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Gizzi Erskine healthy food tips

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With her delicious recipes, passion for food and kick-ass attitude, Gizzi Erskine is a firm H&F fave. Here are some of the TV chef’s healthy food tips: 

“I grew up surrounded by good food as my mum was such a brilliant cook. Since my childhood, I’ve always experimented with food and tried different flavours, however I’ve stuck by the ethos of cooking from scratch and using fresh ingredients. Here’s my top tips for getting the best possible taste from your food…”

MAKE SURE IT’S FRESH – “When you use fresh ingredients you get the opportunity to explore new and exciting flavours. I always use fresh stock made with filtered water and you’d be surprised how different it tastes compared to using a stock cube! With fresh ingredients you also know exactly what’s going into your food and what you’re getting out of it, so it’s healthier.”

KNOW THE PROVENANCE – “Understanding where ingredients have come from is something I’m passionate about. There’s a lot of confusing info out there so I prefer to buy from local markets as you’re also supporting small businesses as well.”

PREPARE YOUR INGREDIENTS – “We often buy fresh, organic ingredients and forget that how we prepare them is just as important as where we got them from. Washing your fruit and vegetables in filtered water ensures that you get the best possible taste from what you’re about to create as there are reduced levels of chlorine and heavy metals in the water. I use my BRITA tap to prepare my meals.”

Gizzi Erskine is an ambassador for Better with BRITA. For more healthy tips and recipes visit http://bit.ly/BRITAWebsite

Christine Bleakley’s Top Weight Loss Tips

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1. Make fitness fun 
Listen to music or run with your partner or a friend. I sometimes run with Frank and we just sort of chat. Frank’s naturally very sporty and competitive. Although he does slow down for me, he still runs pretty fast, so I have to speed up to keep up with him. It’s good because he pushes me.

2. Don’t obsess over the scales
I don’t think you should obsess too much about what your scales say. I can always tell just by putting my jeans on if I’ve had a hefty weekend. The numbers on the scales can really ruin your day, so I just like to go by what my clothes say.

3. Don’t choose the easy option
Plyometrics, such as the jumping sequences you’ll find on my DVD, are excellent for the legs and bum. They aren’t the easiest, but if you want results, you just have to do them. You have to be prepared to put the time in and, within just a few sessions, you’ll see a massive amount of difference.

4. Re-energise  
Take a walk in the evening. Wrap up warm and switch your phone to silent. You’ll come home feeling fresh, clear-headed and ready for a good night’s sleep. And it’s such a simple thing to do.

 5. Eat little and often   
Have a big breakfast, then ease off during the day. I like to eat little and often, so it’s good to have a little something in your bag like a banana and some nuts. I hate feeling hungry.

6. My inspiration   
My body inspiration has to be Penélope Cruz. I really love her curvaceous look. But I also admire athletic-looking women such as Cameron Diaz

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10-minute boxing workout

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To get your perfect body, you need to get your heart rate up and build muscle. This 10-minute workout puts martial-arts-style manoeuvres and bodyweight exercises together into a fast-paced circuit, to keep your workout intensity high and fend off exercise boredom.

How to do it

First, warm up with two minutes of skipping with an imaginary rope, increasing the height and speed of your jumps as your body warms up.

Then do each exercise in order, taking as little rest as you can between each one. Once you’ve completed all four moves, rest for 30 seconds, then repeat the entire circuit. Your goal is to finish three circuits.

Do three circuits with 30 seconds’ rest between each one.

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Knockout body toning exercises

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If you’re feeling under pressure to shape up, relieve a bit of the stress and burn some extra fat with this boxing workout. In four weeks, you’ll be stronger, slimmer and sexier.

How to do it:

Start with two minutes of light cardio, such as star jumps or jogging, to warm up your muscles and mind. Then do the following exercises in order as a circuit.

Perform each exercise for the correct number of repetitions, and move from one to the other without any rest.

Once you’ve completed the first circuit, rest for no more than 30 seconds before repeating the sequence. Stretch out and cool down after your workout to prevent injury.  

The Paleo Diet: fad or fab?

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Thanks to modern medicine a baby born today has a good chance of seeing out a century. But progress has come at a price. Our bodies are poorly designed for the modern diet of processed food packed with fat, sugar and salt, and nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits and nuts have largely fallen by the wayside. These changes have come with an alarming increase in obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes and cancer. So in many cases we’re living longer, but ‘sicker’. But what if we reverted to the diet our bodies were made for, shrinking our waistlines as well as our risk of chronic illness?

