Sunday 17 December 2017

Weight Loss: Four ways to lose the flab

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Fleur Fitzpatrick

New Year’s resolutions have come and gone for many of us, but it’s never too late to start a new health kick. Fleur Fitzpatrick shares the trendiest diets for 2012

Ever wanted a diet where you can eat plenty of fatty foods and just exercise in short bursts? Or are you looking for a deeper lifestyle change to get you and your whole family eating more healthily?

Whether you’re keen to shed up to eight pounds in a matter of weeks or you want to live longer, a new crop of diets from the States are promising big things for a smaller, healthier you in the New Year.

And 2012 is the year that diets get technical, offering a wealth of online, tailor-made plans that make it even easier to trim down and tone up with a virtual community to support you.

From a fluffy, girls-only eating plan to a serious, recommended-by-yourdoctor diet or a chance to follow in the footsteps (and meal habits) of our prehistoric ancestors, these hot diets are sure to get everyone talking in the coming months…

1 The P.I.N.K Diet:

Here's the skinny: This is the result of five years of hard work by Cynthia Pasquella.

Designed "for women by women", this three-phase plan blends an emphasis on workouts with healthy eating and aims to produce weight loss -- without sacrificing your health.

Get your teeth into it

Do you start out with good intentions, but let your new diet fall by the wayside because it's too tough, too soon? Then this is the diet for you: its trio of phases gradually introduces your body to better nutrition and workouts you can sustain.

If you sign up as a member to the P.I.N.K. plan, you get a custom-made meal plan, known as the Blueprint. Each food included has been chosen for its power to "specifically spike metabolism, boost energy, and burn fat".

The diet focuses on whole foods that are low in fat and calories, but that doesn't mean sacrificing taste.

According to Cynthia, a typical breakfast might be one of three P.I.N.K. smoothie recipes. Lunch might consist of grilled chicken salad (or quinoa for vegetarians), while grilled fish such as salmon is on the menu for dinner, served with brown rice and vegetables.

And don't forget dessert: the programme includes ideas such as an avocado chocolate pudding.

For the workouts, each different stage is led by a different member of the P.I.N.K. training team. Each one focuses on a different area of your regime. Again, it's tailor-made: you might have an intense 20-minute workout in the first phase to start building up your major muscle groups, then move up to a fitness plan that demands more strength and more cardio.

Why you should try it

Hectic schedules can leave us lacking in nutrients, as it's hard to find the time to eat properly. Cynthia tackles this with the P.I.N.K. Method, which gives all the right goodness for a healthier and fitter you, and there's sound science behind it.

Plus Cynthia is proud of the fact they made sure the programme could meet the needs of just about any woman who wanted to take part.

Why you shouldn't

If you're a guy -- it's strictly no boys. Cynthia also works as a holistic wellness life coach, so this plan may be a little too cheerleader-y for any cynics out there.

2 The Primal Blueprint

Here's the skinny: "A quest for health, wellness and truth" is at the heart of Mark Sisson's philosophy. He offers a multimedia approach to keeping health and fitness simple and fun.

Mark founded Primal Nutrition Inc 15 years ago, but his 2009 book kick-started the intensive diet and exercise phenomenon it has become today.

"The Primal Blueprint is about changing lives; it's about giving you hope if you've been discouraged; it's about making health, even weight loss, effortless and enjoyable," says Mark.

Get your teeth into it

This comprehensive, 30-day plan (dubbed the Primal Leap) focuses on moderating insulin production by ditching sugars and the grains. Instead, meat, eggs and other high-fat foods should take a starring role in your diet.

You also have to incorporate brief, high-impact strength-building workouts and the odd full-on sprint.

The plan gives you step-by-step instruction, including a 135-page 'Primal Leap Guidebook' "containing action items and extensive journal exercises each week in the areas of diet, exercise and lifestyle".

The eating part follows four basic principles: your diet is responsible for 80pc of your body composition (exercise only accounts for the other 20pc); instead of focusing on losing weight, you should aim to lose fat and build muscle (meaning the scales may go up); excess body fat is bad; and excess insulin is also bad.

So what does that mean on your plate? Well, protein takes priority. Mark goes into a lot of detail about the amount of protein you should eat every day to maintain your lean, mean physique.

So let the carbs take a back seat -- the Primal Blueprint only allows enough carbs to provide glucose for the brain, and a bit of anaerobic exercise. He says: "I use a rule of thumb that 100-150g carbohydrate per day is plenty to keep you out of ketosis (and ketosis is NOT a bad thing) but away from storing the excess as fat if you are the least bit active."

Learn to love your fats -- they are your fuel of choice. Nuts, avocados, coconut, eggs, olive oil, fish, chicken, lamb, beef ...

