Struggling to lose those last few pounds before your holiday? Rick Hay, Healthista’s nutritional director provides a healthy eating plan plus seven healthy ways you can lose those last few pounds before jumping on that plane to paradise
Okay so before we do anything, let’s be clear on one thing. Your body is beach ready whenever you feel it’s beach ready. But if you have a number in mind that you want to see when you step on those scales or want those summer shorts to fit a little better, then we’re here with a plan that is nutritionist approved and safe.
We’re not claiming you can change the way you look in just one week, but if you want to lose pounds fast, you don’t always need to turn to a fad diet that will end in tears and tantrums. You can lose the pounds healthily.
If you’re off on holiday in just one week’s time and only a few pounds off your goal, don’t leave this page. If you’re off to a summer festival and wish those shorts were ever so slightly looser, then this is a read for you. Here are six healthy ways to lose weight in a week and detailed eating plan to help you get there.
1. Cut down on that cut of steak
In this day and age we are all aware of the importance of a plant-based diet. With vegetarian and vegan diets more popular than ever we know that it’s ideal to fill up our plates with as many plant based and colourful foods as we possibly can.
‘Plant based foods are nutrient dense, low in calories and high in both protein and fibre,’ says Hay. ‘These factors are all important and key to a healthy balanced diet.’
Although meat has many benefits and is a staple ingredient on most peoples plates, we shouldn’t be overdoing it. Too much meat can be hard on your digestive system, taking longer to pass through. According to Hay, if you limit or cut back on your meat intake (even if only slightly) you are more likely to lose those last few pounds.
Eating less meat and focusing on filling up our plates with more fruit and veggies, will also help with cleansing and regulating our blood sugar levels – ‘this means less cravings and snack attacks’ explains Hay.
An abundance of B vitamins are found in colourful vegetables so aim to eat a rainbow of brightly coloured one. B vitamins such as B7, are incredibly important for our macronutrient and carbohydrate metabolism and for energy production. ‘Essentially this means that these vitamins help keep the digestive system on track and fully functioning’ Hay explains. ‘A fully functioning digestion is integral to successful weight-loss.’
Plant-based food also provides us with a wide range of vitamins and minerals that support energy production, and we need energy for exercise in order to lose weight. So fill up on veggies to boost your energy and feel great.
2. Spice up your your food
Adding some spice to your cooking is a guaranteed and tasty way to help boost your metabolism – result.
Setting your metabolism into a high gear by eating spices and drinking herbal teas, will significantly help lessen bloating symptoms.
Thermogenic (fat burning) spices are used to aid fat metabolism and can be used together with herbal teas to help reduce fluid retention and bloating. Add chillis, turmeric, cumin and cardamon to your cooking to increase their thermogenic or fat-burning factor.
Read more: 6 healthy spices with proven body benefits
Sometimes it isn’t just the last few pounds that bother us, but the bloating that we just can’t get to the bottom of. Setting your metabolism into a high gear by eating spices named above and drinking herbal teas such as fennel, dandelion and ginger, will significantly help lessen bloating symptoms.
3. Prioritise healthy liver and gall bladder
It’s important to not just focus on one aspect of health. Health needs to be looked at and approached from all angles to benefit your overall health and well being.
Encouraging a healthy liver and a gall bladder may not seem top of the priorities list but is in fact so important for your health when trying to lose some weight.
Looking after your liver and gall bladder by including some bitter foods in your diet such as rocket, grapefruit or bitter salad greens will help to maintain healthy liver and gall bladder function and therefore a better fat metabolism. By having a half a grapefruit or bitter green leaf salad before eating, you encourage your body to release digestion-promoting enzymes that can help food break down.
A healthy liver will also aid hormonal regulation. Stimulating liver function and digestion whilst providing nutrient dense recipes will not only keep you fuller for longer and stabilise blood sugar levels, but will also significantly help when it comes to those weight-loss goals.
4. Make healthy food swaps to stop bloating
Foods such as wheat, dairy and processed meats tend to cause that unwanted bloating feeling. These types of foods are harder to digest and ‘many people suffer from wheat and dairy intolerances which can throw digestion out of whack,’ explains Hay. This will lead to a compromised and sluggish system, making it harder to shift those pounds.