Turning back the clock
This is the main premise of the paleo diet, also known as the hunter-gatherer or caveman diet, which points out that humans evolved to eat mainly lean meat, vegetables and fruit, rather than highly processed junk food. Even dairy, grains and potatoes didn’t feature at all in paleolithic times – in evolutionary terms, these are relative newcomers to the plate. The paleo style of eating is a vast departure from the kind of diets we’re used to, but unlike many other high-protein programmes, it’s low in the saturated fat that increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.

The science

The scientific evidence in support of caveman eating is stacking up. Population studies on the hunter-gatherer people of the Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea, have found a remarkable absence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A three-week clinical trial involving 14 paleo diet volunteers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute produced an average weight loss of 2.3kg, plus a fall in blood pressure. Another study from Sweden’s Lund University suggests that a paleo diet could help control blood sugar, with knock-on benefits for cardiovascular health. Researchers put patients with either glucose intolerance (pre-diabetes) or overt diabetes on a paleo diet, or a Mediterranean diet based around wholegrains, low-fat dairy, fruit, vegetables and healthy oils. Over three months both groups lost weight, but the paleo group lost slightly more, and notably, showed much better blood glucose control. 

Calcium concerns
Because it bans dairy, the paleo diet has come under fire for being low in calcium. But the scientists behind the diet say that ‘calcium balance’ is more important than intake, and point out that the diet is packed with vegetables which have a net alkalizing effect on the body, minimising calcium loss and protecting bones.

How does it work? 

The paleo diet starts gently, becoming stricter until you’re eating like a true cavewoman. In phase one you’re allowed three ‘open meals’ a week, where you can break the rules. In phase two you get two open meals, and in phase three, just one (but ideally none).

On the upside, you can say goodbye to calorie counting and weighing your food, and it’s high in fibre and protein, so you shouldn’t feel hungry. But keep in mind that you have to cook from scratch – there are no ready meals allowed and eating out can be difficult. And if you’re avoiding dairy, you need to ensure you get regular intake from other sources such as green leafy veggies and seeds.

Want to become a queen of the Stone Age? Learn the paleo rules then pick and mix from our meal ideas.

The rules

Allowed

  • As much lean meat, fish, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables (except starchy veg) you like, with an emphasis on large amounts of vegetables.
  • In moderation: Nuts and seeds, oils (olive, avocado, walnut, linseed, canola). Up to 50g dried fruit a day. Diet drinks, coffee and tea, wine, beer and spirits (within health guidelines) are allowed as ‘transitional’, until you can phase them out.

Not allowed

  • Processed foods
  • Grains
  • Dairy products
  • Processed meats
  • Beans, lentils and peanuts
  • Sugars and sugary soft drinks
  • Starchy root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes)
  • Fats (except the permitted oils)
  • Salt and salty foods (eg salted nuts, bacon, smoked meats)

Breakfast

  • Sliced lean, cold chicken, a slice of melon and a chopped pear
  • 2 scrambled eggs with two large, grilled flat mushrooms
  • Half a melon, seeds removed and filled with strawberries and chopped walnuts
  • A cold poached salmon steak with watercress, and a chopped pear, apple and two kiwi fruit topped with a tablespoon of sunflower seeds
  • Omelette made with two eggs and filled with vegetables and a bowl of grapefruit, orange and blueberries
  • A beefsteak tomato topped with two scrambled eggs and a bowl of poached fresh pear and peaches

Lunch

  • A small cooked skinless chicken breast with a large mixed salad, scattered with sunflower seeds and dressed with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, plus a piece of fruit
  • A bowl of cooked prawns with a large mixed salad, plus vegetable sticks with homemade salsa and guacamole, and a piece of fruit
  • Baked skinless chicken breast with an apple, pear, cucumber, celery, chopped walnut and baby leaf spinach salad dressed with linseed oil and lemon juice. A piece of fruit
  • A grilled salmon steak with cherry tomatoes and a large mixed salad, and a piece of fruit

Dinner

  • A lean turkey breast steak baked with cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, courgette slices and onion wedges. Serve with steamed broccoli and asparagus. Finish with a bowl of red berries and melon with slivered almonds
  • A baked fillet of white fish seasoned with dill and lemon juice and topped with a poached egg. Steamed broccoli and a large mixed salad. A baked apple stuffed with raisins
  • A spicy beef and vegetable stew served with steamed cabbage and broccoli. A ripe mango, pureed and topped with a tablespoon of slivered almonds
  • A spicy grilled chicken breast with stir-fried vegetables. Three slices of fresh pineapple and a chopped pear
  • A lean grilled steak with grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, and a large mixed salad. A banana baked in its skin, served with a large handful of raspberries or strawberries 

Snacks

Snack whenever you feel hungry between meals

  • Fresh fruit 
  • Raw vegetables 
  • Almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts (limit if trying to lose weight)
  • Unsalted sunflower seeds
  • A hard-boiled egg
  • Peeled cooked prawns
  • Slices of skinless steamed or boiled chicken
  • Slices of lean cooked beef

Essential info

Want to learn more about caveman eating? Check out The Paleo Diet and The Paleo Answer by Loren Cordain (£9.99 and £17.99, John Wiley & Sons).

