The plan, which is endorsed by The National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute and The American Heart Association, was devised to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol and help ward off diabetes. However, its amazing ability to help people lose weight has quickly turned it into a bestseller.
Now, just in time for Christmas, Heller has turbo-charged the original regime to create 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 in time for your Christmas party — without counting a single calorie or following a punishing fitness regime.
But unlike other crash diets, which can have an adverse effect on your health, this one is scientifically proven to boost health.
Over the next two weeks, you can not only drop a dress size and flatten your tummy, but fire up 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 whether you’ll be able to squeeze 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 are eating. The key is to choose lean proteins and healthy fats that will help to fill you up and control your appetite, rather than spend time worrying about the things you need to avoid.
Unlike other crash diets, which can have an adverse effect on your health, this one is scientifically proven to boost health
Divided into two phases, the diet promises not only to help you lose weight — in particular around your stomach area — but has been proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and developing diabetes.
Phase One of the DASH diet (the initial two weeks of the programme that we will be outlining here) is a low-carbohydrate transition period designed to reset your metabolism.
This protein-rich eating plan — which cuts out fruit and wholegrains for 14 days — will keep you feeling satisfied for longer and, because it’s low in carbs and sugars, also helps trigger fast, immediately visible weight loss.
Phase Two then reintroduces wholegrains, fruit and starchy vegetables in order to maintain and continue your weight loss, as well as improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Heller says that although the DASH diet is not designed to be an aggressive weight-loss regime, and results will vary from person to person, people tend to lose around 5lb in the first two weeks — and between 10 lb and 35 lb over a period of two months.
So 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. You can eat as much non-starchy veg as you want to — there are no limits. You should also include protein-rich foods, such as lean meat, fish, low-fat cheese and nuts, that increase satiety, helping to reduce snacking by keeping your blood sugar levels more stable.
By cutting out starchy and sugary foods, your metabolism will operate more efficiently, since you will have a reduced demand for insulin (the hormone that keeps blood sugar levels in kilter). You will also notice you are eating lighter, healthier foods, which will make you feel more energised.
Within the first few days, you will notice your waist shrinking as you lose belly fat, which tends to build up when we eat large amounts of carbohydrates.
Here’s how to do it . . .
PHASE 1: Lose that bulge in 14 days
For the next 14 days, include moderate-sized servings of these three food groups in every main meal (ie. breakfast, lunch and dinner). As a guide, a portion of meat, fish and poultry should be the size of your palm. A handful of beans, nuts, lentils and soy foods is about right. A portion of cheese should be the size of a small matchbox.
1. Foods that are protein-rich and low in saturated fat. These include:
- Lean meats
- Fish and poultry
- Beans and lentils
- Soy foods
- Low-fat cheeses
- Unsweetened or artificially sweetened yogurt (one small pot per day)
Eat foods that are protein-rich and low in saturated fat like lean meats
2. Heart-healthy fats. These are foods that contain omega-3 and polyunsaturated fats, which have been shown, if eaten regularly, to have beneficial effects on circulation and 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.
3. Foods that are protein-rich and contain healthy fats. These include:
- Nuts (preferably non-roasted and unsalted) and seeds
- Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel.
As much sugar-free, fruit-flavoured jelly as you want — this will become your fruit and dessert substitute. All vegetables, with the exception of starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn, are also unlimited.
Avoid...Starchy foods (other than beans). This means no: bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, all foods fried in batter, sugary foods (which includes fruit, fresh, frozen, dried or tinned), alcohol, caffeinated beverages, milk.
Snack on healthy nibbles such as vegetable crudites
SIX STEPS TO SUCCESS
- Eat three meals a day, plus a morning, afternoon and optional pre-dinner snack. Do not skip any of the main meals or snacks. This will keep your blood sugar steady, and help you avoid hunger.
- Challenging fitness activities such as jogging, Zumba, aerobics, cycling and weight training should be avoided. Instead, try to do no more than 30 minutes of light or moderate activity per day. Moderate activity such as walking or gentle yoga will keep blood sugar stable and burn belly fat.
- 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.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid caffeine and instead aim for at least eight glasses of water, vegetable juice and herbal tea a day.
- Don’t cut out salt altogether. This 14-day programme can be dehydrating. Without starchy and sugary foods, your body will flush out excess fluid more quickly than usual. Allowing yourself to have plenty of drinks and a moderate amount of salty foods will help prevent too much fluid loss.
- 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. It is absolutely ok to weigh yourself daily; it will build an aura of success. Although weight loss will vary widely from person to person, you can expect to lose at least 5lb over the fortnight.
PHASE 2: KEEP THE WEIGHT OFF FOREVER
After this initial reset phase, if you want to continue losing weight and feeling well you are ready to move on to Phase Two.
Working your way through Phase One, you will have already learnt to make your meals more satisfying with proteins, non-starchy vegetables and heart-healthy fats.
DID YOU KNOW?
The average Briton gains half-a-stone over the festive season- not surprising considering Christmas dinner can contain 4, 000 calories