The DASH Diet
What would you say if you were told it was possible to get a flatter stomach and drop a dress size just in time for Christmas, all without counting calories, spending hours at the gym or resorting to unhealthy faddy eating?
This is the guarantee of a new diet that has taken the US by storm. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was developed by nutritionist Marla Heller, and was recently voted the healthiest diet in the United States by a panel of doctors.
The plan was endorsed by The American Heart Association and The National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute. It was devised to lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and help ward off diabetes. However, its ability to help people lose weight has quickly turned it into a runaway success.
Heller has turbo-charged the original regime and created an even more powerful weight loss plan. In this exclusive extract from her new book, The DASH Weight Loss Solution, Heller explains how her simple diet can transform your figure just in time for your Christmas party, all without counting a single calorie or following a grueling fitness regime. The DASH diet will leave you healthier than ever, compared with usual crash diets which can be bad for your health.
Over a period of 14 days, you can not only drop a dress size and flatten your stomach, but you can kick start your metabolism and train your appetite to resist all those calorific treats you’ll be tempted by over the festive season. If you’re worrying about squeezing into that unforgiving party dress this season, the DASH plan is a godsend.
So how does it work? Instead of counting calories and fussing over fat, Heller says the best way to lose weight is to focus on the type of foods you’e eating. The key for this diet is to choose lean proteins and healthy fats that will help to fill you up and control your appetite, rather than spending time worrying about the things you can’t eat.
The DASH diet is divided into two phases. Phase one (the initial two weeks of the program that we will be outlining here) is a low carbohydrate transition period designed to reset your metabolism. This protein-rich eating plan – will mean you cut out fruit and whole grains for 14 days, this will keep you feeling satisfied for longer and because it’s low in carbs and sugars, also helps trigger fast, immediately visible weight loss.
During phase two, continue with the week one diet plan; however you can now start to reintroduce fruit, starchy vegetables and whole grains to your diet. During your time on the DASH diet, Heller says you can expect to see around a 5lb weight loss in the first 2 weeks and then between a 10lb-35lb weight loss over a period of 2 months; however this will vary person to person. What are the key things you need to change about your eating habits to see results before Christmas? First you will learn to consume lots of vegetables, there is no limit on the amount of non-starchy vegetables you can eat, so fill up on as many of those as you please. You should also try and include as much protein rich food as possible into your diet, good sources include; fish, lean meat, nuts and low-fat cheese, these will help reduce snacking by keeping your blood sugar levels stable. By cutting out sugary and starchy foods, your metabolism will start to operate more efficiently; this is because you will have reduced demand for insulin (the hormone that keeps blood sugar levels balanced). You will notice that because you are eating lighter, healthier foods you will feel more energised. Within the first few days you will notice that your waist is starting to shrink as a result of the belly fat you are losing. Belly fat tends to build up when we consume a large amount of carbohydrates, here’s how to do it …
Phase one: Lose that bulge in 14 days
For the next 2 weeks you must include moderate sized servings of these three food groups in every main meal (i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner). As a guide a portion of meat, fish and poultry should be the size of your hand. A hand full of beans, nuts, lentils and soy foods is about right. A portion of cheese should be the size of a small matchbox.
- Foods that are protein-rich and low in saturated fat. These include: eggs, low-fat cheeses, Soy foods, fish and poultry, lean meats, unsweetened or artificially sweetened yoghurt (one small pot per day), beans and lentils.
- Heart-healthy fats. These foods contain omega-3 and polyunsaturated fats, which if eaten regularly have been shown to have beneficial effects on circulation and can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Good sources include: Vegetable oils, especially olive, rapeseed and nut oils. Note that coconut oil and palm oil are excluded, since they are high in saturated fat, along with salad dressings, especially those based on these two oils. Avocados.
- Foods that are protein-rich and contain healthy fats. These include: Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel. Nuts (Non-roasted and unsalted) and seeds.
PLUS… You can eat as much sugar-free, fruit-flavoured jelly as you want. This will become your fruit and dessert replacement. All vegetables, with the exception of starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes, are also unlimited.
AVOID… Starchy foods (other than beans). So this means no: pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, milk and all foods fried in batter, sugary foods (fruit, fresh frozen, dried or tinned)
FIVE STEPS TO SUCESS
- Challenging fitness activities such as zumba, jogging, aerobics, cycling and weight training should be avoided; instead try and do 30 minutes of light moderate activity per day. Moderate activity includes walking or gentle yoga; this will keep your blood sugar level stable and burn body fat.