Try incorporating these four food swaps as much as possible to lessen that bloated feeling:
Swap pasta for courgetti
This swap provides you with more nutrient density and is also much lower in calories – a great choice for weight management. As a bonus you’ll be getting one of your five a day plus less wheat and more fibre to help with bloating.
Courgettes are an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is great for immunity and brilliant for skin texture and health. Courgettes provides a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin – these are two phytonutrients from the carotenoid family which can be beneficial for good eyesight. Our favourite spiraliser ever, the Uten Vegetable Spiralizer Slicer Hand Held Spiral Slicer Easy Clean Kitchen Tool for Potato,Carrot,Cucumber is only £6 and makes it super easy and takes up very little space too.
Swap rice for cauliflower rice
Cauliflower rice is another good low calorie option (around 25 calories per 100 compared to about 140 for cooked white rice) that also packs a nutritional punch.
By changing from rice to cauliflower rice, you are helping the body to detox. The humble cauliflower is rich in glucosinolates which helps to activate the detox process and help lessen bloating. Full of sulphur rich compounds, cauliflower is excellent for immunity too.
One cup of cauliflower rice will deliver a good dose of vitamin C and K with almost zero grams of fat, sodium or sugar – bonus.
To make cauliflower rice, grate, blend or food process the cauliflower and then shallow fry, steam or microwave for a couple of minutes.
Swap fries for roast sweet potato chips
A medium sized potato comes in at around 170 calories, whereas the same sized sweet potato is less calorific at 100 calories.
Not only does the sweet potato have fewer calories, it also has more fibre. This fibre helps with digestive function, meaning less bloating and a lower cholesterol.
Sweet Potatoes also have tonnes more vitamin A than white potatoes which have hardly any. In fact, sweet potatoes are one of the richest sources of beta carotene, which is needed to covert to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is also known to help boost thyroid function which if sluggish could hold back your weight loss results.
To make the most out of your sweet potato fries thinly slice the sweet potato into wedges about 2mm thick, leaving on the fibre-rich skin. Lightly drizzle with a little olive oil or and roast for 30 minutes or until crispy. Season and serve.
Swap refined sugar for honey or maple syrup
Refined sugar is pretty much empty calories where nutrition comes in. Honey and maple syrup however, still contain the sweetness but with strong nutritional profiles.
Honey has been used for it’s medicinal anti bacterial properties for generations. It contains key nutrients such as iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. (Try Raw Health Organic honey, £5.69)
Maple syrup is antioxidant rich and has a lower GI than regular sugar, (54 vs 65 – honey comes in around 50) as well as having some digestive system benefits such as lessening bloating.
5. Take a herbal tea-break
Herbal teas have become increasingly popular, especially digestion helpful teas such as green and mint flavours. ‘Green and mint teas are great for digestion, so are fennel, ginger, turmeric and lemon balm flavours,’ says Hay. (Try Ginger Kick Tea, £2.39)
These teas will be a huge help for digestive function and fluid retention which are both important factors for weight loss. Herbal teas are also an easy and convenient option to gently stimulate the digestive process. Aim to drink one to two cups per day for best results.
Do you struggle to drink the suggested two to three litres of water a day? Most people do. By drinking herbal teas you are also upping your water intake without realising.
Read more: 8 ways a cup of tea CAN fix anything
6. Think, eat and live healthy protein
Throughout your day, each meal or snack should focus on protein. Protein keeps you fuller for longer, lessening cravings and regulating blood sugar levels.
Aim to fill a third of your plate with protein based foods, such as lean meat, fish such as salmon, tuna, prawns or white fish or veggie options such as chick peas, beans, lentils, tofu and tempeh and then, make sure the rest of the meal is as close to natural ingredients as possible.
When snacking, ‘take care that your snack contains a protein component,’ suggests Hay. So if you’re having a banana, have some peanut butter with it, if you’re having an apple, have ten almonds alongside it to help keep you full between meals. (Try Meridian Coconut & Peanut Butter, £2.69)
‘Remember, eating more plant-based foods keeps our fibre levels up and that helps keep us regular,’ says explains Hay. This encourages blood sugar regulation (less cravings) and regularity. If your bowel transit is too long (he means if you go for longer than one day without doing a poo), this could hamper with your weight loss efforts, says Hay.
Fill up on green vegetables, pulses such as chick peas, lentils, beans and fruit such as pears, apples, berries and kiwi. If you’re struggling with the amount of solid fruit and veg, try veggie or fruit juices.
