The Lunch Box Diet by Simon Lovell (Harper Collins 12.99)
Written by a personal trainer, this diet book works on the theory that the only way to lose weight is to cut calories. Meanwhile, eating small amounts of food frequently throughout the day helps to burn fuel rather than storing it so that you keep your metabolism at an optimum level.
The diet combines these two ideas by restricting calories (although you don’t have to count them) and encouraging you to ‘graze’ or nibble every hour or so between breakfast and dinner.
You eat a normal breakfast and dinner and nibble on small amounts of food every few hours from a DIY lunchbox.
Quite simply, you find a lunchbox with a volume of 2-5 litres and then fill it with five portions of vegetables (which accounts for 45-60 percent of the total lunchbox size), one portion of lean protein such as lean beef, lamb, pork, chicken, fish, eggs, beans or nuts (accounting for 15 to 30 percent of the lunchbox) and a small amount of sauce such as cheese, chutney, fruit, guacamole, hummus or tomato sauce (accounting for 10 percent of the lunchbox).
If you’re very active you can add one portion of high-fibre carbs such as wholegrain bread, wholemeal pasta or brown rice to provide you with a little more energy.
How Much Weight will I Lose?
There’s no weight loss promise given, but the diet provides around 1,200 calories a day and so should easily enable most people to lose up to 2lb a week.
Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs with 1 slice wholewheat toast, fresh herbs and pepper.
Extended lunch: Sassy shrimp made from 1 cup of sweetcorn, 1 red pepper, 5 asparagus tips, 2 handfuls of baby spinach, 1 small handful of mustard greens, 6 King prawns and freshly squeezed orange juice or shop-bought pepper sauce with 1tsp flaxseed.
Dinner: Lean steak with sweet potato and green veg.
What Else Does the Book Include?
There’s plenty of information provided about each of the individual foods recommended for lunchboxes, including how to choose and prepare them, plus interesting health snippets.
Information about the vegetables you can use are divided into five coloured groups, encouraging you to choose different ones. There’s a useful chapter on what to drink and advice on the other benefits you can expect from following this plan, which include more energy, better-looking hair, skin and nails, a healthier heart and a lower risk of cancer.
Plus there’s advice on exercise, information on beating stress, 27 recipes for lunchboxes and some recipes for sauces and marinades.
The message finally seems to be getting across that the only true way to lose weight is to cut calories and it’s great to find yet another book that’s based on the this theory!
Nevertheless, it’s still a bit gimmicky and achieves its reduced-calorie intake by keeping carbs and dairy products to a minimum. Plus, by making a large, low-calorie salad every day, serving it in a lunchbox and then nibbling on small amounts every so often rather than devouring it in your lunch hour, you avoid mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacking – again helping to keep calories down. Having said that, the author provides good information on the difference between good, bad and ugly carbs – and does at least allow one portion at lunch if you are very active.
As the credit crunch continues to hit, it’s a good way to save pennies if you normally buy your lunch. The only real downside is that the diet is low in dairy products, which the author acknowledges, but explains away by saying that lots of other foods like green veg, pulses and salmon contain calcium.
However, the calcium from these foods tends to be less well absorbed than the calcium from dairy products. I’d be tempted to add in 300ml skimmed milk a day to make it more nutritionally balanced.
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