Running the country requires being fit as a fiddle – so for the two men competing for the top job in this year’s general election, it couldn’t be more important to look after their health.

However, Labour peer Peter Mandelson has ruffled feathers within his party today after suggesting leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, needs to ‘shed a few pounds’ ahead of his campaign to win over the electorate.

It’s not the first time Starmer’s health has been under the microscope – last year the Mail on Sunday reported his own frontbench had held discussions on whether or not they should stage an intervention on their leaders weight after claiming he had added ‘a few extra pounds’.

Despite such reports, the Labour leader does seem to lead a fairly healthy lifestyle, following a pescatarian diet and playing five-a-side football in North London whenever he can.

Similarly, the health of Rishi Sunak has come under scrutiny in recent months, after the prime minister revealed he carries out a diet of intermittent fasting and doesn’t eat a single thing on Mondays.

Sunak, a fan of Peloton, also set tongues wagging when he was reportedly spotted rocking up to a Taylor Swift-themed spin class in California last year – much to the surprise of other people booked onto the class.

But, policies aside, how does the prime minister shape up to the Labour leader in the fitness stakes? FEMAIL takes a closer look into their diets and exercise regimes to find out…

Exercise 

It’s clear the Prime Minister values an active lifestyle – and he has made many headlines for his various fitness pursuits.

Back when he was chancellor, Rishi revealed that he started his days with a 6am Peloton session to Britney Spears songs.

Mr Sunak’s favourite exercise instructor is Cody Rigsby, 36, a professional dancer from New York who describes himself as an ‘opinionated homosexual’ to his 1.3 million Instagram followers.

Rishi has been enamoured with the £1,750 Peloton, which requires a monthly membership, since he got one in 2021 – when sales of the modern stationary bike boomed by 172 per cent during lockdown.

It features a large touchscreen tablet fixed between the bike’s handlebars so users can join virtual exercise classes from across the world.

Mr Sunak said having his exercise routine punctuated with the dulcet tones of the American star’s pop tunes is ‘no bad thing’, according to The Times.

In February 2020, Rishi revealed taking on the role of the chancellor of the exchequer wreaked havoc on his routine, and while he would like to take part in the classes twice a week, he is unable to.

However, when possible Rishi would finish his workout before he saw his children in the morning and started work at 7.45am.

It is believed he may have picked up some of his Californian lifestyle habits when he lived in the sunshine state while studying at Stanford University and met his wife Akshata Murthy, 43.

Rishi also revealed he likes mixing up his workouts with treadmill runs or high intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions at a community leisure centre in Richmond, north Yorkshire.

Last May, he was snapped posing with a jogger after taking part in a 10km fun run.

The prime minister was among hundreds of runners taking part in a race in the North Yorkshire town of Northallerton, within his Richmond constituency.

But after the race, he was pictured standing next to ‘avid parkrunner’ Nick Dent, who said he outran the Prime Minister with a time of 47 minutes and 46 seconds in the ‘tough’ contest.

‘A tough Northallerton 10K but really pleased with a chip time of about 47:46 on an undulating course ~ and I also beat this guy…’ Mr Dent said in a caption to the picture posted on Twitter.

The runner’s victory over the prime minister came after Mr Sunak said: ‘I haven’t done any exercise in a long time, I’ve been a little bit busy, but I’m going to try and do it in under an hour. It’s great to have everyone here so thanks for coming.

Last August, Rishi took his family on what was thought to be their first holiday together in four years.

The PM maintained his fitness regime and was reported to attend a Swift-themed indoor cycling session during the family holiday.

Downing Street did not deny reports the PM  took part in a workout class in LA set to the Shake It Off singer’s music.

A SoulCycle participant said Mr Sunak was at the Swift-themed indoor session. Hannah Harmelin posted a video on TikTok saying she spotted the PM at the end of a 7am class in Santa Monica.

Asked if Mr Sunak was a ‘Swiftie’ – as fans of the mega-star are known – the PM’s official spokesman told reporters: ‘I’m not going to guide you away from it.’

While Rishi undertakes various forms of exercise on a daily basis, Keir keeps it simple with weekly football games. 

He’s regularly photographed on the pitch taking part in five-aside games with friends at Sunday league for Homerton Academicals in north London.

Engaging in the group sport was described as a ‘normal’ routine for Keir back in 2022 after he was ambushed by a mob of anti-Covid restriction demonstrators while leaving a five-aside match, according to The Independent.  

More recently, in January 2024, the Labour leader could be seen throwing his hands into the air after letting two balls slip past him as goalie.

And when he’s not on the pitch himself, he’s donning red and white to cheer on his beloved Arsenal.

