The happy diet!


Yes, you can eat up while slimming down – Lowri Turner shows you how to turbo charge your metabolism

Holiday seaon is on the horizon and that can only mean one thing – bikini body! If you want a bit of help in shaping up for summer, you’re in luck, cheating your metabolism to work in your favour will trick your body into shedding the pounds that little bit faster. Hoorah!

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the speed with which you burn calories doing everyday tasks like walking and sitting – and it varies from person to person. To lose weight and stay slim, you need a fast BMR, which is what your twig-like pal may have. You, on the other hand, may have one with all the va-va-voom of a sleepy snail.

So what can you do? The bad news is that dieting – particularly crash dieting – can slow down your BMR even further, as the body goes into starvation mode and tries to hold on to as many calories as possible. Dieting also tends to burn muscle as well as fat – and the less muscle you have, the more your BMR slows.

So, might as well sit on the sofa with a packet of Doritos, eh? Not so fast. The good news is that you can speed up your metabolism with BMR-boosting foods like chilli, salmon, sweet potatoes and berries. And the pattern of your meals can add a further jump-start. Top those off with muscle-building exercise and you have a recipe for losing weight and /keeping/ it off.


• Capsaicin – a compound in chilli, cayenne and paprika – speeds up your metabolism for a short time after it’s eaten. Just a tsp of chilli powder could increase calorie burning after a meal by as much as 20 per cent, so go ahead and spice up those salads.

• Salmon, mackerel and other oily fish are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Essential for cell signalling (the system governing development, tissue repair and immunity) and blood sugar regulation, they also rev the BMR.

• Sweet potatoes are high in B vitamins – which help unleash energy from food – and an antioxidant called glutathione that may make your metabolism motor.

• Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are packed with BMR-friendly B vitamins, plus they’re low in fructose too, so a a great way to help keep your sweet tooth in check.

• Lean protein foods such as eggs, low-fat dairy and skinless chicken all help repair and build muscle. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat – which meand it burns more calories.

• Green tea and good quality dark chocolate are both high in beneficial antioxidants but, for metabolism purposes, the key component is caffeine. This stimulates your heart rate, which speeds up the BMR. Black coffee is also high in caffeine, but can stop you sleeping. As sleep deprivation has been shown to increase appetite, coffee’s off-limits.

• Drink water. Every chemical reaction in your body occurs ‘in solution’ – that is, in water. Without sufficient water, your metabolism slows down. Make sure you fill up on eight glasses a day.

Make your BMR boom!

 Chill out Drink iced water and alternate bursts of hot and cold water when you’re in the shower. Being cold stimulates the BMR, while going from hot to cold fires up your lymphatic system, flushing toxins from your body.

 Increase weight-bearing exercise
Weight training, running and walking help build muscle and raise your BMR.

 Make time for breakfast
When you wake, your body is in a ‘fasting state’, with your BMR and blood sugar at their lowest. Digesting breakfast cranks up your metabolism. Having a good breakfast also means you’re less likely to snack during the day.

• Eat regularly
When you eat, your metabolism speeds up, owing to the energy required for digestion. Aim for three small meals and two snacks per day. If you skip meals, your body goes into starvation mode and holds on to those precious calories!

• Create a calorie deficit with cardio
If you eat too little, your metabolism slows. So rather than restricting your intake of calories, increase your exercise to create a calorie deficit (the difference between the energy you eat and the energy you expend).

 Yo-yo? No, no
When you lose weight, you lose muscle and fat. But, if you gain the weight back, you gain only fat. So the more you crash-diet, the more you tip your body composition away from good, BMR-enhancing muscle. Take the weight off slowly and steadily and keep it off with healthy eating and exercise.

The 7-Day Mega Metabolism Plan 

This seven-day plan includes recipes. The writer bundled these all at the end of the feature, but it would be annoying for readers to turn to different pages to follow the plan, so I’ve incorporated the recipes into the days. This means each recipe should appear on the same page as the day it applies to, please.

Make the most of the plan

• Begin the day with a glass of iced water. Drink at least five more per day.

• Eat as many fresh/whole foods as possible.

• Eat everything on the diet. You may swap whole days, but don’t substitute meals or add food or snacks.

• Don’t add oil or butter. Bake, steam or dry fry rather than deep-frying

• Avoid alcohol, but do drink green tea and/or hot water with lemon.

• Eat breakfast before 8am and dinner before 8pm.

• Space your meals and snacks evenly, so you eat every two to three hours.

Snack list

Choose one item for your morning snack and one for the afternoon.

• 2 sticks celery and 2 tablespoons low-fat cottage cheese mixed with a little horseradish.

• 1 carrot, cut into sticks, and 2 tablespoons guacamole with added paprika.