Jennifer Lopez Diet

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It seems Jennifer Lopez has it all, including an A-List body. Envious curves, slim, yet strong – JLo is in great shape. What’s the secret behind how the mum of two maintains her signature curves? “There are a number of weird diets out there but I don’t follow them,” she says, “I eat almost everything, only in moderation.” This is something we can get on board with. 

According to J-Lo, “A little piece of something fattening is not going to kill you. It’s when you eat the whole box that it’s going to kill you.” It turns out you can enjoy all your favourite ‘treat’ foods without the guilt, if your sensible eating them.

Rather than caving to cravings, you should aim to eat these foods when they’re least likely to impact on your weight or health. ‘When you stop forbidding yourself, you’ll be less likely to binge and more likely to enjoy these foods in the appropriate quantities – and only occasionally,’ says fitness and weight-loss expert Marisa Peer.

What: Chocolate

When: Breakfast

We know that dark chocolate is brimming with free-radical blasting antioxidants – 20 times more than green tea – and that it’s a great source of magnesium, which can ease depression and migraines, as well as boost your metabolism, says Peer. Antioxidants called catechins in dark chocolate (with 70 per cent or more cocoa solids) inhibit the breakdown of fats and reduce inflammation. A recent study by Tel Aviv University showed that morning is the best time to consume sweet foods such as chocolate, because this is when your metabolism is firing at its best. Half of the people in the study ate a portion of chocolate cake with their breakfast during the 32-week study. Despite consuming the same total calories during the day, the cake eaters lost, on average, 40lbs more than those who didn’t eat the cake. 

What: Milkshake

When: After Cardio

If long-distance running is your thing, have some chocolate milk to hand for a post-run recovery drink, says Peer. Endurance exercise depletes muscle glycogen so, while drinking water will replace fluid loss from exercise, having chocolate milk within 30 minutes of intense exercise will provide carbohydrates and a combination of whey and casein protein to replenish your muscles. Whey is fast acting, allowing amino acids to get right into the muscle tissue, while casein is digested more slowly, providing a steady stream of amino acids over time. A study published in The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism tested this theory. Nine cyclists biked until exhaustion, and then rested for four hours. During this break, each consumed low-fat chocolate milk, the energy drink Gatorade or another high-carbohydrate sports drink. When they cycled again to exhaustion, those who’d drunk the chocolate milk were able to cycle for as long and some for longer the second time round. A leisurely 20-minute jog, does not qualify you for a milkshake though; water is just fine.

What: Burger

When: After Weights

Beef has had a bad rep because it’s high in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. On the contrary, a diet that includes lean red meat can lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol and increase absorption of omega 3 fatty acids, according to a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition. ‘Red meat aids fat burning, muscle building and concentration,’ says Peer, ‘so if these are your goals eat red meat at least three times a week.’  Red meat contains iron, which is an important nutrient for delivering oxygen to muscles, so grab a burger (albeit a healthy one, minus the sauce and onion rings!) after a weight training workout. Steak mince is also a great source of creatine, an amino acid that helps to speed up muscle recovery and fight fatigue. In addition a University of Illinois study has shown a pre workout meal of steak and eggs will help you burn more fat during your workout and help to increase lean muscle growth. Eat your meal 30 minutes to two hours before a workout, depending on the size of the meal

What: Coffee

When: Before Training

‘Coffee aids fat burning, so drink it before a workout to see better results,’ says Peer. A study by the Australian Institute of Sport found that caffeine triggers muscles to start using stored fat instead of carbohydrate as an energy source. Drunk before a workout, caffeine allowed athletes in the study to exercise three times as long. Another study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, found that a pre-workout coffee can increase your power output in the gym by between five and eight per cent. Caffeine also increases stamina and improves physical performance, according to researchers from the University of Georgia, who say caffeine acts as an anesthetic, blocking muscle pain and soreness, helping you work out for longer.