While he’s a diehard Arsenal supporter, it’s not the only team Keir follows, and last August he called for the Lionesses to be given honours after their inspirational World Cup campaign.

The Labour leader demanded formal recognition for their efforts. He said: ‘The Lionesses have galvanised the whole nation through their historic achievement in becoming the first England team to make the World Cup final.

‘But they’ve also inspired a generation of women and girls to play football, take up sport, and to remove any doubt in their minds that they too can go all the way in their chosen field.

‘There’s no doubt that they should be recognised by the honours system.’

The leader of the Labour party also takes an interest in tennis, having watched Wimbledon live from the royal box in 2022.

The politician was spotted among the seats in Centre Court’s Royal Box, alongside his wife Victoria, on women’s semi-finals day.

As well as engaging in a public display of affection with his spouse, Sir Keir was also seen sharing jokes with fellow attendees.

Dietary requirements 

The leader of the Labour Party follows a pescatarian diet – and has done so for over 25 years, despite admitting he still pines for bacon sandwiches and a chicken curry.

So, why does he cut out meat? For health and environmental reasons. In a 2020 interview on Sky’s Ridge on Sunday, the Opposition Leader said: ‘I gave up [meat] as a matter of principle years ago on the basis that eating meat wasn’t the right thing for the body and the planet but I have to say, I miss meat.’

Asked what he specifically missed he looked wistful and replied: ‘Oh, bacon sandwiches, chicken curry, you name it, almost everything!’

The 61-year-old extended his diet onto his children and didn’t let them eat meat until they were 10 years old.

Speaking on the Table Manners Podcast, hosted by pop singer Jessie Ware and her mother Lennie, the Labour leader said he and his vegetarian wife Victoria did not have meat or fish in the house when they were raising their son and daughter.

Once their son turned ten, Keir and Victoria said he could ‘do what you like’, and he immediately started eating KFC and McDonald’s.

However, he told Jessie and Lennie that his daughter has still never eaten meat or fish.

It marks a clear shift from Keir’s diet growing up, a time when meat was a staple part of his diet with foods including ‘sausages, mash, meat, and vegetables’ making a regular appearance on the dinner table. 

Sir Keir has spoken previously about becoming vegetarian 25 years ago, before reintroducing fish to his diet.

He said he found avoiding seafood ‘too much’, but described his wife as a ‘proper vegetarian’.

‘I struggle with it because I love meat. I love it. If you give up fish or meat on a matter of principle you still hanker after it,’ he said.

The couple’s son is now aged 15, while their daughter is 12. Describing their parenting, Sir Keir said: ‘We don’t have meat or fish in the house, we don’t cook it, until they’re about 10 obviously they’re just eating with us.’

He added: ‘And then at the age of 10 we said, ‘you can do what you like’ and our boy said ‘great’, so the moment we go out there’s a Deliveroo for Kentucky Fried Chicken or McDonald’s.

‘So he’s taken full, sort of, liberty with the license to do what he likes.’ However, Sir Keir said his daughter ‘has never in her life tasted meat or fish’.

When Lennie Ware challenged Sir Keir that many vegetarians cook meat for their children, he replied: ‘We never did.’

The Labour leader also insisted the family has no issue if their son wants to order non-vegetarian meals when they eat out. ‘We’re not bothered by that,’ he said.

Meanwhile, Rishi takes a different stance when it comes to meat, eating all but beef due to his Hindu faith.

The 43-year-old’s position might come as a surprise following his mother-in-law’s devotion to pure vegetarianism – having even sparked a Twitter debate after revealing she takes her own food with her everywhere she goes.

Sudha Murty, 73, who claimed she is the reason for the British Prime Minister’s success, describes herself as a ‘pure vegetarian’ – meaning she does not even eat eggs.

On a popular food show called ‘Khaane Mein Kya Hai?’, roughly meaning ‘What’s for lunch/dinner?’, the mother and grandmother revealed that ‘one of my biggest fears is that the same spoon may have been used for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes’.

‘So, when I travel, I look for a pure vegetarian restaurant. And I carry an entire bag full of food,’ she said.

The remark quickly caused a storm on social media, with opinions divided between those criticising and supporting her.

Typical breakfast 

Rishi is said to opt for a healthy choice of Greek yogurt and blueberries for his breakfast each morning. 

But weekends are where the real breakfast magic happens in the Sunak household.

He told The Times: ‘We have a full cooked breakfast on Saturdays and on Sundays we alternate between pancakes and waffles… we do pancakes American-style, so the thin crispy bacon, blueberries, strawberries.’

And while the Prime Minister is often associated with a healthy lifestyle, he made waves online after claiming he enjoys a McDonald’s breakfast from time to time.

