Shape Up Britain volunteer Chris Shutt used to snore the night away on a regular basis — though he was blissfully unaware of it himself.

The same could not be said, however, for his long-suffering partner Liz, 51.

‘Liz tells me that she’d often have to nudge me awake at night so I could turn over,’ he confesses.

But fortunately for both Chris and Liz, restless nights are becoming a thing of the past after Chris lost 1st 10lb on my Fast 800 diet in just eight weeks.

As I discovered, the size of your neck is a good indicator of whether you snore. If you are a man with a neck size of 17in or more, you will almost certainly be a snorer. For women, it is 16in or more

‘Liz is now happy to report that I’ve stopped snoring,’ says the 61-year-old engineer from Sheffield. 

‘And I’ve noticed that my sleep quality is better. I’m not waking up as groggy in the mornings.’

Chris was one of 30 volunteers from two communities at opposite ends of the country who jumped at the chance to overhaul their weight and health in a ground-breaking experiment for our Shape Up Britain challenge.

In total, they lost an astonishing 39st 8lb and 9ft 8in from once bulging waistlines. 

Chris alone shed 5in from his middle, but it’s his new neck measurement which proved life-changing once his head hit the pillow. In eight weeks, he lost an inch off his neck, which went from 17in to 16in.

As I discovered, the size of your neck is a good indicator of whether you snore. If you are a man with a neck size of 17in or more, you will almost certainly be a snorer. For women, it is 16in or more.

That’s because fat around your neck narrows your airway, which then partially collapses and vibrates when you are asleep, making that loud snoring sound.

Before I slimmed down, my snoring could be heard all over the house, and I had a neck measurement of just under 17in.

At the time I didn’t think much of it, but looking back I realise it was a clear sign that I was overweight, and unhealthily so as it turns out.

I’d been putting on weight gradually from my mid-20s to my mid-50s, but I didn’t think it was a real problem because I didn’t look particularly overweight. So when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2012, I was shocked and horrified; I hadn’t seen it coming.

But it turned out that my slightly flabby tummy meant I was carrying a lot of visceral fat (the unhealthiest type), which doesn’t just sit around your waist but also clogs up your liver and pancreas, and is linked to an increased risk of serious diseases.

This is partly because visceral fat behaves in a metabolically different way from the type of fat you can see — for instance, that on your thighs — as we saw earlier this week. In particular, it affects the effectiveness of your immune system, making it harder for your body to deal with attacks from viruses such as Covid-19.

Unwilling to treat my diabetes with medication, I decided to change my lifestyle. I discovered intermittent fasting, lost 1½ st — and got rid of my diabetes. (This also led, in time, to me developing the Fast 800 diet).

When I lost weight, my snoring stopped, too, much to my wife Clare’s relief.

Nightcap will disrupt sleep

Drinking alcohol before bedtime interferes with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep — the most mentally restorative phase — causing you to wake early.

Several of our volunteers indulged in a few extra glasses in lockdown, and were desperate to break the cycle. ‘I became anxious about going to bed,’ says Rachel McGarty, a 51-year-old teacher from Rotherham.

But after swapping ‘a bottle of wine three nights a week’ for soda water with lemon and following the Fast 800 diet, she’s lost 1 ½ stone. ‘Now I’m waking up feeling refreshed,’ she says.

‘The plan has made such a difference to my sleep,’ says 67-year-old Jackie Mosley, from Chudleigh, Devon, who lost 11 lb. ‘I used to wake up at 2am. Now I sleep from 10.45pm to 7am.’

Her neighbour Victoria Bateman, 35, who works in hospitality and lost 1st 1lb, agrees: ‘I’d never slept straight for eight hours before — it’s incredible!’

There’s evidence that nutrients in a Mediterranean-style diet feed the good bacteria in your gut, which help improve your mood and relax you before bed.

Snoring affects both men and women, though it is more common in men as they tend to store excess weight around their necks. This constricts their airway at night, when they’re asleep and their body is relaxed.

It can also lead to a far more dangerous condition called sleep apnoea, where you stop breathing for short periods of time while you’re still asleep.