What: White Bagel

When: Pre-workout

It’s a general consensus that consuming processed ‘white’ carbs is bad for you because it causes your insulin levels to spike, but eating a high-carb meal, will ensure your body uses it for fuel instead of storing it as fat, says Peer. ‘White bagels are good for endurance training, because the body uses the carbohydrate for energy. If you’re running, hiking or cycling long distances, eating simple carbohydrates before and at regular intervals while you train will give you the energy you need to keep going,’ says Peer. Combine this high-GI white bagel with an egg filling if you want its energy to be released over a longer period of time. The carbohydrate will enter your bloodstream quickly and drive the nutrients from the protein in the egg into your muscles, helping you to get more from your workout. 

3-day diet

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How is it that your skinny friend can stuff herself with cake and not put on a pound, while you only have to look at a chocolate brownie to go up a dress size? 

You basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the speed at which you burn calories doing everyday tasks and it varies from person to person. To lose fat and stay slim, you need a fast BMR, which is what your twig-like pal may have. You, on the other hand, may have the BMR of a sleepy snail. So what can you do? Crash dieting can slow your BMR, as the body goes into starvation mode and tries to hold on to all the calories it can. Dieting often sees you lose muscle, too, stalling your sluggish BMR even further. But with the right combination of food and exercise you can kick your metabolism back into high gear, so you can lose extra weight and keep it off for good.

Check out our three-day diet from Lowri Turner below:

Day 1

On waking 1 glass iced water

Breakfast Blueberry pancakes and 1 cup green tea

Morning snack Choose from list

Lunch 1 medium baked sweet potato with 100g cottage cheese and a small side salad

Afternoon snack Choose from list

Dinner Chinese chicken stir-fry: Toss 100g skinless chicken breast, broccoli and sugar snap peas in a wok with fresh ginger, garlic and chilli, 1tsp soya and sesame oil 

DESSERT 2 squares good-quality dark chocolate

Day 2

On waking 1 glass iced water

Breakfast Superfood omelette and 1 cup green tea

Morning snack Choose from list

Lunch 1 fillet of cooked salmon with mixed leaves

Afternoon snack Choose from list

Dinner Pork curry: 100g lean diced pork or Quorn cooked with 1tsp curry paste and 50g low-fat Greek yoghurt, served with ½ cup cooked brown rice

DESSERT 2 squares good-quality dark chocolate

Day 3

On waking 1 glass iced water

Breakfast Fruity yoghurt crunch and 1 cup green tea

Morning snack Choose from list

Lunch Chicken lettuce wrap: top 1 iceberg lettuce leaf with ½ pack sliced, skinless chicken, 1 tomato and ½ avocado, sliced, and 1tsp fresh chopped mint. Top with another lettuce leaf

Afternoon snack Choose from list

Dinner Smoked mackerel paté: Mash ½ fillet of smoked mackerel with 2tbsp fat-free Greek yoghurt, squeeze of lemon and pinch of cayenne pepper. Serve with 1 wholewheat pitta bread, toasted and sliced, and a small side salad

Dessert 2 squares good-quality dark chocolate

Snack list

Choose one item for your morning snack and one for the afternoon.

4 2 sticks celery and 2 tablespoons low-fat cottage cheese mixed with a little horseradish.

4 1 carrot, cut into sticks, and 2 tablespoons guacamole with added paprika.

4 cucumber, cut into sticks, with 2 tablespoons spicy fresh salsa (chopped tomatoes, peppers,
chilli, lime juice and fresh coriander).

4 1 apple and 5 almonds.

4 1 pear and 6 walnut halves.

4 2 clementines and 1 tablespoon pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

4 50g fat-free Greek yoghurt with 2 tablespoons frozen berries, sweetened with 2 teaspoons stevia.

4 1 high-protein brownie 

 

Drop a dress size!

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Want to shed some weight in time for Christmas party season? Or just feel a bit more comfortable in your skinny jeans? We may have the diet-plan to fit the bill. Introducing the fat-busting, health-boosting way to shed weight in just four weeks. Yes, really. It’s low in fast-release sugars and ‘bad’ fats that contribute to weight gain, but high in energy so you can burn plenty of calories.

If you’re feeling bloated, this is a great detox plan, too. Using the food combining concept, it supports your body’s natural detoxification process to rid you of excess water and bloating – so you’ll look and feel slimmer, fast. What are you waiting for? You have nothing to lose but your muffin top!

The rules…  
3 meals + 2 snacks per day 
Long gaps between meals can lead to low blood sugar. This causes the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which can promote fat storage. And if you let yourself get really hungry, you’re more likely to devour the contents of the fridge. On this plan, you have a fruit salad on waking, then breakfast, lunch, an afternoon dried fruit and nut/seed snack, then dinner. You shouldn’t feel hungry.

