Sarah, Duchess of York is a dedicated fan of Gianluca Mech's ketogenic approach to weight loss. In an exclusive report in this week's issue of HELLO! magazine, the mother-of-two opens up about fighting her weight demons while Gianluca tells us the key to the healthy diet that has also improved her sleep and fitness.
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"I have known what it's like to struggle with weight since the age of 12, when my parents' marriage ended and I blamed myself," Sarah said. "I started comfort eating and piled on the pounds and this carried on into my adult life. Food had become my addiction and every time things got difficult, I ate to compensate.
"Headlines such as 'The Duchess of Pork' made things worse and the cycle continued.
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"I've tried many different diets over the years, but when I heard about Gianluca Mech's work, I decided to visit the University of Padua, one of Europe's oldest seats of learning, where the research for the diet is carried out. I was impressed by what I heard, and the scientific evidence there is to show the benefits of a ketogenic diet and variants of it.
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"I don't think there's a one-diet-fits-all approach and every one of us should eat what suits us at different stages of our life. I have chosen to follow this diet for the last 18 months and I know, along with exercise and sleep, my weight and health have improved dramatically."
Gianluca added: "I first met Sarah at the airport in New York. She was on her way back from an event with Michelle Obama, and I had been at one with Ivana Trump, both focused on combating obesity.
"This was before the pandemic, and she was greeting everyone, shaking hands. She was very down to earth, so I approached her and told her we have friends in common.
"Some news had just come out about the work of British doctors on the importance of choosing low-glycaemic [index] food. I showed it to her and she said: 'That's all very well, but it's easier said than done.' And I told her that in Italy we already had low-glycaemic brioche, pizza.
"She didn't believe it, so we invited her to visit the University of Padua. She's someone who's very interested in research. Her reaction was: 'Good heavens!' The Duchess knows everything there is to know about slimming. And she decided to follow our diet. She said: 'This is something that's good for people.'
"She was looking for a diet that was effective but healthy, too. Whereas a lot of people see diet as being about beauty, she sees it as being about health."
The Duchess has followed Gianluca Mech's diet for the past 18 months
"Like my father and myself, the Duchess has a slow metabolism. That would have been an advantage for us 70 or so years ago, when the problem was finding enough to eat, not losing weight. In those days, people with fast metabolisms would die of hunger, while those with slow metabolisms survived. These days, we're surrounded by high-calorie foods, so those with faster metabolisms do best.
"Like everyone, she had a doctor assessing her details, ailments, any medicines being taken, etc. Once the doctor says okay, it's a matter of someone's specific needs and tastes.
"She likes savoury food more than sweet, so she leant towards bread, pasta and pizza. My diet involves eating things you can't normally eat on a ketogenic diet, such as bread, biscuits and desserts. If we don't consume carbohydrates, we force the body to burn fat.
"Ketosis is the process where our bodies turn fat into ketones, using those for energy instead of carbs. Diets based on this, known as ketogenic diets, have some great advantages: they make you feel stronger, in mind as well as body, and you don't feel hungry.
Gianluca's diet makes you feel stronger and less hungry
"I come from a long line of herbalists. We have a method for extracting plant essences and preserving them in liquid form that doesn't involve adding sugar, alcohol or preservatives, but still stops fermentation. It's been a family secret since 1500. So I decided to use plants to control the ketosis process. My concept was for a diet that combines proteins with certain plants which help the body to digest them, known as proteolytic plants. This means the body can better assimilate amino acids – the building blocks of the proteins we consume. Like this, we achieved a healthy, 'clean' ketogenic diet, that doesn't require eating so much protein.
"Our patent name is Tisanoreica, combining the words tisane and reiki, which means 'everything flows'. We chose it because the diet is designed to give you back your health by purifying the body. And the diet is still advisable even in Covid times because it's anti-inflammatory, and chronic inflammation makes the immune system less efficient.
"Also, being overweight is a serious risk with Covid. Sarah seems very happy to me. But as she herself has said to me: 'Gianluca, you have to look for happiness inside yourself, not outside.' I think she's satisfied with the diet, which offers pleasure without sin. "She can eat a tiramisu without feeling guilty."
For more information on Gianluca's work visit gianlucamech.com
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