The ultimate winter weight-loss plan: Lose up to half a stone in a fortnight

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Now the nights are drawing in, it’s natural to want something comforting and delicious to look forward to at the end of the day. And never more so than this winter as we battle further coronavirus restrictions, loneliness and anxiety about our health and jobs – all good reasons, you might feel, to reach for another chocolate biscuit or glass of wine.

But many of us also have concerns about our weight. Perhaps you’re struggling to shed extra lockdown pounds, or maybe you’d like to lose weight to reduce your risk of becoming seriously ill if you’re unlucky enough to get coronavirus. 

TREAT YOURSELF 

Choose up to two per day

  • 1 Custard Tart
  • 1 portion of Raspberry & White Chocolate Pavlova 
  • 1 portion of Blackberry & Pear Slump 
  • 1 chocolate-coated digestive biscuit
  • 1 small individual carrot cake slice
  • 1 level tbsp reduced-fat peanut butter With apple slices
  • 150g fish sushi pack
  • ½ pint of beer (approx 4%)
  • 25ml whisky with diet cola
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Perhaps you’d simply like your favourite winter clothes to fit a little bit better, and with Christmas on the horizon you may still want to get into last year’s festive finery for the big day.

But what if you could sit down to a hearty casserole or a warming winter pud, secure in the knowledge it could actually help you to lose up to half a stone in just two weeks* as well as enjoy new levels of self-confidence and energy? 

Well, to help you achieve just that, the Daily Mail has teamed up with Slimming World, the UK and Ireland’s favourite weight-loss organisation**, in this exclusive new series to enable you to shed unwanted pounds while tucking into your favourite winter dishes.

Starting this weekend in Weekend magazine, with a second helping in Mail on Sunday and continuing in next week’s Daily Mail, we’ll be sharing an enticing selection of filling breakfasts, nourishing lunches, hearty dinners and tempting desserts that will not only brighten a gloomy winter’s day but also put you on the road to a healthier, happier lifestyle.

‘Many people might feel that cheer is in short supply at the moment, but with Slimming World’s weight-loss plan you can look forward to something delicious and satisfying and still lose weight,’ says Dr Sarah-Elizabeth Bennett, senior research associate at Slimming World.

Learning to eat healthily without depriving yourself or feeling guilty about food is at the heart of Slimming World’s phenomenal success. Founded 51 years ago by Margaret Miles-Bramwell OBE after she battled unsuccessfully herself with restrictive diet plans as a young woman, there are now weekly groups in communities across the UK and Ireland, and hundreds of thousands of members in groups and online.

Its healthy eating programme, called Food Optimising, guides you to base your meals and snacks on foods that fill you up but are low in calories, and it’s rooted in the science of satiety (feeling ‘full’) and energy density. This means eating foods that satisfy your appetite and have the fewest calories per gram.

Recipes included in the range help cover breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert to make sure you stay well fed but healthy (stock image)

Recipes included in the range help cover breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert to make sure you stay well fed but healthy (stock image)

The plan encourages you to fill up on ‘Free Food’ – which you can eat without weighing, counting or measuring. Free Foods include lean proteins, pasta, rice, eggs, pulses and fat-free dairy as well as fruit and vegetables (see panel below). 

On top of these you’re encouraged to enjoy measured amounts of ‘Healthy Extras’ to ensure you’re eating a balanced, nutritious diet – these include foods such as milk, cheese, cereals and wholemeal bread that provide you with calcium, fibre and other important nutrients.

So that you never feel deprived, Slimming World encourages you to enjoy limited amounts of treats daily such as chocolate or alcoholic drinks, which are less filling and have more calories per gram. It’s all backed by solid science. 

A 2018 study by researchers from the University of Leeds and Slimming World published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that eating larger quantities of lower-energy-dense foods (such as Free Food) actually helped slimmers to lose more weight than those who followed a calorie-counting regimen.

You’ll boost your chances of beating disease too 

Researchers studied a total of 78 women classed as overweight or obese by their BMI (body mass index) for 14 weeks. Roughly half of them followed Slimming World’s Food Optimising programme while another group followed a standard NHS calorie-counting programme (with calorie allowances calculated to take into account individual energy requirements based on start weight, gender, age and activity levels). 