Often people with sleep apnoea don’t even know they have it — though symptoms include feeling ‘groggy’ (as Chris put it), difficulty concentrating and a dry mouth the next day.

Untreated, it can also lead to a higher risk of serious conditions, including heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

In Devon, another of our Shape Up Britain volunteers Stephen Brown, a 43-year-old general manager of a holiday park, and his wife Kelly are also enjoying the novelty of silent nights now he’s lost weight.

‘Now I sleep so well — and my wife says I no longer snore which can only be good for marital harmony,’ Stephen says, after he, too, lost an inch off his neck, which went from 15in to 14in.

Snoring was not the only sleep problem for our plucky volunteers —several were also sleeping badly due to anxiety and low mood.

Anyone who’s suffered the misery of poor sleep knows how debilitating this can be — and lockdown was a low point for many of us.

A number of our volunteers found themselves trapped in an unhappy pattern of poor sleep fuelled by snacking on cakes and biscuits and grabbing unhealthy ready meals, plus a lack of exercise.

Although it is tempting to have a late-night snack, this is a bad idea because your body will find it harder to process food late at night.

Eating before you go to bed means your body has to start up the whole business of digestion just as you want everything to calm down and get ready for sleep. Ideally, you want to stop eating three hours before bedtime.

Today’s recipes are suggestions for suppers that are nutritious but not too heavy. There are also some ideas for puddings which are not too sweet. The important thing is that the balance of nutrients should ensure longer, deeper sleep.

As our volunteers discovered, a low-carb Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruit, vegetables, legumes, good fats and protein has the extra benefit of offering a more restful night’s sleep.

‘Life-changing’, ‘a complete shift in lifestyle’ and ‘a revelation’; these are just some of the many compliments our volunteers had for our recipes and our challenge.

We hope that their stories, and our mouth-watering series, have inspired you to join them in transforming your own weight and health.

If you make a start today, in just eight weeks’ time you too could be slimmer, fitter and sleeping more soundly for the first time in years.

The Fast 800 challenge

Our volunteers took part in the Fast 800 online diet programme, which provides recipes, advice, exercise plans and access to online coaching. They were also given Fast 800 shakes to complement the recipes.

Before they began, they were given comprehensive assessments at Bupa Health Clinics to check blood pressure, diabetes risk, heart rhythm screening, lipid profile, weight and body mass index, for instance. 

They were then reassessed after eight weeks. Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, medical director of Bupa Health Clinics, says the Daily Mail volunteers’ weight loss was ‘impressive’ but stressed they needed to keep up their new habits for the best results. 

Go to thefast800.com for the online plan. For information on health assessments, visit bupa.co.uk.

Goat’s Cheese & Olive Salad 

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: Nil

Calories per serving: 284 

 Serves 2

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 cos lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 10g black, pitted olives
  • ¼ red onion, sliced
  • 70g goat’s cheese, crumbled

Make the dressing by combining the oil and lemon with salt and pepper in a jar with a screw-top lid. 

Shake and set aside. Build salads in two bowls, starting with a base of lettuce. 

Add the cucumber, tomato, olives and onion, then crumble in the goat’s cheese. Pour over the dressing and enjoy.

Goat’s Cheese & Olive Salad

Goat’s Cheese & Olive Salad

Courgette Fritters

Prep time: 6 minutes + 30 to dehydrate courgette

Cook time: 6 minutes

Calories per serving: 335

Serves 2

  • 2 courgettes (approx. 220g), grated
  • Sea salt
  • 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • 50g Parmesan cheese or a vegetarian hard cheese, grated
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Place the grated courgette into a colander and sprinkle with a little salt. 

Allow it to sit for 30 minutes and then squeeze out any excess moisture by wringing the grated courgette in a tea towel. Remove as much moisture as possible.

Place the egg, Parmesan, spring onions, garlic and dried herbs into a bowl and mix with the courgette. Combine well. 

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add tablespoons of the courgette mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes, before turning them over and cooking for another 2-3 minutes on the other side, until golden. You may need to do this in batches.

Divide across two plates and serve warm.