Eat ‘clean’ food 
Packaged foods, ready meals, biscuits and crisps can be loaded with sugar and bad fats. They may also contain substances, such as MSG in crisps, that are linked to intolerances. ‘Toxic’ substances – simply those your body is intolerant to – cause the body to retain water, to dilute them. To reduce bloating, avoid these and stick to ‘clean’ foods, cooked from scratch, like fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and beans. Go further by replacing cow’s milk with soya or rice milk, and opt for cheeses made from sheep or goat’s milk, such as feta and halloumi. Replace common wheat with rye or spelt for breads; porridge, buckwheat pancakes or spelt flakes for breakfast;and quinoa, amaranth or barley for dinner. 

No stimulants
Caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, diet colas), alcohol, sweets and chocolate are all stimulants. These raise your blood sugar, causing fat storage, and provoke cravings. Too much caffeine can also stall the detox process, so switch to decaffeinated tea and coffee, and drink plenty of water – eight glasses a day is ideal.

Combine foods
The essence of the Jump Start program is fast and effective digestion and elimination. The easiest way to do this is to food combine – which begins with separation. Divide your food into four groups: Proteins Meat, fish, eggs, milk, yoghurt and cheese, vegetable proteins such as quorn and tofu. Carbs Wholegrain bread, pasta, couscous, brown rice, quinoa, bulgar, beans and lentils, starchy vegetables such as potato and sweet potato, swede, turnip and beetroot. ‘Light’ vegetables Salad leaves, tomatoes, broccoli and cabbage, for example.Nuts, seeds and dried fruits. The best are Brazil nuts, almonds and walnuts, and linseeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. A handful serves as an afternoon snack.

To speed up your digestion, separate carbs and proteins. However, both groups can be combined with vegetables. So, you can have tomatoes on toast, but not cheese on toast, and salmon salad, but not salmon and rice. Avocado is the only fruit that can be eaten with carbs. Otherwise, fruit should be on its own, as a breakfast fruit salad only. A little rice, soya or oat milk may be combined with a grain such as oats at breakfast. 

 
 
A typical day  
7am Detox fruit salad. Chop and toss together three of the following: Apple, pear, orange, 2 clementines, half a grapefruit, a small pack of blueberries, raspberries or strawberries,
1 slice of melon, 2 figs. 

8.30am Breakfast

1pm Lunch

4.30pm A handful of mixed dried fruit, nuts and/or seeds 

7.30pm Dinner

 
 
Meal ideas  
Breakfast  
Porridge made with 50g of oats, 70ml of soya milk and 1 teaspoon of honey.  
3 oatcakes with 1 avocado.  
Omelette made with 2 organic eggs and 2 sliced portobello mushrooms.  
Eggs Florentine made with 2 poached eggs, a handful of spinach and 25g grated emmental cheese.  
50g of granola or spelt flakes with 70ml of oat milk and 1 teaspoon of honey.  
2 slices rye toast topped with 10 grilled vine tomatoes.  
Frittata made with 2 organic eggs, 25g feta cheese and a small handful of fresh mint.  
2 eggs scrambled and served with 3 baked tomatoes.  
Two Weetabix topped with 2 tablespoons of fat-free Greek yoghurt and 1 teaspoon of honey.  
 
 
 • Lunch  
Tuna Niçoise salad made with ½ bag of salad leaves, 1 small can of tuna in spring water, 4 black olives, ½ red onion, sliced, and 1 boiled egg. Drizzle with vinaigrette.  
Chicken fajitas made with 1 sliced, grilled chicken breast, ½ an avocado and ½ a sliced red pepper, wrapped in a romaine lettuce leaf.  
Sandwich made with 2 slices of brown bread and filled with 1 tablespoon of low-fat houmous and 2 tablespoons each of shredded lettuce and carrot.  
100g cod baked with 1 garlic clove, lemon slices and parsley, served with ½ a head of steamed broccoli.  
Kebabs made with 1 chicken breast, 1 red onion and 1 green pepper cut into cubes and skewered. Serve with 1 tablespoon of Greek yoghurt mixed with 1 tablespoon of water, a squeeze of lemon and fresh mint.  
Lentil soup made with 50g of lentils, 250ml of stock, 1 carrot and 1 celery stick. Serve with a wholemeal roll.  
Pasta salad made with 100g of wholemeal penne, 4 tomatoes, ½ a large can of kidney beans and 1 sliced pepper, tossed with vinaigrette dressing.  
2 slices of rye topped with ½ an avocado and 1 tomato.  
 
