A new report says that eating fat can make you slim. Celebrity trainer James Duigan explains how to lose inches in a fortnight
Butter, cream and cheese were once considered to be the enemy of dieters, and those who consumed them were thought to be eating their way to ill health. However, a new report by the National Obesity Forum and Public Health Collaboration, published this week, suggests that such advice is fuelling the obesity epidemic and argues that, far from piling on the pounds, eating fat can make you slim.
According to the report, high-fat foods, including avocados, full-fat milk and eggs, are not the dietary enemies we have been led to believe. The report recommends that “guidelines for weight loss for the UK should include an ad libitum [unrestricted] low refined carbohydrate and a healthy high-fat diet as an acceptable, effective and safe approach for preventing weight gain and aiding weight loss”.
It’s a message that the celebrity trainer James Duigan, founder of Bodyism gym in Notting Hill, west London, has been feeding his glamorous clients for years. “Fat doesn’t make you fat,” Duigan says. “There are countless studies showing people who eat fat-rich diets are slimmer than those who try to stick to the low-fat approach. I have never advocated cutting out entire food groups.” Foods such as eggs, oily fish and cheese, nuts and full-fat milk, for so long demonised by the diet industry, feature strongly on the leanness plans he draws up for clients, including Lara Stone and David Gandy. Not only can fat keep you slim, he argues, but it can also help you to lose weight. “Fatty acids help to burn fat around the mid-section, resulting in a flatter stomach,” Duigan says. “It’s easy to spot people who stick to low-fat diets because they often have a thick middle, no matter how much or little they weigh.”
Duigan adds, “healthy fats are nourishing and fulfilling, and they trigger important enzymatic reactions that boost our metabolism to ensure we stay lean,” he explains. Fats can reduce cravings for snacks by slowing down the rate at which sugar hits the bloodstream. “Eating healthy fats encourages your body to burn fat around the middle and helps you to absorb the vitamins and minerals from your food more efficiently,” he says. “They also switch on your brain’s satiety signals so that you feel full much more quickly when you consume even a little fat.” Duigan says that by following the rules and menus on this page, you can lose up to two inches from your middle within two weeks. “You will look very different,” he says. “It’s incredible how quickly the weight will drop off.
Change your body in 14 days: the food rules
by James Duigan
Eat a little fat with every meal
Having a little fat with every meal does wonders for your energy levels and appetite. Fat has a proven satiating effect and you don’t need mountains of it to feel the effects. Add some ood fat to a salad by drizzling on olive oil or sprinkling over some chopped nuts or seeds.
Always eat breakfast
Avoid bread and cereal, which are sugary and high in refined carbohydrates; instead opt for a high-protein meal with some fat. Base breakfast around two eggs (they will keep you full for longer). They can be scrambled or baked, using coconut oil for cooking if necessary — or half an avocado and one egg with some spinach, or one egg with some meat such as a turkey breast and some spinach. You can have bacon but no more than once a week. Alternatively, make porridge with chia seeds and coconut milk with a dollop of coconut yoghurt and some fresh berries. Replace yoghurt with coconut yoghurt (it is very high in fat, so don’t have more than a dollop) which tends to be less highly processed and contain less sugar and additives than other yoghurts; and replace cream with coconut, rice or almond milk — which are easier on the digestive system than dairy. Eating fruit is fine but stay away from very sweet fruit such as mango and opt instead for low-sugar berries or grapefruit.
Try high-fat fish for lunch
A perfect lunch would be a 250g piece of oily fish (salmon, trout, tuna) or other fish (haddock). Oily fish that is high in fat, such as salmon, trout and mackerel, contain essential fatty acids which help to break down fat cells into the bloodstream, from where they can be burned off as energy. You could also try other proteins such as a single turkey breast drizzled with healthy fats like coconut, olive and walnut oil. You can add a green salad and as many green vegetables as you like. Avoid potatoes, pasta, rice and grains because they trigger a sharp rise in blood sugar, leading to faster fat storage.