Courgette Fritters

Courgette Fritters

Baked Sesame Tofu Bowl

Prep time: 5 minutes + 20 marinating time

Cook time: 15 minutes

Calories per serving: 274

Serves 2

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tamari sauce
  • 100g firm tofu, cubed
  • ¼ head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp plain full-fat Greek yoghurt
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 50g rocket
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • ½ x 400 g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4. Combine garlic and tamari in a bowl and marinade tofu for 20 minutes. 

Place tofu on a baking tray with the broccoli florets, pour over any remaining marinade and sprinkle over sesame seeds. Bake for about 10-15 minutes until tofu is turning golden. 

Make the dressing by combining the tahini, yoghurt and lemon juice and season to taste. 

Assemble your salad in two bowls with half portions of the rocket, cucumber, avocado and chickpeas, topped with half the tofu, broccoli and dressing.

Baked Sesame Tofu Bowl

Baked Sesame Tofu Bowl

Healthy Vegetarian Lasagne

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes

Calories per serving: 351 

Serves 2

  • 2 aubergines, sliced into 1cm thick rounds
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • ½ x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 150g ricotta cheese
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, grated
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • 25g vegetarian hard cheese, grated
  • Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
Healthy Vegetarian Lasagne

Healthy Vegetarian Lasagne

Preheat oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4. Place baking paper over a baking tray and arrange aubergine slices in a layer on top. Brush the slices with 1 tbsp of olive oil on both sides. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, turning halfway.

Meanwhile, place a saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil, onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Add the chopped tomatoes, chilli flakes and apple cider vinegar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Place the ricotta cheese, nutmeg and two-thirds of the basil in a bowl and mash with a fork to combine.

Arrange a layer of aubergine at the bottom of an oven-proof baking dish (use about a third of the aubergine). Spread a third of the tomato and onion mixture over the aubergine. 

Cover with half of the ricotta cheese mix. Repeat the aubergine/sauce/cheese layer again. 

Top the second layer with the remaining aubergine and cover with the remaining sauce. 

Sprinkle over the hard cheese and remaining basil leaves. Bake for 20 minutes. Garnish with the cherry tomatoes. Divide into two and serve.

Spiced Dhal 

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Calories per serving: 300

Serves 2

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2cm root ginger, grated
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground garam masala
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 120g dry red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 80g spinach leaves
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro)

Heat a pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, ginger and onion and cook for 3 minutes, or until the onion turns soft.

Once the onion has softened, add the turmeric, garam masala, and chilli flakes and cook until fragrant. Use a splash of water to stop the mix sticking and cook down again. 

Add lentils to the pot with 2 cups of water and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the dhal has thickened and the lentils have softened and are cooked through. 

Add a splash more water if they need to cook for longer. Stir through the spinach and season to taste.

Divide the mixture over two plates, then squeeze some lemon over your meal and top with fresh coriander.

Cook’s Tip: Parmesan cheese contains rennet and is not vegetarian. Instead, use a hard cheese made with plant-based rennet.

Spiced Dhal

Spiced Dhal

Vegetarian Mexican Hash

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Calories per serving: 337

Serves 1

  • ¼ red chilli, cut lengthways and deseeded
  • ½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 100g button mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ½ tsp Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ x 400g tin black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 50g firm tofu, cubed
  • ½ avocado, chopped
  • ½ lime, sliced into wedges

Slice half the chilli into strips and set aside. Finely chop the other half. Put the olive oil into a pan and set over medium heat.

Fry the mushrooms for about 5 minutes or until golden. Add the chopped chilli, garlic, Cajun seasoning and black beans and heat for a further 5 minutes, or until mixture is warmed through.

Remove and set aside. Using the same frying pan with the residual oil, fry the tofu until it is cooked to your liking.

Serve the mushroom and bean mixture in a bowl and top with the tofu, chopped avocado and sliced chilli. Serve with lime wedges and enjoy.

Vegetarian Mexican Hash

Vegetarian Mexican Hash

Red Pepper & Three Cheese Mini Quiches

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 12 minutes

Calories per serving: 284

Serves 2

  • ½ red pepper, finely diced
  • 30g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 30g Parmesan or vegetarian hard cheese, grated
  • 40g full-fat cottage cheese
  • 4 large free-range eggs

Preheat oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4. Line or oil four wells in a muffin tray.

