- 57 percent of women and 67 percent of men in the UK are now overweight
- Karen Thomson says a healthy fat diet (LCHF) is the best way to eat
- Delicious recipes and tips can set you up for a lifestyle of healthy eating
Eating healthily all the time can be a big challenge. With 57 per cent of women and 67 per cent of men in the UK now overweight, it’s clear that conventional dietary advice isn’t working.
Our obesity epidemic is out of control — and although we try our best to ‘eat less and exercise more’, we are only getting sicker and fatter. All that received wisdom has succeeded in doing is to fuel a billion-pound diet industry, while turning us into a nation of sugar-guzzling, disillusioned yo-yo dieters.
But pioneering academics and medics in the U.S. and South Africa have compiled a mountain of research to show that the endlessly promoted low-fat, carbohydrate-based diet recommended by dietitians and nutritionists around the world is not only ineffectual, but may in fact be to blame for making us fat and unhealthy.
They now believe that, regardless of our weight, we should all be eating MORE fat, not less, and cutting back severely on carbohydrates — particularly sugar.
In Saturday’s paper, leading British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra set out the case for a radical change of thinking to embrace a low-carbohydrate diet high in healthy fats as the key to ending our obesity epidemic and slowing the escalation of diabetes and heart disease.
All this week, the Daily Mail is serialising a new book by Karen Thomson, the great-granddaughter of pioneering South African heart surgeon Dr Christiaan Barnard.
You could lose as much as a stone in a month without cravings or hunger, and set yourself up for a lifetime of healthy eating — without ever having to worry about dieting again
Karen, like Dr Malhotra, believes a low-carb, healthy fat diet (LCHF) is the most beneficial way to eat. She is convinced this is the only safe route out of the sugar addiction that hinders so much of our healthy eating resolve — and that it’s the key to losing weight, staying slim and feeling fabulous forever.
In today’s paper, we outline the fundamentals and get you started on your weight-loss journey with a five-day meal plan and delicious recipes to entice you into a new LCHF way of life.
Over the coming days, we’ll give you tips and tricks to stay at it — and delicious daily recipes so you’ll never feel hungry.
You could lose as much as a stone in a month without cravings or hunger, and set yourself up for a lifetime of healthy eating — without ever having to worry about dieting again.
The Effortless Way To Beat Cravings
The new approach is all about re-thinking what you eat and it starts with the simplest of steps: cutting down sugar-rich foods in your diet.
Even if we don’t realise it, most of us eat 22 teaspoons of sugar a day — that’s 350 empty calories our bodies don’t need. Remove it and we’d all be on course for effortless slenderness. Simple? Well, not quite. Sugar has a sting in its tail. It is highly addictive.
Even if we don’t realise it, most of us eat 22 teaspoons of sugar a day — that’s 350 empty calories our bodies don’t need
The sugar-rich, carbohydrate-heavy diet on which so many of us have depended for decades plus the proliferation of sugary snacks available and the power of advertising by big food manufacturers have left many of us hooked on sugar and starchy foods. With these so much a part of our lives, quitting completely can seem impossible — but that’s the sugar talking.
Over the coming days, we will show you how to do it. Even if carbohydrates have been the staple of your diet since you were a child, and if sweets are your reward, chocolate your treat and puddings your joy, you CAN do this.
Diet That Makes You Slim And Healthy
The healthiest and easiest way to quit sugar and lose weight is to adopt a diet low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats. Although this is diametrically opposed to much conventional dietary advice, it is a medically accepted regimen, which is gaining interest and gathering expert backing across the world.
It has a massive social media following, with highly respected medics arguing that it is the ONLY healthy way to lose weight and protect against diabetes and heart disease. To take one example, respected American dietary expert Dr Gary Taubes recently argued that tackling obesity isn’t about changing how much you eat, but what you eat. He and many other experts all now believe that LCHF is the answer.
THE GOLDEN RULES TO MAKE THE LOW-CARB HEALTHY-FAT DIET SO SIMPLE
Berries, a glass of wine or vodka and two squares of dark chocolate are recommended
The Low-Carb Healthy-Fat diet (LCHF) is designed to keep carbohydrate intake low, depending on how active you are and how quickly you want to lose weight. If getting slimmer, rather than general health, is your first concern, use weight loss mode (below) as your model, switching to health mode when your aim has been achieved.
- Weight loss mode (total 50g carbs): three meals a day and up to two snacks (if you’re hungry). Each meal should contain protein (¼ of the plate) and non-starchy salad and vegetables (½ plate) . The remaining ¼ should be healthy fats. In addition, eat berries (80g per day).
