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The Hairy Bikers turn Hairy Dieters

The Hairy Bikers are known for their love of cooking real food for real people with dishes big on flavour and calories – and it’s taken its toll on their bodies.

They’re now back on our screens and getting the help of Newcastle University experts to lose the pounds but they’re not prepared to live on salads - or compromise on taste.

Si King and Dave Myers join forces with the men and women of Britain to find ways of creating food that satisfies their lust for tasty cooking but answers the demands of the University’s experts who want them to take better care of themselves.

Newcastle University's metabolism expert Professor Roy Taylor and nutritionist Professor Ashley Adamson advise, cajole and nurture the bikers over six months – and the results can be seen in the four part series Hairy Dieters: How to love food and lose weight on BBC 2 starting Thursday 2nd August, 8pm.

Clips of the programme – including how the Bikers reacted to Professor Ashley Adamson’s assesment of their diets can be seen on the BBC Hairy Dieters website.


Newcastle University’s Professor Roy Taylor took to his own bike – this time using pedal power – along with Si and Dave to help them lose weight.  He describes what it has been like filming over the last 6 months:

The Hairy Bikers came to me for help after our research on reversing type 2 diabetes hit the headlines last summer. That work depended on bringing about major weight loss. The Hairy Bikers felt that they had put on far too much weight and wanted help to lose it in the way that our research volunteers had done. They also wanted measurement of just how much fat there was to shift. Then they wanted an explanation of what was going on in their bodies during the weight loss.

We were able to use our research tests to measure how much fat was in the body, and especially how much was in the dangerous area - inside the tummy cavity and in the organs. We were able to give targets of weight loss for each of them. We also gave them straightforward advice about how to lose this amount of weight. The need to increase daily physical activity was also explained.

The great thing is for anyone, and for anyone watching the programme, they can do the same to lose weight – however, there is one vital factor. That is the determination to succeed.

Si and Dave were really determined to lose the amount of weight necessary for them to regain fitness and health. Anyone can do it if they really are determined. It is not easy, but sticking consistently to the fact that you must not eat when you feel peckish - day in, day out - then weight will fall off. Just eat half the amount you do at present. Use a smaller plate. Eat slowly and enjoy every mouthful. Be prepared to put up with hunger. Do you really, really want to get down to your target weight or are you kidding yourself?

It’s really good that the Hairy Bikers are advocating a healthier diet as people will listen to them in a way that they will not listen to yet another government health warning. And not only are they  advocating a healthier diet - they have demonstrated that they can stick with it.

They really have put some muscle behind the most important point - that it is the total amount of calories eaten rather than any fancy detail about types of food that matters. I am really looking forward to seeing their new cookbook which will give recipes and ideas on how to make weight control as enjoyable as possible.

Si and Dave are fantastic, just the blokes with whom it would be a pleasure to have a pint - or better still, go for a bike ride! They are great fun to be with, affable and ready to have a laugh with anyone. You get just what it seems to say on the tin and there was certainly a buzz around the Campus for Ageing and Vitality every time they came to film with us.

When out and about filming, it was striking that so many people would come up to them to say how much they enjoyed their programmes. Si and Dave took time to talk with each of them. The North East and the North West can be very proud of them.

Professor Ashley Adamson, a nutritionist at Newcastle University advised the Bikers on their diets and helped them learn what a healthy diet – and portion size –  looks like, and while it was a challenge she’s proud of what they’ve achieved as she explains:

Having watched some of their programmes I knew that the boys have wide appeal and a huge following – I also knew they loved to eat!  Si and Dave are northern men who enjoy their food and recognised they were overweight …….and they were serious about their health and about losing weight.

So I thought this seemed like a real opportunity to get a very important message out there.

There are many men like Si and Dave.  More than 60% of men overweight and yet most programmes about weight loss and health involve women. Over 90% of people attending weight loss groups are women but many men need to lose weight too.

Working with the bikers was a privilege as well as being really rewarding and fantastic fun. They are really nice, genuine guys.  They had set themselves an enormous challenge – and after seeing their food diaries back in April I wondered if this was too big a challenge but they proved me wrong.

Between April and July I met them at venues throughout Newcastle and even drove over to the Lakes to ‘spy’ on their pub meal choice. Wherever I met the bikers people were keen to talk with them - they cheerfully had photos taken and signed books with all. 

Si and Dave are just like they appear on TV – relaxed and great fun but they were also serious about their health. They listened and acted on advice and they have achieved fantastic weight loss and feel so much better for it. They did this without any crazy diet but with real healthy food and as they lost weight, increasing their activity. They are both determined there is no going back.  I am sure they will inspire many others to take up the challenge. Well done guys!

There’ll be regular updates from our experts on the Hairy Dieters progress on the BBC website.

Banner picture features Dave and Si being weighed at Grainger Market, Newcastle and small image above features Dave and Si having their body composition measured at Newcastle University.Credits:BBC/Optomen/Andrew Hayes-Watkins

Published: 31st July 2012