• 1/3 cucumber, cut into sticks, with 2 tablespoons spicy fresh salsa (chopped tomatoes, peppers, chilli, lime juice and fresh coriander).

• 1 apple and 5 almonds.

• 1 pear and 6 walnut halves.

• 2 clementines and 1 tablespoon pumpkin/sunflower seeds.

• 50g fat-free Greek yoghurt with 2 tablespoons frozen berries, sweetened with 2 teaspoons stevia/agave nectar.

• 1 high-protein cranberry brownie /(see recipe)/, no more than 3 times per week!

High-protein cranberry brownies

These have a sweet, chocolatey taste, with the cranberries adding sharpness. Brilliant for balancing serotonin and dopamine, they’re the perfect mood-boosting snack!

Makes 12 brownies • Preparation 10 minutes + cooling • Cooking 25 minutes

• Coconut oil for tin, plus 11/2tsp extra

• 75g self-raising flour

• 40g cocoa powder

• 175g stevia-based natural sweetener or xylitol, plus 2tbsp extra

• 25g walnuts, chopped

• 100g low-fat vanilla yoghurt

• 3 eggs, beaten

• 1tsp vanilla extract

• 25g cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4. Lightly oil a small baking tin. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl, then add the natural sweetener and walnuts and mix well.

2. In another bowl, beat together the yoghurt, eggs, vanilla extract and 11/2tsp coconut oil. Gradually add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat until well combined. Take care not to over-mix. Carefully fold in the cranberries with a metal spoon.

3. Spoon the mixture into the baking tin. Smooth the surface with the back of the metal spoon. Bake for 25 minutes until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

4. Remove from the oven and cut into equal squares. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before serving. (You’re allowed a maximum three in a week so store the rest in an airtight container or share with friends.)

Nutrition per brownie: 82 calories • 2.5g protein • 7g carbs • 5g fat


On waking 1 glass iced water

Breakfast Blueberry pancakes /(see recipe)/; 1 cup green tea

Morning snack Choose from list

Lunch 1 medium baked sweet potato with 100g cottage cheese and a small side salad

Afternoon snack Choose from list

Dinner Chinese chicken stir-fry (toss 100g skinless chicken breast, broccoli and sugar snap peas in a wok with fresh ginger, garlic and chilli, soy and 1tsp sesame oil). Dessert: 2 squares good quality dark chocolate

Blueberry pancakes

American-style pancakes are associated with belly-busting breakfast buffets, but they don’t /have/ to be fattening. These are low in fat and high in protein, to keep you feeling full. They’re also quick and easy to make.

Serves 2 • Preparation 5 minutes • Cooking 12 minutes

• 80g rolled oats

• 125g low-fat cottage cheese

• 2 eggs, beaten

• ½tsp vanilla extract

• 125g blueberries, plus 45g to serve

• Coconut oil

• 150g low-fat Greek yoghurt

• 2tbsp agave syrup

1. Put the oats, cottage cheese, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Slowly beat together to make a thick, smooth batter. Using a large metal spoon, carefully fold in the blueberries, taking care not to break them up.

2. Preheat the oven to 100°C/200°F/Gas Mark 1/2. Lightly oil or spray a nonstick frying pan and put on a medium heat until it just starts to smoke. Pour 1tbsp of the batter into the pan to make a pancake, then repeat, spacing the pancakes slightly apart. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until the tops bubble and the edges begin to brown. Transfer to a heatproof plate and keep warm in the oven while you repeat with the remaining batter – you should have 8 in total. Lightly oil the pan again if necessary.

3. To assemble a stack, top 1 pancake with 1tbsp of yoghurt. Place another pancake on top, then another 1tbsp of yoghurt. Repeat until you have a stack of four pancakes and top the stack with the remaining yoghurt. Repeat for a second serve. Drizzle each stack with agave syrup and serve with blueberries.

Nutrition per serving: 292 calories • 22g protein • 57g carbs • 12g fat


On waking 1 glass iced water

Breakfast California superfood omelette /(see recipe)/; 1 cup green tea

Morning snack Choose from list

Lunch 1 fillet of cooked salmon with mixed leaves and 1tbsp oil and vinegar dressing

Afternoon snack Choose from list

Dinner 100g lean diced pork or Quorn curry made with 1tsp curry paste and 50g low-fat Greek yoghurt, with ½ cup brown rice. Dessert: 2 squares good quality dark chocolate

Calfornia superfood omelette

Omelettes are high in protein, which makes you feel full and helps you to manufacture serotonin (the ‘good mood’ hormone), dopamine (the ‘high motivation’ hormone) and leptin (the ‘I’m not hungry’ hormone). Eggs also contain vitamin D, which is an appetite-suppressant, while the yolks have choline, which helps you feel focused. The perfect way to start your day!