- Drink plenty of fluids and avoid caffeine, try and drink at least 8 glasses of water, vegetable juice and herbal tea a day, this 14-day programme can be dehydrating. Don’t cut out salt all together, without starchy or sugary foods, your body will flush excess fluid more quickly than usual. Allowing yourself to have plenty of drinks and a moderate amount of salty food will help prevent too much fluid loss.
- Eat three meals a day plus a morning, afternoon and optional pre-dinner snack. You must not skip any of the main meals or snacks. This will keep your blood sugar steady, and help you avoid hunger.
- Go to bed earlier. You may initially feel less energetic on this two-week ‘jump start’ programme. Don’t worry – your energy levels will go back to normal once you move on to phase two of the programme.
- Relax. You may get frustrated in the middle of the jump-start period. Your body is going through lots of changes, all for the better. Keep going – it will get easier. Focus on your weight loss results. Your success will keep you motivated and make it easier to stay on track. Although weight loss will vary from person to person, you can expect to lose 5lb over the fortnight.
You should have a breakfast, lunch, dinner, mid-morning, and mid-afternoon snack every day if you feel you need it, you can also have a pre-dinner snack.
Breakfasts – Choose one
- One sliced or boiled egg served with one or two slices of grilled lean bacon and a small glass of tomato juice.
- Two scrambled eggs plus a small slice of roast beef and sliced tomatoes.
- One turkey and cheese roll-up (place a large slice of turkey on top of a slice of reduced fat cheese, such as Leerdammer Lightlife, and roll up) plus a glass of vegetable juice.
- Egg white omelette (made using two egg whites and a squirt of cooking spray) with lean ham and mushrooms.
- A handful of mixed nuts with vegetable crudités (celery, radish, carrots, cucumber and peppers are all suitable)
Snacks – Choose one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon
- One stick of low-fat cheese served with celery sticks
- One dessert spoon of peanut butter with celery sticks
- Two tablespoons of low-fat cottage cheese with crudités
- One Babybel Light cheese plus a handful of carrot batons
- One small no-fat yoghurt plus ten walnuts or cashews
Lunches- Choose one, plus a pot of sugar-free jelly for dessert)
- Large tomato stuffed with low-fat cottage cheese with chives and black pepper, served with a side salad.
- One grilled chicken breast served with a large green salad dressed with vinegar and olive oil.
- One can of flaked tuna in spring water mixed with light mayonnaise and finely chopped pepper and onion, served with a large salad dressed with oil and vinegar dressing.
- One grilled Portobello mushroom topped with one thin slice of ham and a sprinkle of low fat cheese.
- Two or three ham and cheese roll-ups (place a slice of low-fat/light cheese on top of a slice of lean ham). Served with a tablespoon of raw coleslaw topped with an oil and vinegar dressing and cucumber.
Pre-dinner snacks- Optional
- Tablespoon of low-fat hummus with crudités
- Handful of unsalted, roasted peanuts or pistachios (approx 20)
- Red pepper strips with a tablespoon of guacamole
Dinners- Choose one, plus pot of sugar-free jelly for dessert
- Grilled pork chop with mashed cauliflower and green beans with balsamic dressing.
- Three bean salad served with a large green salad
- Stir-fried salmon portion with Chinese vegetables (use a Chinese or Thai spice paste for flavouring)
- One lean grilled beef burger served with a vegetable salad, sprinkled with pine nuts and oil and vinegar dressing.
Phase two: Keep the weight off
After this reset phase you have decided to continue losing weight and feeling well, you are ready to move on to phase two. Now that you have worked your way through phase one, you have learnt to make your meals more satisfying with non-starchy vegetables, heart-healthy fats and proteins. In phase two, you should carry on eating some protein and make sure you are still eating plenty of vegetables at every meal , but now you can start to add whole grains (no more than 3 portions) and fruit (2 portions) to your daily diet. You can also increase up your exercise regime with more aerobic and toning exercises. One portion of wholegrain = 1 slice wholemeal bread; half a wholemeal muffin; half a whole meal bread roll; half a cup cooked whole meal pasta or brown rice; half a jacket potato or three new potatoes with skins on, or one tbsp wholegrain cereal. One portion of fruit = 1 small piece of fresh fruit; half a glass of fruit juice; 1 dessertspoon of dried fruit; 2 tbsp of canned fruit in juice. You will continue to lose weight, although slightly more slowly after the initial reset phase, but it’s a plan you can enjoy for life.