The researchers found that those who ate lower-energy-dense foods felt less hungry and more in control of their weight (and so consumed fewer calories) than those eating high-energy-dense foods. This helped the Slimming World group lose more weight than the calorie-counters – with them losing an average of 12.8lb each in 14 weeks compared with the calorie-counting group who only lost 7.3lb.

The weight-loss results meant the Slimming World group lost, on average, more than 6 per cent of their initial body weight. This is important because research shows that losing 5 per cent or more of your original body weight is the threshold at which numerous health benefits are triggered including improved liver function and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

TOP TIPS FOR SUCCESS 

  • Trim all visible fat off meats and remove skin from poultry.
  • For extra health benefits and filling power, choose wholegrains (eg wholemeal pasta or wholegrain rice) where you can.
  • Aim to have between six and eight drinks a day – choose water, sugar-free soft drinks, tea and coffee. Remember, any milk needs to come from your allowance.
  • The most successful slimmers join a group or online programme for shared support, inspiration and motivation.
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Researchers also found that greater levels of satisfaction and motivation among the Slimming World group helped them to stick with their new healthy-eating habits.

Being part of a Slimming World community is also key. ‘Members who attend groups achieve the greatest success,’ says Dr Bennett. ‘Trained Consultants and other members in a similar situation are always on hand for advice and tips.’

Once the pounds begin to slip away, you should also find you have more energy, more confidence and your mood will improve too – particularly valuable for anyone feeling low due to the pandemic. What’s more, scientists agree that losing weight can boost your body’s chances of fighting disease this winter. 

‘The sooner you start, the sooner you will begin to reap all the benefits of making changes that can last a lifetime,’ says Dr Bennett.

So why not make a start today by trying out one of these mouthwatering recipes? We have included three below, with the rest included in Weekend Magazine – so remember to pick up your copy.  

As our series continues, you’ll find recipes for creamy risottos, spicy curries and even a fish and chip pie.

One thing’s for sure – there’s not a soggy lettuce leaf in sight! 

* Slimming World recommends a safe and steady weight loss of 1-2lb per week, but you may lose more in your first weeks.

** More people in the UK and Ireland choose to attend a Slimming World group each week than any other weight-loss group.  

HOW TO USE OUR 5-DAY MEAL PLANNER

1. Choose one breakfast, one lunch and one dinner every day. More recipes in Weekend Magazine. Repeat meals you enjoy, with more ideas at slimmingworld.co.uk.

2. Foods printed in bold are ‘Free Food’, which you can enjoy whenever you like without needing to weigh, measure or count. Base meals around Free Food such as lean meat, plain tofu and Quorn, fish, pasta, rice, potatoes, eggs, pulses, fat-free dairy, fruit, vegetables and more. If you get hungry between meals, snack on these foods. For the very best weight loss, reach for fruit or vegetables first.

3. As well as Free Food, stock your store cupboard with fat-free dressings, herbs, low-calorie cooking spray, oil-free tomato purée, seasonings, soy sauce, spices and stock cubes, most of which can be used freely.

4. To support a healthy balanced diet, Slimming World encourages you to enjoy measured amounts of foods that provide calcium, such as milk and cheese (two per day), and those providing fibre, essential minerals and healthy oils, such as wholemeal bread, high-fibre cereals, crispbreads, nuts and seeds (one per day). 

These can be enjoyed as part of meals, and where we’ve included them in this plan we’ve given measurements. If you’re enjoying the foods separately, in hot drinks or as a snack, use these portion sizes: choose 350ml skimmed milk, 250ml semi-skimmed milk, 400ml plain unsweetened soya milk with added calcium, 30g full-fat hard cheese, or 40g reduced-fat hard cheese. You’ll find out about other varieties when you join.

Also choose from a 60g wholemeal roll, two slices of wholemeal bread (from a small 400g loaf), 60g wholemeal pitta or 60g brown, high-fibre white or multi-seed, gluten-free bread/roll.