Makes 2 • Preparation time 10 minutes • Cooking time 20 minutes

• Coconut oil

• 6 eggs, beaten

• Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 50g low-fat mature cheese, grated

• 1 tomato, chopped

• 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced

• 2 handfuls of alfalfa sprouts

• ½ handful of chopped coriander leaves

• ½ lemon, halved, plus extra wedges to serve

1. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Lightly oil a non-stick frying pan with cooking spray. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and lightly whisk with a fork.

2. Add half of the egg mixture to the pan. Shake it to evenly coat the base. Grill for 5 minutes, occasionally pulling the edges of the mixture towards the centre of the pan, until set.

3. Slide the omelette onto a plate. Sprinkle over half of the cheese, tomatoes, avocados, sprouts and coriander, followed by a squeeze of lemon juice.

4. Fold the omelette to enclose the fillings and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining egg mixture and fillings to make another omelette. Lightly oil the pan again if necessary. Serve hot with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Nutrition per serving: 346 calories • 13g protein • 1g carbs • 22g fat • ??g fibre


On waking 1 glass iced water

Breakfast Fruity yoghurt crunch /(see recipe)/; 1 cup green tea

Morning snack Choose from list

Lunch Chicken lettuce wrap: top 1 iceberg lettuce leaf with ½ pack sliced, skinless chicken, 1 tomato and ½ avocado, sliced, and 1tsp fresh chopped mint. Top with another lettuce leaf.

Afternoon snack Choose from list

Dinner Smoked mackerel pate: mash ½ fillet of smoked mackerel with 2tbsp fat-free Greek yoghurt, squeeze of lemon and pinch of cayenne pepper. Serve with 1 wholewheat pitta bread, toasted and sliced, and a small side salad. Dessert: 2 squares good quality dark chocolate

Fruity yoghurt crunch

Serves 2 • Preparation 10 minutes • Cooking 2 minutes

• 8g whole almonds

• 8g sunflower seeds

• 300g low-fat Greek yoghurt

• 100g watermelon, skin removed, deseeded and cut into bite-sized pieces

• 75g blackberries or blueberries

• 2tsp agave syrup

1. Put a nonstick frying pan on a low heat. Dry-fry the almonds and sunflower seeds for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely, then roughly chop.

2. Spoon 1tbsp of the yoghurt into a tall glass. Top with a layer of watermelon and blackberries. Repeat the layers until you reach the top of the glass. Repeat with the remaining ingredients in another glass. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and sunflower seeds. Drizzle with agave syrup and serve.

Nutrition per serving: 159 calories • 14g protein • 18g carbs • 4g fat


On waking 1 glass iced water

Breakfast 2 scrambled eggs with 50g smoked salmon

Morning snack Choose from list

Lunch Brown rice sushi /(see recipe)/

Afternoon snack Choose from list

Dinner Vegetable chilli: sauté 1 chopped courgette, ½ yellow/green pepper and ½ aubergine. Add ½ tin chopped tomatoes, squeeze of tomato puree, 1tsp stevia/agave nectar and pinch of mixed herbs. Simmer till veg is tender. Dessert: 2 squares good quality dark chocolate

Brown rice sushi

Serves 2 • Preparation 20 minutes + 30 minutes soaking + 10 minutes chilling • Cooking 45 minutes

• 125g brown sushi rice

• 40ml rice vinegar

• 1tbsp stevia-based natural sweetener or xylitol

• ½ red pepper, deseeded and cut into matchsticks

• ½ avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into long slices

• 2 sheets of nori seaweed

• Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

• Soya sauce, to serve (optional)

• Japanese horseradish, to serve (optional)

For the mayonnaise

• 95g silken tofu, roughly chopped

• Small handful chopped basil leaves

• 1 garlic clove, peeled

• ½tbsp coconut oil

• ½tsp wasabi paste, plus extra to serve

1. Rinse the rice under cold running water for 1 minute. Drain and transfer to a heavy-based saucepan. Pour in 270ml cold water and leave to soak for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the mayonnaise. Put all the ingredients, except the wasabi, in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the wasabi. Cover and chill in the fridge until needed.

3. Bring the soaked rice to the boil over a medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight lid and simmer for 40 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

4. Put the vinegar and sweetener in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until the sweetener dissolves. Pour the mixture over the rice and mix well.

5. Spread 2-3tbsp of rice evenly over each nori sheet, leaving a 2cm gap at the top and bottom of the sheet to allow you to roll it up. Press the rice down with the back of a teaspoon to make a compacted, firm base. Arrange 2 pieces each of the pepper and avocado in the centre of each sheet. Top with 2tsp of the mayonnaise.

6. Roll each nori sheet to look like Swiss rolls. Press gently to seal the edges (the heat of the rice should stick them together). If the ends do not stick, wet them with a little water. Wrap the rolls tightly in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

7. Unwrap the rolls. Trim the ends with a knife and cut each one into 6 pieces. Divide into equal portions and serve with soya sauce for dipping, and with wasabi paste and Japanese horseradish, if you like.