Why you should try it

Mark makes a convincing argument that millions are sweating for hours in the gym and battling to control their weight by counting calories, and it isn't working.

He is offering a compelling alternative to shift four to eight pounds in 30 days, without compromising on taste and with short, high-intensity workouts. So for all those who've tried other diets, this could be the key -- provided you like being told exactly what to do.

Why you shouldn't

Many people enjoy sweating in the gym and counting calories. If fatty foods are a no-go for you when you're trying to shape up, you're better off with a different plan.

The Primal Blueprint does go against what is preached by dieticians: that protein should account for 10-15pc of your daily calorific intake, with carbs making up 60pc and the rest coming from fats. primal-blueprint-101/

3 The DASH Diet

Here's the skinny: The DASH diet is recommended by US physicians for people with high blood pressure, after it was proven to lower hypertension in studies sponsored by the National Institute of Health.

Even those who don't have problems with blood pressure can benefit from its sound healthy eating principles.

Get your teeth into it

This is a low-salt eating plan based on plenty of fruits and vegetables, low-fat or non-fat dairy and whole grains.

Think of it as a variation on the Mediterranean diet theme: there's also lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts and beans on the menu too.

But as well as providing fantastic results in lowering blood pressure in just two weeks, everyone can benefit from its teachings: it's high in fibre, low in fat and sodium, and rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium.

The main key to the DASH plan's success is the strong support a diet like this can offer, regardless of your blood-pressure levels.

The book, 'The DASH Diet Action Plan', provides genuine solutions to make it easy for people to follow the diet -- it has 28 days of meal plans (with adjustments for various calorie levels), recipes, guidance for weight loss and, importantly, tips on how to eat at restaurants or fast food places and still stay on track.

It also shows you how to stock up your kitchen according to the regime, and how to read food labels to make good choices.

Add in exercise advice and other lifestyle changes and you've got a recipe for a much healthier you, with the added benefit that you'll look fantastic as well as feeling it.

Why you should try it

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend DASH as a model for healthy eating for everyone, meaning no more tricky mealtimes cooking different dinners for each member of the family.

As well as giving you lower blood pressure, it provides additional heart-health benefits by lowering cholesterol, and can also lower insulin resistance.

The book and website help you build your own method to suit you, tailoring the diet to your needs, and it's pretty flexible too, designed to meet the likes and dislikes of most people.

Why you shouldn't

Healthy doesn't have to equal preachy. Some might be tempted to rebel after reading the book's advice on other areas such as quitting smoking and moderating your alcohol intake.

If it's actual fast weight loss you're after, rather than a lifestyle shift towards a more wholesome way of living, it may not be the diet for you.

However, the book does include details on adding more exercise to help you shift the pounds a little faster.

4 The 17-day Diet

Here's the skinny: This diet has become a fast internet sensation, and it looks set to get bigger.

Dr Mike Moreno has devised a "simple plan that targets both belly fat and visceral fat and produces fast results that last".

A diet that can shift your spare tyre in a little over two weeks? Too good to be true?

Get your teeth into it

The 17-day period is just the first stage of the four-phase diet. The plan kicks off with an 'Accelerate' step -- a low-carb diet that provides around 1,200 calories a day.

You can eat all the lean meat and no-starch veggies you like, along with two fat-free plain yogurts and two low-sugar fruits.

This phase is followed by 'Activate', from day 18 until day 34, which involves changing your calorie intake from low to high over several days in an effort to 'trick' your metabolism, then starting again.

With two servings of wholegrains also on the menu, the average daily intake is 1,500 calories a day.

Now it's time to 'Achieve', from day 35 until day 51. Lean meat is no longer unlimited, but more grains and fruit are added -- plus you have the option of a serving of alcohol, and a 100-calorie snack.

From day 52 onwards, it's time for 'Arrive'. You spend your weekdays cycling through the first three stages, then on the weekends you are allow to splurge. But gain more than five pounds and you have to go back to the 'Activate' stage.

Why you should try it

If you enjoy perky inspiration, you're in for a treat: "We've all pledged, promised and bullied ourselves to eat better and exercise more, but so many times even the best intentions fall short. I incorporate healthy habits into my work and home life and you can too."

Why you shouldn't

Dr Mike is the first to admit that it's not appropriate for type 1 diabetics, teens, pregnant and lactating women, or anyone who's ill. Plus the first two phases are pretty hardcore, so you might be wise to take a multivitamin-mineral supplement.

The jury's out on what shortcuts you can take to 'trick' your body's systems.

"There is no harm in calorie cycling temporarily or indefinitely and the process happens naturally for most people, who don't eat or burn the same number of calories every day.

"But I'm not in favour of focusing on any process that takes you away from attending to the lifestyle changes you need to make and practice for permanent weight control," says Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, and director of nutrition at Calorie Count.

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