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HEALTH & FITNESS: Can you lose weight in two weeks?

PUBLISHED: 15:19 31 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:17 02 July 2010

What Emma ate in a typical day while on the diet. PHOTO: ADRIAN JUDD

What Emma ate in a typical day while on the diet. PHOTO: ADRIAN JUDD

Emma Harrowing

EMMA HARROWING tries a revolutionary diet that is said to help you lose weight just by eating a well balanced diet. Does it work?

EMMA HARROWING tries a revolutionary diet that is said to help you lose weight just by eating a well balanced diet. Does it work?

It's obvious really; if you want to lose weight you need to consume less calories than you burn off.

If you know this then why is it so difficult to lose excess weight?

The answer lies not in faddy diets that restrict the foods you can eat, nor is it in some intensive exercise regime where you workout five times a week to burn off extra calories. Both are difficult to stick to in the long term so any we you do lose will soon be put back on once you start eating normally or you find that you do not have time to go workout as much as you have been.

Perhaps the most sensible way to lose weight is to still eat the foods you are eating (especially if you generally eat a healthy and well balanced diet) but just reduce your portion sizes.

Cutting down the amount you eat per meal is difficult. How big should your 'portion' be? Do you eat three meals a day or can you have snacks?

These are some of the questions answered by a diet that makes sure that you only eat the right amount of food for you.

Norwich based Bodysculpt offers a personalised fitness and nutrition program to help you get in shape. The nutritional program encourages healthy eating and controlled portion sizes, so that you can lose weight without restrictions on the types of foods you eat.

“Many people lose a stone in a month just by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and reducing their portion sizes so that they eat five or six small meals a day,” says James Robinson, personal trainer for Bodysculpt.

“Most people eat too much but it's not until you see how much you actually need for your body to function that you can see how much you over eat.”

To find out if this diet actually works I decided to try it for two weeks.

Bodysculpt brings you all the food you need in a wicker hamper. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are carefully measured into portion sizes that are right for you.

Before starting the diet I made sure that there was nothing in my food cupboard or fridge so that I would not be tempted to eat extra food.

I was also asked to fill in a food diary for three days and I had to give my weight, height, how much exercise I did in a week, plus any dietary requirements. From this data James and his team of nutritionists and chefs could calculate how much food I should eat in one day and how much I should eat if I wanted to lose weight.

When the first hamper arrived at my door I was amazed by the amount of food in it. All food and drink that I was allowed over the next four days was included so I didn't have to cook, shop or worry about how much I was eating.

Breakfast was good. A big bowl of muesli with soya milk and a glass of water (water was the only thing I could drink and I was expected to drink two litres of water a day). Mid morning I had a cereal bar and banana, then for lunch I had a pasta salad with tomato sauce. The portion sizes were a little bit smaller than usual but I had enough to feel satisfied.

However, after a long day at work I was looking forward to a substantial dinner. Cod Mornay was on the menu and I couldn't weight to heat it up and tuck in.

However, when I tipped the dish onto my plate it only filled about a quarter. Usually I would eat a whole plate full of food in the evening and would usually go back for seconds. This was going to be tough.

By day three I was so hungry that I turned into a grumpy monster who could only think about food.

Before my diet I was eating between 1800 and 2200 calories per day. Now that I was eating what was deemed the correct portion sizes for my lifestyle I was eating between 900 and 1096 calories per day. It was a big drop and it felt like it.

Says James: “Don't forget that you will feel hungry at the start as your body adapts to the new amount of food being replaced. It's important to remember that the diet you are on includes plenty and all what your body needs to function on properly. It just goes to show how much people overeat!

“Your metabolic rate naturally slows down a little when you lose weight causing you to burn less calories from fat. In Emma's case we need to tailor things so that you lose weight on a slightly lower calorie intake than you have been used to.”

The diet allows you to have one free meal a week, which is ideal if you are out with friends (at first I had visions of having to take the microwaveable meal with me for the chef to heat up!) James and the Bodysculpt team really go out of their way to make sure that the diet fits in with your lifestyle. So, for example, if you go away on holiday or on business and you cannot put food in a fridge they will alter the diet to work around it.

By day four when my weekend hamper was delivered I was tempted to eat the entire hamper. Yet I was enjoying the fact that I didn't have to go shopping in a busy supermarket for my food and when I got home from a busy day at work my food was already prepared for me, plus there was very little washing up to do. And the food tasted fantastic and I was eating foods such as smoked salmon for dinner, and I had delicious packed lunches to take to work - there was just not enough of it!

Although I could have two free meals during my two week trial I stuck to the diet. Okay so I did have a latte (albeit without sugar) as I was missing my caffeine fix…and some chocolate…but on the whole I stuck to the diet.

By week two I started to get used to the smaller portions and I was enjoying eating a range of foods that I knew would be providing me with all the nutrients I need. I started to eat a few more bananas if I felt hungry (usually mid morning and late afternoon). I also realised that I used to eat a lot more in the evenings not because I was necessarily hungry but through the need to munch on something when I watched TV.

When the last hamper was delivered I had mixed emotions. A big part of me would miss eating delicious foods that were all prepared for me, but I also couldn't wait to tuck into a big roast!

So did I lose any weight? After two weeks on the diet I lost nine pounds and my body fat week on week dropped from 26.7pc to 23.4pc.

I had been eating a variety of foods such as curry, chilli, fish pie, meat balls and spaghetti, cous cous, soups, pasta salad, rice salad, muesli, cereal bars, blueberries, bananas, strawberries, apples; but the portion sizes were a lot smaller than I usually eat. It was no surprise that I lost weight, but I was surprised that I lost so much.

My clothes did feel slightly looser and friends said that I looked slimmer. I also felt lighter, I felt that I had more energy and I could walk quicker.

The real test would be could I manage to keep the weight off?

“The main way to keep the weight off is to exercise,” says James. “Making sure that you burn off the calories you consume is the only way you will not put the weight back on.

“In terms of your diet though, remember to drink plenty of water and eat those smaller portions. If you have some of those containers left from the diet, you could try and measure your food out in there-you will be hard pressed to fit more than 500 calories in a container(unless you were to melt chocolate in there), so three of those a day, and you will be on roughly the right calories for your body.

Also try and eat slower, as it takes around 20 minutes for your stomach to let your brain know your full, so if you scoff your food down in 5 minutes in front of the TV, people tend to often overeat. Eat slower, and you will give your brain time to process how full you are. Eat too fast and your brain won't tell your body that you're full until you've overeaten. There was study a couple of years ago which found that women who chew each bite 20 times consume 67 calories less than those who don't.”

A month after the diet I have out on a bit of the weight I lost. However, I have still lost four pounds, which I have managed to keep off thanks to knowing how much I should be eating in one day.

Bodysculpt can be contacted at www.body-sculpt.net

Special offer: For one month only Bodysculpt are offering you a discount on their food programme. The two week food service (which Emma was on) now costs £170 (was £210). For one month it costs £310 (was £395) and if you want to do the diet as a couple it costs £605 for a month (was £750).

James Robinson is the Life Matters fitness expert. Ask him your questions by signing up to the Evening News Forum and posting your comments on the Life Matters Ask the Expert section at www.eveningnews24.co.uk/lifematters

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