Dinner  
Stir-fry made with 150g quorn, 50g snow peas, 25g baby corn, ½ red pepper, 1 garlic clove, ½ teaspoon of grated ginger, ½ red chilli and 2 tablespoons of soya sauce.  
100g steak, grilled, served with ½ bag of salad leaves dressed with vinaigrette.  
Vegetable curry made with 1 carrot, 1 leek, ½ aubergine, ½ courgette in a spicy tomato sauce served with ½ cup cooked brown rice.   
1 wholewheat pitta bread topped with 1 tablespoon of low-fat tomato sauce, ½ sliced onion, 1 tablespoon of capers, 4 anchovies and 25g of grated cheese, and grilled.  
100g cooked prawns, stir-fried with ½ head broccoli and ½ yellow pepper.  
1 can sardines in tomato sauce, grilled, served with ½ bag salad leaves in vinaigrette.  
Shepherd’s pie made with 100g lean minced beef and ½ cooked and mashed cauliflower as a topping.  
Casserole made with 1 skinless chicken breast, 1 stick of celery, ½ a carrot, 6 mushrooms and 250ml stock.  
1 baked sweet potato with ratatouille made from ½ a jar of low-fat tomato sauce with 1 sliced courgette, ½ sliced aubergine and ½ sliced red pepper.  
Roast 1 whole chicken (serves 4), and serve with 1 sliced, steamed carrot and 2 tablespoons of cooked peas. Remove chicken skin before serving.  
 

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16:8 diet – intermittent fasting

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Fasting is the talk of the diet town. Never before has it been so discussed or so trendy. The diet book The 8-Hour Diet, by author David Zinczenko and Men’s Health editor-in-chief Peter Moore, is another spin on the fasting for weight loss phenomenon.

This diet restricts eating times to an eight hour period – 9am to 5pm or 11am to 7pm – in order to rev up metabolism by introducing fasting or ‘fat-burning’ periods. Read on for H&F’s analysis:

The positives – If you have to plan your meals to fit within the 8-hour time frame you become a more conscious eater. Mindless eating is a pitfall for many slimmers.
– The idea that you can eat whatever you like during the time frame is appealing – if you tell yourself you can’t have a food, you want it even more, so being able to eat what you like may even help you stick to healthier foods.
– If your last meal is at 5pm or 6pm, this diet will cut out any late-night snacking!
– in order to fight hunger pangs outside your allotted eating hours, you can eat high-fibre and high-protein foods such as yoghurt, nuts and vegetables. These foods are also healthy and nutritious.

The negatives – You are free to consume as many calories and whatever type of food you desire during the 8-hour period. This doesn’t teach you about healthy eating, and could result in excessive calorie intake, which is detrimental to health and could cause weight gain.
– Avoid taking a fasting diet to the extreme. All meals consumed should contain a wide range of foods to ensure you get a balance of macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals).
– Eating within a restricted time frame, still instils the dieting mindset. If you think you’re following a ‘diet’, you’re less likely to want to follow the diet long-term.
– This diet ignores the theory of calories in Vs calories out. If you eat more calories than you burn off, regardless of when you eat them, you will put on weight!

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Party season survival guide

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We’ve all been there… You go to slip into your slinky black party dress only to find it’s shrunk in the wardrobe. What do you do? Wear magic knickers and suck in your breath all night? Swap it for something you don’t like half as much? Go panic-shopping for a new dress in a depressingly roomier size?

Scrap that. The more sensible option is to opt for a spot of pre-party season fat-busting. It doesn’t have to be radical – no starving yourself, no drinking weird shakes, no 10K runs before a bowl of gruel for breakfast. Instead, we’re talking about five days of focused healthy eating and exercise for instant body confidence.

Some of the ‘weight’ you may feel you want to shift may not be fat at all, but water or gas, and you can do a lot of improve both of those in five days. Plus, this plan includes foods that will nurture your skin and hair from within. Start on Monday and you’ll be looking and feeling fantastic in time for the weekend.

How to do it
Follow these rules for best results

Eat regularly
Leaving long gaps between meals and snacks messes with your blood sugar which can upset your energy and mood, leading to sugar cravings and stress eating. It can also mean that when you do eat, you’re so hungry you stuff yourself. Large meals can lead to food fermentation, which creates gas, expanding your waistline. Aim for the ‘little and often’ approach.

Ditch wheat
Wheat foods tend to be high in calories (pizza, bread, biscuit, cakes…) so avoiding it can really save your butt! It’s also a common source of intolerance reactions which can cause bloating, so removing it may help you look and feel slimmer quickly, as well as reduce skin redness and breakouts. On this plan you should avoid:

Bread (except 100% rye)
Pasta  
Cakes, pastries and biscuits
Pizza
Couscous and bulgar
Breakfast cereals (except porridge and puffed brown rice)

Eat some grains
You’ll be exercising this week, so it’s important that you have some fuel in the tank. A small amount of slow-release carbs from non-wheat sources will give you the get-up-and-go you need for the gym.