5. Additionally you can have two snacks per day from the treat list above.

Slimming World advises stocking your cupboard with fat-free dressings, herbs, low-calorie cooking sprays, oil-free tomato puree, seasonings, soy sauce, spices and stock cubes (stock image)

Slimming World advises stocking your cupboard with fat-free dressings, herbs, low-calorie cooking sprays, oil-free tomato puree, seasonings, soy sauce, spices and stock cubes (stock image)

 

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BREAKFAST

BAKED OATS

This delicious-looking baked oats recipe (pictured) is very simple to put together and serves one person

This delicious-looking baked oats recipe (pictured) is very simple to put together and serves one person

Serves 1 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.

Put 40g plain porridge oats, 3 level tbsp skimmed milk (from your allowance), 1 egg, ½tsp vanilla essence and ¼tsp ground cinnamon in a deep ovenproof dish that leaves room for it to rise as it cooks. Mix well and cook in the middle of the oven for 20 mins, or until golden.

Serve with a dollop of fatfree natural fromage frais or plain quark and some fresh diced peach.

LUNCH 

 CINNAMON PRAWNS

Cinnamon prawns (pictured) sounds almost too good to be true, but Slimming World have included them in their menu

Cinnamon prawns (pictured) sounds almost too good to be true, but Slimming World have included them in their menu

Serves 1

Place ½tsp Thai fish sauce, ½tsp ground cinnamon, ½tsp curry powder, 1tsp oyster sauce and ½tsp soy sauce in a wide bowl.

Add some large raw, peeled king prawns (with or without tails) and coat well. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, place a wide, non-stick wok over a high heat. Add some roughly chopped mixed Asian greens (such as choy sum or bok choy), carrot batons, 25ml boiling water, a splash each of oyster sauce and soy sauce, peeled and grated fresh root ginger and crushed garlic. 

Stir-fry until the greens have wilted. Transfer to a plate and cover.

Add some chopped onion, extra grated ginger and crushed garlic, and 25ml boiling water to the wok and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the prawns, marinade and some sliced spring onion, and stir-fry until the prawns are cooked through. 

Serve hot with the veg and lime wedges to squeeze over.

DINNERS

THAI RED FISH CURRY 

This rich red Thai fish curry (pictured) is packed full of veg and spices to offer the perfect balance of flavour and health benefits

This rich red Thai fish curry (pictured) is packed full of veg and spices to offer the perfect balance of flavour and health benefits

Serves 4. Ready in 30 mins 

  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 level tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 200ml reduced-fat coconut milk
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1tbsp fish sauce 
  • A pinch of sweetener granules

 

  • 4 skinless and boneless cod fillets, cut into small chunks
  • 400g baby pak choi, leaves separated
  • 150g sugar snap peas
  • 100g baby sweetcorn, sliced lengthways
  • ¼ of a small pack of fresh coriander, leaves picked
  • Boiled dried rice, to serve

 

Spray a large, non-stick wok or frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a medium-high heat. Stir-fry the shallots for 3-4 minutes, until softened. 

Add the curry paste and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Pour in the coconut milk and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 8-10 minutes. 

Add the lime juice, fish sauce and sweetener, then add the fish and simmer for a further 5-6 minutes, or until just cooked through.

Meanwhile, boil the pak choi, sugar snap peas and baby sweetcorn for 3-4 minutes, then drain well. Stir the vegetables through the curry along with half the coriander leaves. 

Divide the curry between 4 bowls. Scatter the remaining coriander over and serve with the rice. 

What you get as a Slimming World Member

Many Slimming World groups have reopened with a few changes to keep everyone safe and reassured.

Please book in with your local Consultant before going to a group. As a member, you will get…

  • Access to more than 50 years of experience, expertise and science.
  • The warmth, understanding and community of a real-life Slimming World group.
  • 24/7 access to Slimming World’s members-only website – with over 1,400 delicious recipes, meal plans, weight-loss strategies and articles.
  • Slimming World’s members-only app – including the Slimming World barcode scanner plus tools, planners, menus and more.

To find your nearest Slimming World group – or find out about Slimming World Online or our temporary virtual groups – visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk or call 0344 897 8000.

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