- Health mode (total 120g carbs): three meals a day and up to two snacks if you’re hungry. Each meal should contain protein (¼ of the plate), non-starchy salad and vegetables (¼ plate) and starchy vegetables, pulses or low-carb grains (¼ plate) with the remaining ¼ as healthy fats. In addition, enjoy berries (80g a day), a glass of wine or vodka (with slimline mixer) plus two squares of dark chocolate a day.
Each meal should have:
- Protein: Meat, poultry, fish: 100-150g per meal, but relish the chicken skin and savour the fat on a juicy steak.
- Eggs: Up to three a day.
- Vegetables: As many and as varied as possible.
- Fats: A large handful of nuts (not peanuts) or 2-3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp butter, coconut oil or nut butter, ½ avocado, 3 tbsp full fat yoghurt, 3 tbsp cream or coconut cream, 30-50g cheese.
- Drinks: Water (6-8 glasses a day), tea and coffee (ideally with cream but no sugar).
- Fruit: Berries 80g a day.
- Carbohydrates: Avoid in weight-loss phase but, if you are active, enjoy one tennis ball-sized portion (when cooked) per day of ‘dense’ vegetables such as beetroot, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn, peas, beans and pulses (lentils, beans and chickpeas) or ‘pseudo grains’ such as quinoa and buckwheat.
Curiously, the roots of LCHF go far back in history, to an eating regime known as ‘banting’, after a 19th-century British undertaker called William Banting, who popularised a weight-loss diet based on limiting sugary carbohydrates.
It worked wonders for the formerly obese Mr Banting himself and later became so well-known throughout Europe that in Scandinavian countries, banta is still the main verb for ‘to be on a diet’.
In its modern incarnation, it was designed not as a short-term ‘miracle weight loss’ programme, but as a long-term healthy way to eat.
Yet the bonus people have found is that they can lose up to a stone in a month, without counting calories and without feeling hungry. This is because our bodies process the foods we eat in different ways.
With a typical carbohydrate-based diet, carbs are converted into blood sugar, which your body burns for energy. Any excess sugar is converted to fat (under instruction from the hormone insulin) and stored away.
But if you restrict carbohydrates to 50g a day or less, your body can no longer get the energy it needs from sugars, so it has to bring in other mechanisms and fuels.
This is where fat comes in. You can get all the energy you need from fat stored around your body and from the fat in your food — there is very little physiological need for carbohydrates, and no place for sugar at all.
It’s a good idea to practise portion control for proteins and fats, and moderate your intake of ‘dense’ or starchy vegetables such as potatoes and parsnips.
The key to harnessing LCHF for weight loss is keeping your total carbohydrates below 50g a day. This liberates the body from the tyranny of sugar addiction and helps you lose excess weight naturally. But cutting right down on carbohydrates isn’t easy, unless you stock up on healthy fats to silence cravings and keep you feeling full.
‘I LOST MY TUM AND MY ACNE’: ALISON GURNEY, 34, SPEAKS ABOUT HER DIET CHANGE
Alison Gurney, 34, is married to business consultant Paul. They live in North London. She says:
When I decided to switch careers from primary school teacher to working in the health industry, I immersed myself in research on nutrition — and found myself bamboozled by conflicting advice.
The most compelling health message that really appealed to me was cutting out sugar.
In my early 20s, I was a classic size 14 carbohydrate-lover. I drank beer and loved chips. Every meal was based on potatoes, rice or pasta, and I had a real weakness for cakes and chocolate.
Although I wasn’t particularly overweight, tests showed I carried quite a bit of harmful visceral fat around my organs. I was what you call TOFI (thin outside, fat inside) and I had a tummy that no amount of low-fat dieting seemed to be able to budge. I was also prone to bouts of adult acne.
But two years ago, I gave up sugar entirely. I honestly didn’t find it difficult, but the impact was enormous. My belly disappeared and my skin was transformed.
I thought I’d find it hard to exercise without ‘fuel’ but, in fact, my energy levels soared.
At the same time, I switched from refined carbohydrates to brown rice, pasta and bread.
But I found I was still affected by bloating after meals, so I went fully low-carb and now stick to a wholefood diet of leafy greens, protein and healthy fats.
I still enjoy cakes sometimes, but I’ll make my own using coconut or almond flour sweetened with xylitol. Instead of mashed potato, I have cauliflower mash and instead of rice it’s cauliflower rice. I never feel deprived.