Lamb, steak or cheese for dinner
Choose a source of protein (ideally different to the one you had for lunch) and add some fat, such as some grated parmesan, pine nuts or other nuts, with a large portion of green vegetables and a drizzle of a healthy oil such as walnut, coconut or olive oil.
There is no need to avoid meat. I particularly recommend lamb, which is full of healthy fats. About a third of the saturated fats in lamb are the healthy stearic acid, which has been shown in studies to improve cholesterol levels. Any lamb cut will do — I favour cutlets as they are quite small, so you can have two.
Other options could include sirloin steak or salmon steak. Ricotta and feta-based dishes are another possibility because they tend to be less highly processed than other cheeses and add flavour. You can have butternut squash or sweet potato mash as a side dish, rather than potatoes or grains. You can even make shepherd’s pie replacing potatoes with mashed sweet potato.
Have three meals a day
Mealtimes are flexible but try not to eat too late in the evening. Avoid snacking. If you do find that you are hungry between meals, increase the amount of green vegetables you have with your meal
Cook with coconut oil
Coconut oil has soared in popularity in the past few years. It is made up of mostly of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which produce a host of health benefits. I recommend having up to four teaspoons of coconut oil every day, adding it to smoothies, tea or coffee. Stirring it into your black coffee is a fantastic alternative to a milk latte or sugary drink. I drink one of these most days. It’s also great for frying with. Use it to replace olive oil.
Eat eggs every day
Eggs are wrongly demonised for their fat and cholesterol content. However, a study by Finnish researchers earlier this year was the latest to confirm that eating eggs every day doesn’t raise the risk of heart disease. Indeed, even people with a genetic sensitivity to cholesterol were able to tolerate an egg a day in their diet.
Never eat sugar
When you eat sugar it causes a spike in your insulin levels. In a healthy, slim person, 40 per cent of the sugar they eat is converted to fat; in an overweight person up to 60 per cent of the sugar they eat is converted straight to fat and stored around the hips, stomach and thighs. Eating sugary foods alongside your healthy fats will simply exacerbate this process. The benefits from cutting out sugar are immense and immediate. You will feel less bloated, your energy levels will improve, and you will shed fat. The easiest way to start reducing it is to avoid all processed, packaged and refined foods.
Avoid trans fats
Not all fats are good and trans fats definitely need to be avoided. Food manufacturers often disguise trans fats as hydrogenated oil, hydrogenated vegetable fat and partially hydrogenated vegetable fat, so look out for them on food labels. Too many trans fats in the diet have been linked to higher blood levels of interleukin-6, which, studies suggest, increases your risk of heart disease. Trans fats can also reduce muscle tone and slow metabolism.
Always choose butter instead of margarine
Any other spreadable fat should be avoided at all costs. Margarine is often highly synthetic, made with cheap, low-grade oils and full of additives and colouring. This doesn’t mean that you can eat butter every day. I advise having one to two days off butter a week.
Yes, you should eat avocados every day (but only half)
I’m a big fan of avocados because they contain good fat and potassium, which can lower your blood pressure. Because they’re creamy and filling, they put a swift end to mid-afternoon hunger pangs. However, that doesn’t mean you should overdo it. Have half an avocado on its own as a snack or as part of a meal.
What to drink
Don’t drink fruit juices as these contain so much sugar, or have milk in your coffee or tea (caffeine is fine on this diet). Try to avoid alcohol, although one drink a day is allowed. Most importantly, to keep hydrated, make sure that you are drinking 2-3 litres of water a day.
As told to Peta Bee
Steak, cheese, eggs: what to eat each day
When you’re following this plan, remember to eat fat with every meal, increase the amount of vegetables you are eating if you feel hungry — and don’t skip breakfast. Lunch and dinner meal plans are interchangeable. Repeat the seven days when you have finished. At the end of a fortnight you will have lost up to two inches from your waistline.
