Our fitness challenge is hotting up as the end nears

As the City Fit Challenge nears its nail-biting conclusion, we check up on our intrepid participants

City A.M.’s City Fit Challenge – in partnership with Danio, Danone’s high protein yogurt of substance – is nearing its conclusion and our participants are giving it their all to see who can come out on top in the eyes of our health and nutrition experts. Three office workers have been fasting on the 5:2 diet – which limits your calorie intake to 600 for two days of the week – and undertaking a bespoke exercise regime in a bid to overhaul their fitness and wellbeing. Dietician and author Dr Sarah Schenker and personal trainer Christian Finn are impressed by the progress made by the trio in just three weeks – but who will be crowned the overall winner? Life&Style editor Steve Dinneen finds out how they are getting on.

Challenger one: Neil Somauroo, business owner

Age: 33
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 20 stone 7
Waist size (widest point): 51”
BMI: 34.4
Neil stopped smoking around 18 months ago and has “piled on” weight since. He travels a lot for work which makes it hard to get to the gym and eat healthy meals.

Neil’s diary:
I’d like to be able to tell you I’ve struggled a bit, but to be honest I’ve adapted really well to the new lifestyle. Of course, I get the odd hunger pang, but I have trained myself to get over it – having a glass of water helps. I’m now walking three miles a day and I’m running a bit, too. I have already taken my belt in a notch so it’s working.

Sarah’s analysis:
Neil is an interesting candidate for this challenge. He has really got into the exercise side of it so he has a large negative energy balance. This means it would be OK for him to eat more on his non-fasting days – even 2,700 calories instead of the recommended 2,000. But he’s not – he’s sticking to the guidelines, which shows how dedicated he is.

Christian’s analysis:
Neil’s progress is impressive, with the increase in exercise and the strict calorie limitation. If he can keep things at this level, then great, although he may find he needs to cut back slightly on the exercise after the month to make sure he can sustain the programme without finding himself getting exhausted during fasting days.

Challenger two: Jeremy Slattery, sales director, City A.M.

Age: 47
Height: 6’
Weight: 17 stone 6
Waist size (widest point): 40”
BMI: 33.49
Jeremy is sales director of City A.M. The job involves regular lunches with clients and media agencies. Otherwise, he enjoys healthy foods and an active lifestyle.

Jeremy’s diary:
The gym side of the challenge has been going very well – I’ve been doing strength training three times a week with lots of kettle bells. My fasting days aren’t proving a problem either, although I find myself getting irritable after the second day. The problem lies with my off-days – work and life commitments can get in the way.

Sarah’s analysis:
Jeremy over-did it a bit last week at the City A.M. awards so we agreed he would fast for an extra day this week. The 5:2 diet evolved from an alternate-day diet, so this is a legitimate way of catching up if you have slipped. Jeremy has changed his non-fasting days diet for the better, although he is taking a more casual approach than our other contestants.

Christian’s analysis:
Jeremy’s on the right track. The strength training we spoke about seems to be going really well. He had a bit of a blip last week and my suggestion to get back on the right track is to cut your calorie intake slightly the next week, rather than try to ratchet up the exercise – a meal out can be thousands of calories, which is a lot of hours in the gym.

Challenger three: Ryan Orton, IT recruitment manager

Age: 38
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 13 stone 7
Waist size (widest point): 39.2”
BMI: 29.9
A knee injury stopped Ryan playing football, and he has since gained weight. His long hours in the office give him little time to prepare freshly cooked food at home.

Ryan’s diary:
I’ve been fasting three days a week to give myself a bit of extra edge. I discussed it with Sarah and Christian and they agreed it’s a good way of coming closer to your ideal weight quicker. I’ve not had a drink since I started, which helps. Overall I feel far healthier, more alert and I’m sleeping better – I’m really enjoying it.

Sarah’s analysis:
Ryan has really got on top of the diet side of the challenge. Even on his off-days he’s only consuming around 1,300 calories, eating lots of high-protein, low calorie foods like the Danio yogurts. He has reported that his weight loss has slowed a bit, which is to be expected – you always lose it quickly at the start, so it’s nothing to worry about.

Christian’s analysis:
Ryan seems to be managing his calories very well, although I don’t think his calorie intake is sustainable over the long-term, especially if he’s increasing exercise on his non-fasting days. You can’t keep on burning the candle at both ends. After the challenge I would recommend increasing his calorie intake and keeping up the exercise.