When I talk about nutrition with my clients, sugar is the first thing we discuss: it’s THAT important. I’m now a size 8 and have never felt healthier.
If you’re active — that is, you exercise regularly or your job keeps you on your feet — or you’re happy about your weight, you should be able to tick along on a higher carbohydrate intake — up to 120g a day — and still reap the banting benefits. But the plan only works if your carbohydrates come not from pasta, rice, bread and doughnuts, but from whole foods such as vegetables, pulses and fruits, which are packed with nutrients and which your body metabolises slowly.
The good news is, you won’t need to count calories. The new balance of nutrients and healthy fats in your diet should mean you’re not plagued by cravings. But if you’re a sugar addict (see our quiz on the back page of this pullout), your body could be well-practised at overriding natural satiety (fullness) signals.
That is why, until you reach your target weight, it’s a good idea to practise portion control for proteins and fats, and moderate your intake of ‘dense’ or starchy vegetables such as potatoes and parsnips.
If you suspect you might have addiction issues, you will need to re-teach yourself to listen and monitor matters until your dietary intake is back under your body’s natural control (see tips and tricks in tomorrow’s paper).
To succeed, you need to reappraise old ideas about nutrition.
To adapt to having no sugar and far fewer carbs in your life, you have to put something back — and this is likely to mean eating more healthy fats than you were used to.
It might seem counter-intuitive if you want to lose weight but fats slow digestion, keeping you feeling full. They are your secret weapon against sugar cravings. And plenty of respected studies now show that most fats — even saturated fats — are very, very good for your health.
This dietary change is what many people find hardest to get their heads around — but don’t go crazy and ignore the portion size suggestions above. If you graze on nuts or tuck into tubs of yoghurt all day, you will consume too many calories for the diet’s weight-loss effects to work. Yet if you follow the advice on these pages, you can start slimming — and feeling fabulous — in no time.
If you have diabetes or high blood pressure or are on any form of medication, check with your GP before making any dietary changes. There’s lots of research to show an LCHF diet brings blood pressure down if it’s high and can help to normalise blood sugar levels if you have diabetes (type 1 or 2). So keep a close eye on your blood pressure and blood sugar levels and be prepared to adjust your medication accordingly. Don’t do this without consulting your GP.
SCRUMPTIOUS DISHES SO GOOD YOU’LL NEVER FEEL DEPRIVED
The meal plans outlined today and recipes all this week will ensure your carb intake stays at or below 50g a day.
Our recipes and meal plans work out at 1,500- 2,000 calories a day, but older, less active, smaller framed people and women should have smaller portions than younger, fitter, largerframed males (who can raise the quantities slightly to between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day).
Grilled Halloumi Salad – Serves 1
Up to 60g halloumi cheese with 2 large handfuls young spinach leaves
1 handful rocket, ½ green pepper, 50g cucumber, with olive oil and cider vinegar dressing (3 parts oil to 1 vinegar)
Healthy: A handful of rocket, green pepper, and 60kg of halloumi help to make up this tasty halloumi salad
Method: Grill or fry the halloumi until it’s golden brown, then combine it with the salad ingredients. Whisk together the oil and vinegar to form a dressing and serve.
Tomato and Prawn ‘Pasta’ – Serves 1
100g courgettes, ½ onion, diced, 1 clove garlic, crushed, Coconut oil or butter, 80g mushrooms, ½ red pepper, 100g chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp tomato puree, 1 tbsp capers, ½ tsp mustard, ½ tsp garlic salt, 75-100g prawns
Alternative: This dish uses courgette instead of spaghetti before topping it with mushrooms, pepper and prawns
Method: Thinly slice the courgette into ribbons. Fry the onion and garlic in a pan with a little coconut oil or butter.
Next, finely chop the mushrooms and red pepper, add to the pan and fry until the mushrooms are soft. Add the tomatoes along with the tomato puree, capers, mustard and garlic salt.
Remove the sauce from the heat and, with a blender or food processor, blitz until smooth and thick.
Bring a pan of water to the boil and lightly blanch the courgette ribbons for 2-3 minutes while you return the sauce to heat to warm through.
Drain the courgette ribbons, pour sauce over them and top with the prawns.
Coconut Camembert – Serves 2
½ camembert cheese, 1 egg, beaten, 2 tbsp fine desiccated coconut, olive oil for frying, 30g baby spinach, 5 cherry tomatoes, 10 slices cucumber, 40g berries of your choice, balsamic vinegar, to serve
Make a salad by tossing together the spinach, tomatoes, cucumber and berries and serve cheese wedges on top, drizzled with vinegar
Method: Cut the cheese into 4 wedges; dip each wedge in beaten egg and then coconut to coat.
