Choose your diet
The diet below is a simple, calorie-controlled plan that is easy to follow and will effectively help you lose weight, but there are many speedy weight-loss plans available. If you don't want to follow the diet in this book, make sure you do your research and choose a plan that is suited to you. It's important to choose something that you can stick to: whether it's high protein/low-carbohydrate, low-fat or low-sugar.
Fast diet plan
This diet aims to help you lose up to 4 lb a week, which will mean reducing your calorie intake. We recommend 1200 calories a day.
The recommended daily calorie intake is 2000 calories for women and 2500 calories for men. Before you start your diet, it may be worth calculating your current daily intake. If you normally eat a lot more than the recommended amount. it's advisable to gradually cut down you're calorie intake over a few days. That way. you're less likely to end up hungry in the first few days, which can be the hardest. You don't want to give up on day one!
Below is a suggested calorie breakdown for your day. You don't have to stick to this - some people prefer a hearty breakfast but others may want a big dinner at the end of the day. You can break it down however suits you, but just remember to stick to the maximum 1200 calories.
Breakfast: 250 cal
Lunch: 350 cal
Dinner 350 cal
Other 250 cal
Be careful with your "other' calories -these allow for your drinks and snacks, not a big bar of chocolate or a packet of crisps' Remember that it's about choosing good foods, too.
[panel style="panel-info" title="How long?" footer=""]The fast diet is not designed as a long-term plan, and although it's perfectly safe for a short amount of time, it's unadvisable to continue this low-calorie plan for more than two weeks. However, that doesn't mean that you have to give up after week two. See page 18 for a higher calorie plan that you can move onto when you're ready. You'll still continue to lose weight, but at a more steady rate.[/panel]
Slower diet plan
Whether you've completed your first two weeks at 1200 calories a day, or you want to start dieting at a slower pace, here's a calorie-controlled plan that allows a little extra! Up your calorie intake to 1400 calories a day, for steady, continual weight-loss.
Breakfast: 300 cal
Lunch: 420 cal
Dinner 420 cal
Other 260 cal
The same principle applies as with the tower-calorie plan. Break up your calories as you choose, but make sure you're taking into account everything from your morning coffee to the cheeky biscuit in the afternoon.
Don't get caught out with food and drink that you expect to be low-calorie. Milk, juice and tea all contain calories, and it can be more than you expect. A good technique is to research the food and drinks that you like, and make a little diary of calorie contents that you can keep with you to help you work out your intake.
[panel style="panel-info" title="How long?" footer=""]This plan is safe to continue for up to ten weeks, and you should expect to lose up to 1 or 2 lb a week. Remember to exercise as well - this will speed up your weight-loss and you'll feel fantastic![/panel]
The right foods
It's important to eat the right foods when you're cutting your calories, to keep you fuller for longer. Fibre is great for breakfast, and protein is good for filling you up. too. See page 26-29 for the best and worst foods to eat, plus see page 22 for how to read food labels.
Just because you're on a diet doesn't mean you can only eat salad. The recipes in this book are all designed to suit a fast diet, and contain ingredients that are healthy, nutritious and most importantly, delicious. Each recipe also contains the calories per portion, so you don't have to spend time working it out.
Plan your menus
Once you're ready to get started, plan a week's worth of menus in advance. Don't forget to include drinks and snacks - every calorie counts! You're much more likely to stay under your daily calorie target if you plan ahead. There are plenty of low-calorie recipes in this book, and you can find many more online. Try to stay within your comfort zone when cooking though: attempting complex dishes can be frustrating, so stick to meals that won't cause you any hassle.
Preparing for a fast diet means getting in shape: physically and mentally. It's going to be hard work, so make sure you are ready for it. You need to be focused to get results. Set yourself specific goals, and be realistic about what you think you can achieve in the time you have. Working small rewards into your plan is a great motivator, too.
From a physical point of view, it's a good idea to get plenty of sleep in the week or two before you start your diet. When you reduce your calorie intake, you may start to feel tired, so its crucial not to start the diet if you already feel exhausted. Also, try going to bed earner during your diet - an extra hour's sleep will help you to feel your best.
A lot of the weight you lose at first will be water, so it is really important to stay hydrated when you are dieting. Drink plenty of water in the week before you start. Once the diet begins, keep an eye out for the symptoms of dehydration: thirst, dark urine, headaches, dizziness, tiredness and a dry mouth can all be signs that you need more water.
Have a clear out
It you are faced with things you're not allowed to eat every time you open the fridge, you'll find it much harder to stick to your diet. Give yourself a fresh start by emptying your cupboards or anything tempting and high-calorie, but do not eat it - a last-minute binge is a terrible way to start a new diet!
Reading Food Labels
To slick to a reduced-calorie diet, you will have to become an expert at reading food labels. All packaged foods are required by law to list their calorie content, as well as amounts of certain ingredients. However, working out how much you'll actually be eating sometimes can be tricky.
The most important thing to check is the suggested serving size. Food labels usually give calorie figures per 100 g (3 1/2 oz) of the food and 'per serving'. This can be whatever the manufacturer thinks is a reasonable serving size. It is often on the small side to make the food seem less fattening. Try weighing out a serving of breakfast cereal and you will probably be surprised at how small the 'suggested serving' really Is. You will need to weigh everything you eat rather than guessing. The figures calculated per 100 g (3 1/2 oz) are useful, too - by comparing these, you can tell at a glance whether one food has more sugar or fat than another.
No labels, no problem!
Fruit and vegetables will make up a big part of your diet, but they do not have nutrition labels. Why not download a chart showing their calorie content so you have it to hand when you shop? Some people download a calculator app to help them work out how many calories are in the food they are buying.
[panel style="panel-primary" title="Traffic lights" footer=""]Some foods have labels on the front of the packaging that show you at a glance whether they are high in certain nutrients, such as sugar, fat or carbohydrates They usually use a 'traffic light1 system; red for high, amber for medium and green for low. If you are rushing to finish your shop, these can be a quick way to tell If you should avoid a particular food.[/panel]
by Chris Ching
With a nick name of Chris Smile because of the warm smile on her face all the time :) Believes that by empowering the public to have more information and knowledge in healthcare, we will have a better healthcare environment and experience. View all articles by Chris Ching.