She’s far too nice, and too English, to brag, but then it soon becomes clear that the nutritionist Petronella Ravenshear doesn’t need to. She has the facts and figures that will do the bragging for her, file upon file of body composition measurements from (anonymous) clients, which bear testimony to dramatic – and long-lasting – weight-loss.
Ravenshear, 56, specialises in a German nutritional programme called Metabolic Balance, which came to Britain in 2008 and is designed to re-set your hormone levels, particularly insulin, in order to regulate fat storage. ''We are all creating too much insulin, because we eat the wrong foods, and we eat too regularly. Insulin is a storage hormone that stops us accessing our fat stores. Keep insulin levels low and you create more glucagon, which tells the liver to start burning fat for energy.”
Key to the success of the programme is a blood test, which determines which foodstuffs work best with your body chemistry. Also important is that – wait for it – you give up aerobic exercise until you reach your target weight. “When clients exercise too soon the fat burning stops. Their body needs energy too fast to be able to burn body fat.”
This, and much else about MB, defies belief. I gained two kilos of lean muscle in two non-exercising weeks, for example (and lost the equivalent in fat). It’s all evidence of how far the mainstream has to go in fully understanding how food and exercise affect the body. Ravenshear, who joins Stella as a regular contributor next week, laughs that much about the way MB works is indeed “mysterious”. But the remarkable results are incontrovertible.
What is it?
Metabolic Balance is a three-month programme that re-sets your metabolism and hormone levels, particularly insulin, in order to enable your body to reach its natural weight.
A blood test shows which foods are best suited to your personal biochemistry and this determines your eating plan. Key features include leaving a five-hour gap between meals and not mixing protein sources. There is no fat in the first two weeks.
What is it good for?
Depending on the amount of weight a client has to lose, the first two to three weeks can result in a stone or more in weight loss. Significantly, this is not water or lean muscle loss, as with many diets, but fat. (Clients’ body composition is measured on a weekly basis.) The diet also increases metabolic rate, rather than decreases it, as happens with many other diets.
How did it start?
The programme was developed by Dr Wolf Funfack, a German expert in nutritional medicine, and food scientist Silvia Bürkle in 2002. Dissatisfied with the options for long-term weight-loss, they decided a balanced metabolism was the key.
Who’s a believer?
Boy George is perhaps the most famous MB success story. Ravenshear herself has coached assorted fashionistas, including Jemma Kidd.