Breakfast: Cheesy baked eggs
Put wilted spinach in a ramekin, crack in an egg, sprinkle parmesan on top and cook under the grill for 5 min.
Lunch: Prawns with avocado salsa
Marinate prawns with chilli powder, cumin, coriander, tamari (like soy sauce but gluten-free) and lemon juice. Griddle, stir in a dollop of coconut yoghurt and serve with a salsa of avocado, mango, tomato, cannellini beans, red onion, paprika, lemon and coriander.
Dinner: Lamb with green vegetables
1 grilled lamb steak (or 2 grilled lamb cutlets), served with broccoli and spinach.
Breakfast: Coconut milk and chia porridge
On Monday night, mix 250ml coconut milk, 2 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp dessicated coconut, 1 tbsp stevia/xylitol, 1 tbsp coconut yoghurt, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract and the zest of 1 lemon. Add toasted coconut chips and fresh berries.
Lunch: Stuffed trout in olive oil
Stuff a trout with kale, parsley, garlic, chilli and lemon zest and juice. Drizzle with oil, wrap in foil (not tightly) and bake at 180C/gas 4 for 30 min.
Dinner: Lamb with green vegetables
1 grilled lamb steak (or 2 grilled lamb cutlets), served with broccoli and spinach.
Breakfast: Egg and cheese muffins
Fry ¼ onion in coconut oil, add spinach and wilt. Add it to a beaten egg with grated hard cheese, chia seeds and lemon zest. Cook in a muffin pan greased with butter; bake for 15 min at 180C/gas 4.
Lunch: Haddock with walnut oil
1 grilled or baked haddock fillet with a mixed green salad, drizzled with ½ tbsp walnut oil.
Dinner: Creamy fish pie
Put raw haddock chunks, salmon chunks and prawns in a baking dish with frozen peas, onion, chilli, carrot, celery, lemon juice and some double cream. Top with sweet potato mash, sprinkle cheddar on top and bake at 200C/gas 6 for 40 min.
Breakfast: Egg and avocado pancake
Mix together an egg with garlic, coriander and spinach leaves. Melt coconut oil in a frying pan and pour a ladleful of the egg mixture into a pan, cooking it like a pancake. Fill with smashed avocado, lemon juice, paprika and crushed garlic.
Lunch: Fried mackerel with cannellini bean salad
Fry mackerel fillets in coconut oil. Serve with cannellini beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion, basil, red wine vinegar and lemon juice.
Dinner: Ricotta pies
Mix 150g ricotta with 1 tbsp grated parmesan, basil leaves and ¼ tbsp peppercorns. Bake in a ramekin at 160C/gas 3 for 20 min. Serve with courgette ribbons dressed in chilli, oregano, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs
Melt butter, wilt spinach then add eggs and turmeric, and scramble.
Lunch: Baked cod with spinach and tomato
Drizzle coconut oil over a cod fillet, bake at 180C/gas 4 for 15 min and serve with tomato and spinach salad dressed in flaxseed oil.
Dinner: Coconut curry
Simmer butternut squash, carrot, ginger, onion and stock with ¼ tin coconut cream for 15 min. Add puy lentils and boiling water with chilli and turmeric, simmer for 20 min. Serve with coriander and lemon juice.
Breakfast: Baked avocado and egg
Crack an egg into an avocado hole. Sprinkle with garlic and chilli then bake until the egg is cooked. Sprinkle with parmesan.
Lunch: Roast turkey with green vegetables
Drizzle coconut oil on a turkey breast and roast it at 200C/gas 6 for 25 min. Serve with green salad and mangetout drizzled with olive oil.
Dinner: Grilled duck with oriental greens
Grill a skinless duck breast for 10 min on one side, then 5-10 min on the other side. Serve with oriental greens such as pak choi or broccoli.