Ok lets get real. Perhaps a toned, fit body in just 12 days is a little unrealistic. But it’s entirely possible to have a damn good go, and make a real difference to how you look and feel in a little under 2 weeks.
- Get your head around the idea – no more putting it off, no more excuses of summer barbecues to attend or other social occasions will thwart your plans. In summer it’s easy to eat well – we don’t generally crave comforting, wintery carbs so much. Your plan will begin on a Monday and end on a Friday, leaving just one weekend to get through. It’s manageable, and hopefully you’ll feel so good you’ll maintain some of the changes after the 12 days.
2. No sugar or processed foods. High GI/GL foods mess with blood sugar levels, triggering insulin release and fat storage, normally right around the stomach (the last place we want it). They also impact energy levels and mood, meaning we’re more likely to give in to temptation. This point typically impacts breakfast cereals, snacks and sandwich lunches most. So ditch the cereals, sugar and processed foods for your 12 days. Take a look at our breakfast and snacks recipe categories for inspiration!
3. Reduce caffeine and alcohol. We all know they don’t help us to look great. Opt for metabolism-boosting green tea, fresh herb teas, vegetable juices and lots of water – with ginger, lemon or cucumber to flavour.
4. Reduce, ideally eliminate grains for your 12 days. If you don’t want to skip all grains, just focus on moving away from wheat, which is just plain hard to digest, and high in gluten. Many people feel miles better and lose inches from their waist following a grain-free, paleo (caveman type) diet and research suggests that our modern gluten grains may not be as good for us as we once thought. If you’re cutting grains, you’ll need to really up your veggies and legumes to keep your nutrient and fibre intake up – so plenty of salads and vegetables with every meal – which ties in nicely with point 6 below.
If the thought of going grain-free is panic-inducing, minimise instead, and opt for gluten- free ones (certified gluten-free oats, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, amaranth). Our flax crackers are great with dips for a mid-afternoon snack or light lunch.
5. Eat only top quality protein sources: choose pasture fed meats, organic eggs, live natural yogurt, organic or wild fish and a portion of seeds and nuts each day. Yes nuts. Did you know that regular nut eaters lose more weight than nut teetotallers?
6. Eat at least 8 portions of vegetables and fruit a day, aiming for two thirds veggies to one third fruit. This, together with nuts, seeds and pulses should bump you over the minimum recommended daily 18 grams of fibre. Along with protein and fats, fibre makes us feel less hungry. It’s not as hard as you might think to get more vegetables into the diet:
- British summertime is the perfect time to load up on chicory in salads, roasted asparagus, or artichoke dips. A recent study found that inulin, a type of fibre found in all of these switches on an ‘anti-appetite’ molecule, making us feel less hungry
- Making a green smoothie each day is an easy way tick off at least three portions in one go. Add half an avocado as the base (i.e. with spinach, mango and strawberries, thinned with nut or coconut milk) to make a really filling drink
- Snack on dips with raw veggies
- Use soups or salads for lunch (make sure to include protein or you’ll be hungry soon after)
- Your evening meal should include a protein source and at least half a plate of veggies
6. Don’t diet. Most diets significantly reduce calories every day, tricking the body into thinking a famine is happening; the thyroid gland slows and stores more calories than before; when the diet ends, all the weight – and more goes straight back on. Simply eat enough so that you’re not hungry, making sure that every morsel that passes your mouth counts in nutrition terms; there should be no empty calories from junk foods or drinks. Intermittent Fasting (the 5:2 diet) works for weight loss as it confuses the body by reducing calories only a couple of times a week.
It’s a common-sense, 12 day plan – throw in a little cardiovascular and weight bearing exercise as well, and you’ll be looking and feeling great in no time at all.