A healthy gut is paramount to having a balanced system – without it all body other systems can suffer.
Rick Hay’s healthy 7-day fast and safe weight loss plan
Some people tend to get so caught up in losing the weight, that once the weight has been lost they reward themselves a little too much and can find themselves back to square one.
This healthy seven day plan will not only help you to lose the last few pounds, but can also be repeated monthly to keep your weight-loss or management on track so you don’t find yourself having to start your weight-loss journey all over again.
‘This mostly plant based plan uses thermogenic spices, is high in fibre, stimulates digestive function to help bloating and is nutrient dense. This is what all healthy diets should incorporate,’ says Hay.
Hay adds, ‘this plan goes the extra mile by using botanicals to stimulate the liver and to reduce bloating, it promotes healthy elimination, reduces cravings and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.’ Not only does this plan focus on weight loss, but energy too. This plan will help to boost your energy levels and improve your mood naturally though eating whole and real foods.
The are two menus, one is for days one, three, five and seven and the other for days two, four and six to provide variety in your diet. Lunches and dinners can be interchanged and as mentioned previously, this plan can be repeated every month if desired.
Menu #1 Days one, three, five and seven
Kick starting your digestion will help the liver and gall bladder with fat metabolism, and also assisting with fluid retention.
This breakfast booster will also help to regulate your blood sugar levels and diminish those cravings. Add cinnamon if desired to further help reduce those nagging cravings.
Raspberry delight – two cups of raspberries, one cup of spinach, one teaspoon cacao, two teaspoons chia or linseeds, blend with 200mls of unsweetened hemp or almond milk. (Try Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almond Milk, £1.79) or try:
Banana blast – blend 250 mls of unsweetened rice, almond or coconut milk with one banana, a date, seven to eight almonds and a scoop of Healthista Lean VeganDiet Protein £24.95.
This shake is a meal replacement, it is high in protein and amino acids and will keep you full until lunch. The nuts and protein powder will provide the protein and the nuts will give you essential fatty acids to help with feelings of fullness.
Green tea or matcha green tea will stimulate fat burning and promote healthy circulation. Their bitter quality means that they are liver and gall bladder tonics. Matcha green tea and green tea will also help to stimulate digestion in general. Weight loss is more easily achieved if you have can stimulate sluggish digestion. (Try Pukka Mint Matcha Green tea, £2.99)
Eating every few hours will help to control portion size. Regular eating will also help to regulate blood sugar levels, helping to eliminate cravings.
Tomato Salad – 3 or 4 small tomatoes with a couple of handfuls of salad leaves of choice such as rocket, mixed leaves or spinach. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh cracked black pepper.
Add small amount of grated cheese or vegan coconut cheese as a thin topping with some protein rich pine nuts. Serve with two rice, corn or crisp bread crackers. (Try Raw Health Supergreens Crisp Breads, £4.49)
The vinegar and black pepper aids fat metabolism, whilst the olive oil provides a good source of healthy omegas which also aids weight loss. The crackers or crisp breads provide carbs to provide energy. Or try,
Spinach and asparagus frittata – slice or spiralise two asparagus stalks and add them into a bowl of two cracked free-range eggs and mix. Fry this mixture gently in olive oil and add a sprinkle of parsley.
Asparagus is a diuretic as is the parsley. Both of these ingredients will help with fluid retention and puffiness. Spinach is super easy to digest and provides muscle relaxing magnesium benefits. Relaxation benefits lead to less stress leading to less of that nasty visceral fat, the overloaded and stressed adrenals will therefore get a break.
Banana and prunes – a few prunes or a glass of prune juice if you prefer, together with one banana.
If you’re constipated its harder to lose weight, the banana provides fibre and energy (both physically and mentally) it contains tryptophan to help boost serotonin levels. Or try,
Mixed nuts and seeds – this will provide protein to help keep you full and satisfied till dinner.
Cashew nut stir fry – lightly fry in olive oil two cups of mixed vegetables, such as courgette, mushrooms, carrots, green beans with one teaspoon of grated fresh ginger. Add in also a handful of cashew nuts when the vegetables are almost ready. For taste you can also add some basil and sesame seeds.
Serve with some rice noodles or brown rice as these are gentler on the stomach and a better alternative to white rice.