You can eat grains twice a day on this plan, but the serving size is modest as even these non-wheat foods can pull water into the body. Choose two items from this list:

1 slice rye bread or 2 rye crispbreads (Ryvita)
1 teacup cooked porridge oats or 3 oatcakes
1 teacup cooked brown rice or quinoa

Vary your dairy
Most dairy foods are made from cow’s milk, a known intolerance trigger in many people. Cow dairy foods can also be high in fat, and therefore calories. The more often you eat something, the more likely you are to become intolerant to it, so it pays to vary your dairy. Switch to goat’s or sheep’s dairy, or soya or nut milks.

Focus on lean protein
Lean protein helps you feel full so it should be the cornerstone of any weight-loss plan. The most common cause of poor-quality hair is also a low-protein diet (hair is made from the protein keratin). Eating more protein can help you lose weight and get your hair in great shape for the party season – win-win! You should aim to eat 200g-300g protein every day. This means you need to eat two items from this list:

100g Greek 0% fat yoghurt
100ml skimmed milk
2 organic eggs
1 skinless chicken/turkey breast or 100g turkey mince
100g lean pork fillet
3 rashers unsmoked back bacon
100g white fish, such as cod, haddock or pollock
100g oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel
100g tofu, Quorn

Say no to beans

Beans and lentils are brilliant, healthy foods, but they have a major downside – they create gas. So, if you want to look and feel slimmer fast, for the next five days you should avoid:

Lentils
Chickpeas or houmous
Kidney, cannellini, butter or flageolet beans
Houmous

Eat good fats
Boosting essential fats is a fast way to moisturise skin from the inside. Just a few days of adding extra omega-3 and 6s will really show in your skin. Plus, you need some fat to burn fat! The easiest way to add good fats is to drizzle oils over salad, eat oily fish or snack on nuts and seeds. Aim for one serving a day from the following list:

1 tablespoon olive, linseed, walnut or rapeseed oil
½ avocado
50g oily fish
2 tablespoons pumpkin or sunflower seeds
6 almonds or 6 half walnuts, or 3 brazil nuts

Go easy on fruit
Fruit is nutritious and the high antioxidant content makes it great for skin. However, it’s also high in sugar, which can stall weight loss. Choose low-sugar fruits and don’t eat them after a meal where they can sit and ferment in your stomach, creating gas. Fruit should be eaten as a snack or at breakfast, but not as a pudding. Eat up to two of these per day:

1 apple
1 pear
1 orange
½ grapefruit
2 tablespoons berries
1 slice melon

Salad with everything
Vegetables and salad are healthy and low in calories, so this is where you can bulk up your meals. However, eating too much of anything can create bloating, so watch your portion size. Aim for a fist size serve of salad or veggies with every meal and no more. Steer clear of white potatoes, turnip, swede, parsnip or beetroot.

Ban booze
Alcohol is fattening and a nightmare for your skin, so if you want to look amazing by the weekend, give it a miss during week. Instead, drink lots of water, herbal teas or green tea.

 

Eat from a plate, not a bowl
Bowls encourage overeating. You’re more likely to reduce your portion size if you eat from a plate.

 

Slow down
Make a conscious effort to chew your food thoroughly. This will not only allow your brain time to register the food you have eaten, switching off your appetite and preventing over-eating, it will also kick your digestion into gear.

 

Reduce salt

Salt causes water retention, which can really show in your body-con dress. To look and feel slimmer fast, don’t add salt to food and avoid salty condiments such as Marmite and soya sauce.

 

Go for watery veg

Diuretic foods cause you to lose water from your body so they can really help to beat the bloat. Most vegetables are diuretic, especially cucumber, celery and asparagus.

 

Exercise daily

Exercise burns calories, lifts mood and gets your digestion moving. It’s especially beneficial after eating to aid blood sugar balance. You may not feel like running a marathon after lunch, but making time for a walk or a quick workout will help digestion and also stop you over-eating as it’s uncomfortable to move about if you’ve eaten too much.

 

Get a good night’s sleep

Sleep deprivation increases appetite and plays havoc with your pores. Get eight hours a night to give you plenty of energy to exercise and allow skin time to heal itself overnight.