Divide diced red pepper among the tart wells and top with Parmesan and cheddar cheese.

Whisk the cottage cheese with the eggs. Season to taste. Evenly pour the mixture into the tart wells. Use a fork to gently mix in the egg mixture.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until quiches are set and starting to brown. They will puff up when they cook and settle down as they cool. 

Serve two quiches warm on their own, or with a crunchy green salad. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days.

Red Pepper & Three Cheese Mini Quiches

Red Pepper & Three Cheese Mini Quiches

Blueberry & Almond Yoghurt 

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: Nil

Calories per serving: 282

Serves 1

  • 100g plain full-fat Greek yoghurt
  • 10g chia seeds
  • 10g almonds, chopped
  • 100g blueberries

Put the yoghurt in a bowl and stir through the chia seeds. Top with almonds and blueberries to serve.

Chocolate Chia Porridge

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 8-10 minutes

Calories per serving: 180 

Serves 1

  • 25g rolled oats
  • ½ tbsp cacao powder
  • 10g chia seedsl 100ml unsweetened almond milkl 25g plain full-fat Greek yoghurt

Place the oats, cacao, chia seeds and almond milk in a small pan with 75ml water and slowly bring to the boil, stirring frequently. 

Simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until you have a smooth, creamy porridge.

Stir in the yoghurt and serve. 

Berry Yoghurt with Nuts & Seeds

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: Nil 

Calories per serving: 221 

Serves 1

  • 100g plain full-fat Greek yoghurt
  • 50g berries
  • 10g almonds
  • 10g pumpkin seeds
  • 5g chia seeds
  • ½ tbsp shredded coconut

Blend or mix yoghurt and berries together. Serve topped with the nuts, seeds, and coconut.

Waking up after an unbroken 8 hours was just fabulous

Victoria Bateman, 35, works in hospitality management. She is married to Kieron, 32, and the couple have one son, Stanley, eight. They live in Chudleigh, Devon.

Although I found the first four days of following the Fast 800 programme tough, by day ten I’d adapted and was sleeping better.

When you are used to broken nights, it’s the most incredible thing to sleep for a straight eight hours. That had never happened before and it felt great.

Watch Dr Mosley

Missed our exclusive Q&A with Dr Michael Mosley last night? You can watch the whole event at mailplus.co.uk/events

I never wanted to be that person who could only live in leggings. But when you are big, tailored clothes, fitted dresses and nice jeans can feel so uncomfortable, even if you can get them in your size, that you just stop bothering.

There’s a lovely, blue lace dress in my wardrobe which I bought from French Connection about 15 years ago when I was a size 12 — and when I started the plan, that became an emblem. I am determined to get back into it.

Aside from wanting to look nice, I have medical concerns about my weight.

I suffer from a condition called sinus tachycardia which causes an abnormally high resting heart rate.

Although doctors haven’t said it is serious, it’s very uncomfortable when your heart suddenly starts pounding wildly for no apparent reason. I’ve been taking beta blockers to control it.

The astonishing thing is, I haven’t had any episodes of racing heart since losing weight — so I haven’t had to take any medication, which feels so uplifting. Have I cured myself? It’s incredible to think so.

I’ve also found my mood has improved and I wonder if the fresh food I am now eating has played a part.

As I was doing the Fast 800 online programme for my husband, we could plan what we were going to eat each day at the start of the week.

That really helps you to resist temptation and not grab something unhealthy for supper.

The recipes don’t involve loads of ingredients, which I like. 

Take the tomato and cannelloni bean soup — so simple to put together but so filling and satisfying. In fact, I’d often take it into work for lunch.

As for that French Connection dress, I’m almost there!

Recipes taken from thefast800.com online programme followed by our volunteers. The Fast 800 Recipe Book: Low-carb, Mediterranean style recipes for intermittent fasting and longterm health, by Dr Clare Bailey and Justine Pattison, foreword by Dr Michael Mosley (Short Books, £16.99)