This plant-based dinner is high in fibre and full of nutrients to boost digestion and keep you full.
Fish, chicken, tofu or tempeh with salad – small piece of grilled fish, organic chicken, tofu or tempeh served with a bowl of green leaves and dressed with olive oil. You can add almond slivers or pine nuts, olives and some citrus fruits if desired, such as orange or grapefruit.
The greens will help to cleanse the colon. The olive oil and nuts will provide omega fatty acids that will also help to cleanse the intestine, whilst the fish, chicken, tofu or tempeh will provide the protein and help keep you full.
Chocolate – have two or three squares of dark chocolate or vegan chocolate for a bitter but tasty treat.
Dandelion tea – drink a cup of unsweetened dandelion tea with dessert. Dandelion tea is a great weight loss hack, it helps to reduce fluid retention whilst also acting as a liver cleanser.
The bitter qualities help to reduce cravings and will assist with skin conditions as it aids liver function.
Menu #2 Days two, four and six
This liver tonic will also help regulate blood sugar levels and diminish cravings. Add cinnamon if desired to further help reduce cravings.
Chai bowl – one cup of fresh or frozen mixed berries with a dollop of non sugary yoghurt – preferably organic. Add also, five or six almonds and one or two teaspoons of chia seeds to help with satiety and also hair, skin and nail health.
Berry boost smoothie – blend half a cup of blueberries and half a cup of raspberries (frozen or fresh) together with half a small beetroot, in 200mls of unsweetened coconut milk.
This shake is a meal replacement and is high in protein and amino acids. This smoothie will keep you fuller, is nutrient dense and rich in fibre to ensure balanced blood sugars. Energy levels should also boost which will help with any workouts you may be doing.
Green tea or matcha green tea will stimulate fat burning and promote healthy circulation. Their bitter quality means that they are liver and gall bladder tonics.
Matcha green tea and green tea will also help to stimulate digestion in general. Weight loss is more easily achieved if you have can stimulate sluggish digestion. (Try Pukka Ginseng Matcha Green tea, £2.99)
Watermelon is a natural diuretic and a good source of potassium which will balance sodium levels and decrease
Dress the courgetti with pine nuts, garlic and olive oil.
Banana and prunes – a few prunes or a glass of prune juice if you prefer, together with one banana.
If you’re constipated its harder to lose weight, the banana provides fibre and energy (both physically and mentally) it contains tryptophan to help boost serotonin levels.
Mixed nuts and seeds – this will provide protein to help keep you full and satisfied till dinner.
Vegetable and lentil soup – add a cup of lentils (sachet or canned) or beans to two cups of sliced/chopped green vegetables to 300 ml of water. Simmer slowly and add turmeric, chilli and ginger.
This dinner is easy to digest and the thermogenic herbs will speed up fat loss.
Fish, tofu or tempeh with steamed greens – lightly fry or grill 150g of a white fish, tofu or tempeh. Serve together with a cup or two of green steamed vegetables and season with thermogenic spices such as cayenne, chilli, garlic or black pepper to boost weight loss.
Dessert, stewed apple, peach or pear: stew one apple, peach or pear and add some fibre rich sultanas or raisins, add also a little cinnamon, chilli or cayenne to boost fat burning.
With dessert, a liver cleanse: cup of unsweetened dandelion tea. A great weight loss hack, dandelion tea reduces fluid retention whilst also acting as a liver cleanser. The bitter qualities help to reduce cravings.
A green ‘bedtime shot’ – Organic Spirulina powder, £10.95.
Hay reccomends that ‘if you feel you’ve been overdoing it or feel the need for more energy, this green shot is rich in iron and magnesium, helping to cleanse and detox the body – it’s organic too.’ The cleansing nature will help you to detox gently, it’s full of magnesium to aid the nervous system which will assist in your weight loss.
This ‘green bedtime shot’ should be taken at night after dinner. One teaspoon will increase nutrient intake in particular, if you havn’t been getting your five a day and want to speed up the cleansing action a bit, then this bedtime shot is what you need.
Rick Hay is an Anti-Ageing and Fitness Nutritionist with many years clinical experience in nutrition, naturopathy, botanical medicine and iridology. He specializes in obesity treatment and weight management. He writes a regular Natural Health and Fitness Blog for Healthista. Find out more at rickhay.co.uk. Follow Rick on Twitter @rickhayuk