Nutrition per serving: 350 calories • 12g protein • 4g carbs • 13g fat


On waking 1 glass iced water

Breakfast 1 x Weetabix with 70ml skimmed milk/nut milk, topped with 2tbsp fresh blackberries/raspberries

Morning snack Choose from list

Lunch Miso/vegetable soup (tomato and basil, spring vegetable) with 50g cubed tofu. Small side salad

Afternoon snack Choose from list

Dinner Chicken with puy lentils /(see recipe)/. Dessert: 2 squares dark chocolate

Chicken with Puy Lentils

Lentils are a great source of fibre. However, they’re 75 per cent carbs, so it pays to combine them with a lean protein like chicken to balance your hormones for quicker weight loss.

Serves 2 • Preparation 15 minutes • Cooking 25 minutes

• Coconut oil

• 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each about 120g

• 1 garlic cloves, chopped

• 375ml low-sodium chicken stock

• Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon

• 100g puy lentils

• 100g cherry vine tomatoes

• Small handful finely chopped parsley leaves, plus 1tsp to serve

• Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Lightly oil a nonstick frying pan and put on a medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 2–3 minutes on each side until browned. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4. Pour in 125ml of the stock and stir in the lemon zest and juice. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the meat is pierced with the tip of a sharp knife or skewer.

3. Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Leave to rest for at least 5 minutes, then slice. Reserve any remaining pan juices.

4. Meanwhile, pour the lentils and remaining stock into a saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes until the lentils are tender and cooked through.

5. Put the vine tomatoes on a baking tray, mist with cooking spray and season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

6. When the lentils are cooked, drain well and stir in the parsley. Divide into equal portions and top with the chicken slices. Spoon over any remaining pan juices, sprinkle with parsley and serve with the roasted vine tomatoes.

Nutrition per serving: 281 calories • 31g protein • 27g carbs • 14g fat


On waking 1 glass iced water

Breakfast 2 poached eggs on 1 slice wholemeal toast (no butter) with 1tbsp low sugar ketchup (optional); 1 cup green tea

Morning snack Choose from list

Lunch 50g feta cheese salad with lettuce, ½ segmented blood orange, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and 1tbsp oil and vinegar dressing

Afternoon snack Choose from list

Dinner Turkey and bean Bolognese. Make the sauce with 100g turkey mince, ½ can red kidney beans, chopped onion, ½ can chopped tomatoes, squeeze of tomato paste and pinch of cayenne. Use a peeler to make ribbons from a courgette, plunge into boiling water and drain. Top with the sauce. Dessert: 2 squares good quality dark chocolate


On waking 1 glass iced water

Breakfast Porridge made with 50g oats, 70ml skimmed/nut milk, sweetened with 2tsp stevia/agave nectar and 1 handful of berries; 1 cup green tea

Morning snack Choose from list

Lunch Persian baked eggs (see recipe) with mixed side salad.

Afternoon snack Choose from list

Dinner Chilli and lime prawns, made with 100g cooked prawns, stir-fried in a wok with broccoli, mange tout and carrot sticks, fresh chilli, soy, garlic and lime juice. Serve with 50g soba noodles. Dessert: 2 squares good quality dark chocolate.

Persian baked eggs

This dish takes time, so it works best at the weekend. The result delivers a big hit of protein with very few carbs.

Serves 2 • Preparation 15 minutes • Cooking 40 minutes

• Coconut oil

• ½ red pepper, deseeded and finely sliced

• ½ green pepper, deseeded and finely sliced

• 1 garlic clove, chopped

• ½ red chilli, deseeded and chopped

• 200g tinned chopped tomatoes

• ½tsp caraway seeds

• ½tsp harissa

• Small pinch of paprika

• Small pinch of ground cumin

• 2 eggs

• ½tbsp chopped chives

• 2 thin slices of rye bread, toasted, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4.

2. Lightly oil a nonstick frying pan. Cook the peppers over a medium heat for 10 minutes until softened. Stir in the garlic and chilli and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, caraway seeds, harissa and spices. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened.

3. Pour one half of the mixture into each of two 9x9cm square ramekins. With the back of a spoon, make a deep hole in the centre of each dish and crack an egg into each hole. Bake for 15 minutes until the egg whites are cooked through. Sprinkle with chives and serve each portion with one slice of rye toast.

Nutrition per serving: 184 calories • 7g protein • 9g carbs • 5.5g fat

Recipes from The S Factor Diet: The Happiest Way To Lose Weight(Amazon, £10.99).

PLAN AND DIET Not suitable for pregnant or nursing mothers or those thinking of becoming pregnant. Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise plan.

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