Obesity specialist Dr Rachel Batterham reveals how she’s staying fit in lockdown


Dr Rachel Batterham, 49, is Professor of Obesity, Diabetes and Endocrinology at University College London.  She lives in Hampstead, London with her two children, Joshua, nine and Alex, ten.

Back in 1999, I was seeing lots of people with type 2 diabetes and weight problems. They would constantly lose weight then put it back on. It made me eager to understand how to keep weight off, so I set up obesity clinical services at UCL in 2007. Over the last decade, we’ve looked into the effects of protein, exercise and weight and as well as how the brain responds to eating and diets. It’s taught me a lot about what works for weight loss.

My dieting principles: low-carb eating and no breakfast

Your genes influence about 70 per cent of your chances of becoming overweight.  So, while our biology is set up to make us want to eat more high energy foods, if you have a genetic predisposition and an environment where high energy food is available, you’re more likely to get fat. Conversely, thin people have genes that protect them from getting fat.  I don’t have the fat gene so I don’t have a sweet tooth or a problem with emotional eating. I’m not interested in food like that. But I still eat in a way I know has been shown to work.

I have a low-carb diet and focus on protein — usually fish or chicken — and vegetables at every meal. I don’t eat any bread, pasta, rice or potatoes. We have looked at proteins, fats and carbohydrates and shown that protein suppresses appetite more than carbs or fats.  I don’t eat breakfast because I’m not hungry in the morning — we should never be eating in the absence of hunger.

My workout week: no gym required for high activity

I have never been a gym goer.  Having young children and a busy job I incorporate exercise into my day. Normally I would make sure I walk 15,000 steps each day by walking up and down the stairs at the tube and getting up every hour and doing 250 steps (about five minutes walking).  I also do at least 30 minutes continuous very brisk walking everyday for my heart and lung health which also boosts the immune system. I try and do some resistance work, such as sit ups and back extensions, and am now doing online fitness videos with the boys so we all get an hour of exercise daily. They’re both very good at press-ups. I’ve bought a skipping rope and am trying to do 20-30 minutes of skipping daily too.



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