Rishi was mocked in 2022 after he claimed to always enjoy a McDonald’s breakfast wrap when out with his daughters – despite the item having not been on sale since March 2020.

The Tory leader was accused of a faux pas during a TV interview, in which he was quizzed about what he ordered when he recently visited a McDonald’s restaurant.

Appearing on ITV’s This morning , the former chancellor was asked the ‘killer question’ of what items he had chosen from the McDonald’s menu.

‘I was there at about I think, gosh, 7.45 in the morning or 7.30 – so it was not a burger and nuggets! I got breakfast,’ Mr Sunak replied. ‘I get a bacon roll with ketchup and the pancakes.’

Asked by show host Rochelle Humes if he had also ordered a hash brown, the Conservative MP added: ‘I didn’t yesterday but if I’m with my daughters then we get the wrap.

‘With my eldest daughter… if I’m with her, that wrap with the hash brown and everything in it is what we do.’

But aficionados of McDonald’s were quick to point out that the breakfast wrap hasn’t been on sale for nearly two-and-a-half years.

Meanwhile, Keir has caused surprise after revealing his breakfast go-to, but for a different reason.

The 61-year-old has kept his favourite breakfast foods relatively under wraps.

However, during a 2021 Labour Party conference, Keir was snapped holding a plate of breakfast foods after taking his pick from a buffet.

Keir walked round the buffet, but instead of piling eggs and pancakes on his plate like most tend to, he went for a much healthier choice, consisting of fruit, fish, and cheese.

In an image shared by The Times, Keir looked pleased with his choice, despite the fact that others might consider his choice to be on the stranger side.

Alcohol  

Keir Starmer has been seen to enjoy a pint of beer on many occasions, whether that be after playing in a football match or after work. 

However, it’s Rishi that rejects alcohol in favour of soft drinks, and he famously admitted to being a coke addict, before clarifying the drink not the drug.

And while he’s a self-professed lover of  carbonated drinks, alcohol is not a liked beverage for Rishi.

‘I really tried [to drink alcohol],’ he told The Times. ‘My family all drink, my wife definitely drinks. It massively irritates her that I don’t.

‘My parents do, my dad was upset that I wouldn’t share a glass of wine with him but thankfully my younger brother came along and that was all right.’

During the 2022 interview Rishi went on to recall that he once did some shots with his family in the lead up to his wedding, but didn’t like the taste.

And while his family and friends described him as happy while drunk, drinking alcohol was never an activity Sunak relished, even during his youth.

Favourite treats  

Keir offered insight into his favourite treats during the Table Manners podcast with Jessie and Lennie Ware last year.

When asked what his final meal would be if he was on a deserted island, he named a selection of relatively healthy Indian foods.

The meal included a seaweed salad for starter, tandoori salmon from his favourite curry house in Glasgow for main, along with dahl, plain naan and pilau rice.

And he’d round things up with a baked lemon cheesecake while sipping on a glass of pinot grigio.

In comparison, Rishi has more of a sweet tooth. On top of his love of Coca-Cola, the Prime Minister has also declared his love of cinnamon buns, specifically ones from Gail’s Bakery.

Despite Sunak observing an intermittent fasting diet – meaning he restricts his calorie intake on certain days of the week – on more lenient days he eats a sugary pastry after his Greek yoghurt breakfast.

Eating routines 

If Keir follows diets, he has kept it out of the public eye. Meanwhile, Rishi has taken a different stance and disclosed he follows an intermittent fasting regime. 

At the start of this year, Rishi said fasting on a Monday is an ‘important discipline’ which allows him to indulge later on.

Despite his demanding schedule as Prime Minister, Mr Sunak said avoiding eating for 36 hours at the start of each week is good for a ‘balanced lifestyle’.

The self-confessed ‘Coca-Cola addict’, who has a preference for a Mexican variety made with pure cane sugar, said fasting helps him to combat his ‘weakness for sugary things’.

Mr Sunak told the BBC : ‘I’m not sure people are that interested in my diet but I tend to try and do some fasting at the beginning of every week as part of a general balanced lifestyle but everyone will do this differently.

‘I think it’s important we have healthy lifestyles, that’s part of what I do, but I also have a weakness for sugary things which I indulge in the rest of the week.’

Asked about how he fasts for a day despite the demands of his office, Mr Sunak said: ‘That’s an important discipline for me but it means that I can then indulge myself in all the sugary treats that I like for the rest of the week, which I tend to enjoy.

‘That’s where I balance it with my job and everything else.’

Friends of Mr Sunak told The Sunday Times that he does not eat anything for 36 hours at the start of each week, from 5pm on Sunday until 5am on Tuesday.

Downing Street insiders disputed the timeline but confirmed that he typically fasts on Mondays.

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