as you can outside and around nature. The book also provides a 21-day movement protocol of bodyweight exercises. Bodyweight exercises, you say? Click this way.

Sleep For Seven Hours A Night

Seven hours of snooze as a minimum, and reduce your exposure to blue light from phones and computers in the final two hours before bedtime. If you’ve got access to a gorgeous Mediterranean sunset, try looking at that instead.

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Breathing is an indisputably vital part of a healthy lifestyle and The Pioppi Diet recommends going beyond your regular respiration by doing short breathing exercises every day. Breathe in for five seconds and then breathe out for five seconds, focusing only on your breathing, for two minutes at a time. Do this four times a day.

Spend Time With Friends

The Pioppi Diet recommends increasing the time you spend with friends and family every week. What’s more, it suggests smiling and laughing more too. Sound advice.

Buy The Pioppi Diet on amazon.co.uk

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.