So, here are the rules I (largely) stuck to when I began my fat loss diet. They are simply the rules that I followed, for me. Everyone is different, with different health needs, medical conditions, energy expenditure and so on…. adapt my rules to suit you and seek medical advice. I am no doctor or dietician!
I wanted to keep this simple, to help me remember them.
- No simple carbohydrates (bread, pasta, flour, starchy veg eg potatoes)
- No sugar (anything ending with -ose)
- Limit your fruit – think of it like biscuits
- No alcohol (especially wine and beer)
- No fizzy drinks, even diet ones (they contain glucose syrup)
- No fruit juices
- No processed meals – who knows what’s lurking within
- Clean, raw, fresh foods eating lots of what is in season
This was a lifestyle change, not a diet – I had to break bad habits and old ways of lazy food thinking, so needed to be tough. Just like running, the first bit was the hardest until I got into my stride.
This bit is for those people, like me, who like to know why…
In the past, I thought that by grabbing a sandwich at my desk I had eaten healthily and consumed few calories that day, because I just had a sandwich – but in the sandwich I had a huge amount of calories – probably more than in a chocolate bar and unless it was packed with salad, really it was probably not terribly healthy either. If instead, I had eaten some carrots, some green beans, a few sticks of celery, some nuts and some cheese, I would have limited my energy intake and increased my nutrient intake. I would have felt fuller because the protein in the cheese takes longer to digest and 20% of the calories in the protein are used to digest it, so instantly I am starting to use up those calories – simply by making the right food choice. I also would have been chewing for longer because I could have eaten a whole bag of green beans if I wanted, so I will think myself fuller. Overall, a better deal for my body and one step closer to my goal.
My further thoughts on some of my rules
Carbohydrates – initially I took them out. More complex carbs are better, but I generally try and avoid them. Instead, when I need a bread item, I make careful choices like choosing a flatbread rather than a panini. I have come to love Warburton thins as they contain fewer grammes of carbohydrate than a pitta bread, and when I’m looking for that sandwich item or marmalade toast, they really do the job. But eat them sparingly.
Fruit – although this contains a lot of nutrients, something this eating plan intends to achieve, it also contains a lot of sugar in the form of fructose. A whole piece of fruit comes with fibre, which helps shift the fructose out of your system. A juice, has most of the fibre removed, so really is like a sugary drink (agreed a better choice than a fizzy drink due to the micronutrients the juice contains, but not as good as water if you are trying to shift fat.) So initially, I reduced my fruit intake and cut out the juices.
Protein – I keep this “clean” ie. unprocessed. Excellent choices are white meats – I tend to buy a whole chicken, cook it then strip it of meat and keep the meat in the fridge on a plate ready to put over a salad or into a Warburton’s thin. It is then instant, healthy, unprocessed food and a basis for many meals. Red meat can be eaten, for example I will share with you a really quick burger recipe, or a lovely bolognaise, which again can be kept in the fridge and reheated for another supper. But be sensible, if you are eating red meat for every meal – this isn’t healthy, so balance it with other meats and cheeses and fish. I will share with you an amazing feta trick which will transform salads and take minutes to prepare. Also, by having some salmon steaks in the freezer, I am 5 microwave minutes from having a delicious and nutritious main to which I can quickly add some raw veg or previously cooked roast vegetables. I think wisely about protein – it is the starting point of my meal. Initially Louise Parker recommends you limit your protein intake to 75g per meal – about half a chicken breast. I did this for a week to re-educate me about portion size, but quickly went to a whole chicken breast and 2/3 a block of feta. Remember, any unused protein will turn to fat, so I kept a watch on it.
Vegetables – I go by the mantra“eat the rainbow!” Government recommendations of 5 different types of fruit and veg a day are very low and based on the fact you have filled yourself up with carbs so are looking at veg as a meal accompaniment rather than the majority of the plate. I am shifting that thought. My veg makes my plate then I “flavour” it with protein. I am wary of starchy veg though, eg sweet potato and squashes – I do eat them but in moderation, they are still carbohydrates. I go to the veg aisle and buy a big variety of veg. Tenderstem broccoli, green beans, beetroot, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet peppers, fennel, and anything that takes my fancy, looks fresh and healthy. Most of this I prewash and put in the fridge in dishes that I then just need to grab small handfuls from to assemble the fastest but tastiest chicken or mackerel salad. I like to sprinkle my salads with seeds – Lidl do very good value seed mixes, usually near the tills 😉