Heat the oil in a small pan and cook wedges for 30-60 seconds each side until golden brown.
Make a salad by tossing together the spinach, tomatoes, cucumber and berries and serve cheese wedges on top, drizzled with vinegar.
Creme Fraiche And Coriander Chicken – Serves 2
4 boneless chicken thighs, Butter or coconut oil, for frying, 1 tsp crushed garlic, 4 tbsp creme fraiche, 2 tbsp double cream,1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 handful fresh coriander, salt and pepper
Tasty: This chicken-based dish can be seasoned with salt and pepper to taste – and serves two people
Method: Dice the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces, then heat some butter or coconut oil in a large frying pan, add the chicken and garlic and cook for around 5 minutes, turning occasionally.
Add the creme fraiche, cream and mustard to the pan and stir until combined.
Allow the mixture to bubble for 1–2 minutes, then add the coriander and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Protein Pancakes – Serves 1
1 egg, ½ scoop (25g) whey protein powder, 30g butter atroom temperature, 1 tsp coconut oil, 2 tsp hazelnut butter, 6 strawberries, hulled and chopped
These protein pancakes are served best with nut butter and strawberries – and make a good snack when eaten cold
Method: Whisk the egg and add the protein powder and butter, then heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and ladle a spoonful of the mixture into the middle of the hot pan.
Cook for 2-4 minutes on one side, keeping the pan moving so it does not stick. Turn pancake over and cook for a further 2-4 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm with nut butter and strawberries (also makes an excellent snack when eaten cold).
Pork Stroganoff – Serves 4
1 onion, 3 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 450g pork fillet, sliced in thin strips, 250g closed-cup mushrooms, sliced, 200ml double cream, 2 tbsp creme fraiche, 1 tbsp mustard, 1 tsp sundried tomato paste, 1 tbsp paprika, 1 tsp chilli powder (to taste), 1 tsp lemon juice (to taste), salt and pepper
The pork has to be cooked until brown, before the mushrooms, cream and creme fraiche is added in
Method: Dice the onion and chop the garlic, then fry in coconut oil over a medium heat until the onion is soft.
Add the pork and cook until brown, then add the mushrooms and cook until soft. Once all is cooked through, pour in cream and creme fraiche and mix until covered.
Add the mustard and tomato paste and combine well. Add the paprika and chilli powder (if you like it spicy) and season with the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Full English – Serves 1
2 eggs (cooked any way you like), 3 rashers of bacon, 1 good-quality sausage (at least 80% meat), 1 flat mushroom
A full English breakfast – including bacon and sausages – can even be enjoyed as part of your meal plan
Method: Don’t be afraid to use a frying pan rather than grill for this recipe, and butter as a fat.
Not only will it keep you full, but it will taste delicious, too!
YOU CAN MIX AND MATCH ANY BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER – JUST USE THE PLAN HERE AS INSPIRATION
Breakfast: A big bowl of berries (50g) with 3 tbsp natural whole milk or Greek yoghurt, scattered with 1 tbsp coconut flakes and 30g mixed nuts.
Lunch: Grilled halloumi salad (see recipe).
Dinner: Tomato and prawn ‘pasta’ (see recipe).
Breakfast: Full English (2 eggs, 3 bacon rashers, 1 sausage with a flat mushroom (see recipe).
Lunch: 75g smoked salmon strips spread with 2 tsp cream cheese and cucumber slices, then rolled up.
Dinner: Creme fraiche and coriander chicken (see recipe).
Breakfast: Protein pancakes (see recipe).
Lunch: Chicken tikka strips in spicy full-fat yoghurt with cucumber wrapped in iceberg lettuce leaves.
Dinner: Coconut camembert (see recipe).
Breakfast: Egg, salmon and avocado platter (3 eggs, 50g salmon, ½ avocado,
6 cherry tomatoes).
Lunch: Greek salad (half a cucumber, 10 cherry tomatoes, halved, 50g feta cheese in chunks with 2 tbsp olive oil).
Dinner: Pork stroganoff (see recipe).
Breakfast: Nutty no-carb granola (see recipe on Thursday) with 3 tbsp yoghurt and 50g berries.
Lunch: Tuna nicoise salad with beans and anchovies (no potatoes).
Dinner: 100g steak with creamy mushroom sauce and a pile of green beans cooked in 2 tsp butter.
