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James Bond: Does 007 eat all the wrong things?

Daniel Craig as Bond in Skyfall, vodka martinis, and roast beef (Bond image copyright of 2012 Danjaq, LLC, United Artists Corporation, Columbia Pictures Industries)

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In 50 years of James Bond films we are left with no doubt about the hero's love of vodka martinis. In Ian Fleming's books Bond's passion for good food was also apparent. But could 007's diet really sustain his high-action lifestyle?

Bond is a true action man, with a high-energy job, and he needs to fuel the furnace.

Those fit and active on a similar level include royal marines, who get through up to 6,000 calories a day.

But does Bond eat enough of "the right stuff"?

It is 50 years since the first Bond film Dr No was released, and in the recent film Casino Royale, Bond's taste for caviar emphasises the character's world of luxury and fine dining.

But his passion for good food, described in sumptuous detail in Ian Fleming's novels, has never been fully translated in the movies.

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So what does he eat in the books?

"He's a great red meat eater," says Edward Biddulph, author of Licence to Cook, a book of recipes inspired by the Bond book series.

"Lamb especially, and beef."

Perhaps less familiar to most is his willingness to tuck in to a doner kebab, which pops up in the book From Russia with Love.

He also has an appetite for a curry in Goldfinger, which may seem strange to those whose love of a takeaway today sees them leaping on to the sofa rather than from a plane.

In fact, for Bond fans today, copying some of the meals the hero enjoys is much easier than it would have been in the 50s.

The first book was published in the post-World War II world, when some foods were still scarce and rationing was still in place.

"Pretty much all the food that's mentioned in the books is now pretty commonplace," says Mr Biddulph.

"Fleming himself said that he wanted to stimulate the readers' senses, and you know, he didn't just want to give these ordinary meals," says Mr Biddulph.

"I think he simply wanted to take his readers to experiences that they wouldn't normally have."

Daniel Craig as Bond in Skyfall (Bond image copyright of 2012 Danjaq, LLC, United Artists Corporation, Columbia Pictures Industries) Bond likes to eat curry and kebabs, as well as bacon and scrambled egg

Curries and kebabs aside, Bond certainly seems to favour rich foods.

Breakfast is Bond's favourite meal, says Mr Biddulph, and he ate a lot of scrambled eggs and bacon, a good option that would keep him going until lunchtime.

Catherine Collins from the British Dietetic Association says it's a good breakfast for a busy man.

"He's having a high protein breakfast that's rich in iron.

"Bacon isn't that high in fat. It's only if you keep the fat on the bacon that it's quite high… (and) scrambled eggs is a fairly low calorie way of cooking eggs."

Many of his meals while he's on missions in Jamaica are "quite rich with cream and milk", says Mr Biddulph.

James Bond book spines Ian Fleming's books depict a Bond with a passion for good food, particularly while abroad

But he also eats a lot of seafood on those trips, "especially at lunch; lobster, clams, crabs, that sort of thing", he says.

He can be exacting about what dishes he chooses, but the spy is also "quite adventurous" abroad.

"He tends to eat what the locals are having. He doesn't just stick with tried and tested," says Mr Biddulph.

Bond enjoys Turkish mutton stew while travelling in the country, and in Marseilles in France, he tucks into the regional delicacy bouillabaisse, a type of seafood stew.

But it is on such missions away from home that Bond "tends to eat a lot more of the wrong things", which means his eating style would not stand up to the modern idea of a healthy balanced one, explains Mr Biddulph.

"It's a very high protein diet and carbs don't seem to play a huge role," he says.

"First of all [Bond's diet is] a man diet," says Catherine Collins.

"Men like the more carnivorous approach.

"I think there's probably a literary emphasis [in the Bond books] on foods which are thought to be virile-inducing, if you like."

Fruit and vegetables only appear occasionally in the descriptions of Bond's meals.

"It could have been because Fleming might have thought vegetables were so mundane they weren't worth mentioning," explains Mr Biddulph.

Start Quote

It would probably be good for him to have a couple of alcohol-free days”

End Quote Catherine Collins Spokesperson, British Dietetic Association

In fact Bond's food pattern is "almost the opposite of what we ought to be eating", he says.

But Catherine Collins says that in reality, some of the meals Bond orders would probably contain "more vegetables and carbs than is acknowledged".

In both the films and books, Bond is depicted as having an impressive physique, but the diet "could well have sort of cholesterol-artery clogging tendencies," says Ms Collins.

However while a fit and active agent could get away with it, for Bond fans with more sedentary lifestyles "to eat in that way would not be particularly healthy", she says.

So would a real-life action-hero be advised to change his diet?

Catherine Collins says she would probably recommend more carbs, and "it would probably be good for him to have a couple of alcohol-free days".

That might be difficult for a man who accompanies every meal with alcohol, except breakfast, when he drinks black coffee.

"When he starts a meal, he probably has a vodka with a starter and then he goes on to wine, probably finished up with champagne," explains Edward Biddulph.

But Bond's regular drinking is "never excessive", says Ms Collins, and would be unlikely to cause much harm, or stop him from feeling too sluggish to perform his duties.

Bond's diet may be unbalanced, but all the protein in the meat and eggs he eats would actually suit the "high energy requirements" needed in his line of work, Ms Collins says.

Beef and lamb provide a rich source of iron and vitamin B12, which would help Bond's body recover quickly from "all those cuts and grazes he gets" and help "keep him mentally alert".

That iron content would be useful for Bond's energetic and varied love life too.

"He can run for miles it seems - vertically and horizontally," she says.

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