 

Your 5-day slim-down plan

DAY 1

BREAKFAST

Apple porridge with pecans and cinnamon (see recipe)

 

MORNING SNACK

1 apple, 6 walnuts halves

 

LUNCH

Mediterranean tuna salad

Combine a small bag of salad leaves with 6 cherry tomatoes, 2 chopped spring onions, 1 chopped cucumber and 6 pitted black olives. Top with ½ can tuna in spring water, drained. Dress with 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette

 

SNACK

2 sticks of celery with 50g low-fat cottage cheese

 

DINNER

Quorn stir fry

Heat a wok and spritz with oil. Fry 1 chopped clove garlic, ½ red chilli and 1 teaspoon ginger paste. Add 100g Quorn pieces and brown. Set aside. In the same pan, add a handful each of sugar snap peas, carrot sticks and broccoli and 2 tablespoons water. Cover and steam until cooked. Add 1 tablespoon low-sugar soya sauce and combine with the Quorn. Serve.

 

RECIPE

Apple porridge with pecans and cinnamon

Serves 2 

150g porridge oats
400ml semi-skimmed milk
300ml water
½tsp cinnamon
2 Pink Lady apples, cored and diced
2tbsp soft brown sugar, or to taste
2tbsp pecans, roughly chopped

 

Place the oats, milk, water and cinnamon in a heavy based saucepan. Bring up to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently, and cook for 5 minutes or until thick and creamy. Add a splash more milk or water if it is getting too thick.

Stir through the diced apple, cooking for just another 30 seconds or so to warm the apple through.

Spoon into bowls, sprinkle brown sugar to taste and scatter on the pecans. Serve immediately while piping hot.

 

DAY 2

BREAKFAST

1 slice rye toast topped with ½ avocado, mashed. Drizzle with a squeeze of lemon, sea salt and paprika to taste

 

SNACK

1 pear and 3 Brazil nuts

 

LUNCH

Winter superfood salad (see recipe)

 

SNACK

Cucumber sticks with 2 tablespoons low-fat yoghurt, mixed with fresh mint and lemon juice to taste

 

DINNER

Feta and asparagus frittata

Spritz a frying pan with oil. Fry ½ chopped onion and 3 asparagus spears, chopped. Add 1 tablespoon water and cover until the asparagus is tender. Add two beaten eggs, salt and pepper and cook till eggs are firm. Sprinkle with 25g feta cheese and 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh mint and serve

 

RECIPE

Winter superfood salad

Serves 2

1tbsp olive oil
225g sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
225g turkey fillets, sliced
1 orange pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1cm piece root ginger, grated
Zest and juice 1/2 orange
1tbsp soya sauce
1/2tbsp honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
2 large handfuls mixed watercress, spinach and rocket leaves

Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7. Place the oil, potatoes, turkey and peppers in a large roasting tin and toss together. Roast for 20 minutes.

Add the garlic and ginger to the turkey and vegetables and roast for a further 15 minutes or until the turkey is golden and the potatoes tender. Add the orange zest and juice, soya sauce and honey and mix well. Cool slightly. Season to taste.

Put the salad leaves in a large bowl, add the turkey mixture and lightly toss to mix. Serve straight away.

 

DAY 3

BREAKFAST

2 eggs and 1 slice toasted rye bread, cut into soldiers

 

SNACK

1 slice melon with 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

 

LUNCH

Radish and rare beef roll-ups (see recipe)

 

SNACK

2 sticks celery with 50g low-fat cottage cheese

 

DINNER

Hot and sour apple and prawn stir-fry 

 

RECIPE

Radish and rare beef roll-ups

Serves 4

450g fillet steak (1 long thin piece works best)
2tsp oil
8 radishes
4 spring onions
2cm root ginger
2tbsp sesame oil
40ml soya sauce
½tbsp wasabi paste
Bunch watercress
Black sesame seeds, to sprinkle

Season the steak with salt and white pepper. Heat the oil in a frying pan until very hot and sear the steak on all sides so it’s quite dark on the outside but still feels soft and rare on the inside. Wrap it in cling film and place it in the freezer for 1 hour.

Chop each radish into 8 wedges and slice the spring onions length ways into thin slivers.

Finely grate the ginger and combine with the sesame oil, soya and wasabi paste.

Unwrap the steak and slice as thinly as possible, you should get 16 slices out of it. Place a few pieces of radish and spring onion along with a sprig or two of watercress at one end of a slice of beef and roll it up. Repeat this until all of the beef and vegetable are used up.

Arrange the beef rolls on a plate and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve with the dipping sauce. This recipe makes 16 rolls – save the leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for another meal.

 

 Lowri Turner is a nutritionist with two London weight loss clinics. For more information, go to lowriturner.com Recipes and pictures: British Leaf Salad Association, makemoreofsalad.com; Pink Lady Apples, pinkladyapples.co.uk; Love Radish,loveradish.co.uk

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