Up to two a day, but only if you’re hungry e.g. 10 olives, 30g hard cheese, ½ avocado with
balsamic vinegar or 50g nuts (not peanuts).
COULD YOU BE A SUGAR ADDICT?
Does the thought of living life sugar-free fill you with horror? If so, you may unknowingly be addicted.
In fact, sugar is believed to be eight times more addictive than cocaine. Some people are more sensitive than others, but the more sugar you eat, the more likely it has taken hold of your addictive pathways and is driving you to eat — and drink — far too much.
When sugar hits the bloodstream, it stimulates release of a brain chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel good. The feeling is usually short-lived.
By the time you’re licking the chocolate off your fingertips or picking the last crumbs of biscuit from the plate, your dopamine levels will probably have fallen, taking you into a mini-withdrawal.
This can trigger cravings for more sugar, urging you, against your better judgment, to pick up another biscuit or break off another square of chocolate so your brain can have another hit of dopamine.
Before long, the biological signals that would normally control hunger and satiety (fullness) are swiftly being overwhelmed by this dopamine stimulation, to the point where your body (and brain) starts listening only to sugar’s cues and ignores the fact that you have already eaten far more than you need.
If you have even the mildest addiction to sugar, there is every chance that your ‘off’ switch no longer works properly in response to eating, either. That’s why one biscuit or scoop of ice-cream never seems like enough, even after a huge meal.
The more sugar you eat, the more your tolerance adapts, so you end up needing more and more sugar to get the same boost — drug addicts and alcoholics experience the same cycle.
QUIZ: ARE YOU A SUGAR ADDICT?
Answer honestly yes or no to the following questions…
- Can you eat sweet, starchy or fatty foods until you are over-full?
- Do you feel hungry even after eating a full meal?
- Can you eat large quantities of sweets or stodgy foods even when you’re not feeling particularly hungry?
- Do you ever feel ashamed (self-loathing, disgusted or depressed) about your eating habits?
- Do you ever turn to sugar when you are feeling down or upset?
- When things are bad, do you find you need more and more sweet foods to feel better?
- Do you plan to eat a small portion (such as one biscuit), but end up binge-eating (demolishing the whole packet)?
- Do you find starchy, sweet or fatty foods the most difficult to cut back on?
- Do you find it difficult to stop once you start eating starches, snack foods, junk foods or sweets?
- Are your eating habits having an impact on your social life, work or physical abilities?
- Do you find impossible to stick to healthy-eating resolutions?
- Do you feel you need to (have to) have something sweet after lunch or dinner?
- Do you eat sweets and chocolates secretly and hide the wrappers because you don’t want anyone to know?
- If you cut yourself one piece of cake, do you then find yourself coming back for more and more?
- Do you get a foggy head after big meals (or mid-afternoon)?
If you answered ‘yes’ to five or more of these questions, you could be a sugar addict.
Your relationship with food may be stuck in a destructive pattern. Perhaps you comfort eat or binge. Perhaps sugar (including processed carbs and junk food) fills a greater void in your life than just satisfying a physical craving.
Sugar addiction is far more common than you might think. It often triggers a compulsive pursuit of foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates in response to both positive (‘let’s all celebrate with cake!’) and negative (‘only chocolate will make me happy’) feelings.
But quitting sugar is the nutritional reset that will enable you to break the cycle of reliance and addiction.
Although artificial sweeteners can confuse your system and make it tougher to quit sugar, if you rely on them long-term (they can ‘feed’ your sweet tooth and spark sugar and carb cravings), on occasion they can make the change to a sugar-free life easier. So avoid aspartame, Splenda and Canderel, don’t touch diet drinks and only use more natural sweeteners such as stevia and xylitol.
If, however, after two or three weeks on your LCHF programme, you are still feeling hungry or noticing sugar cravings, then sweeteners could be to blame, so gradually reduce your intake.
Any Withdrawal Symptoms?
You may experience slight physical discomfort, such as a headache, or cravings for sugar and carbs, but stick with the plan — this will pass. After a few days, you should notice improved physical well-being, less bloating, a clearer head, increased energy and improved mood.
Extracted by LOUISE ATKINSON from Sugar Free: 8 Weeks To Freedom From Sugar And Carb Addiction, by Karen Thomson, published by Robinson, £12.99. © Karen Thomson 2016. To order a copy at the special price of £9.74 (offer valid to July 16), visit mailbookshop.co.uk or call 0844 571 0640. P&P free on orders over £15.
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