How to lose weight in 28 days
I have seen lot of jumpstart meal plan websites and apps recently. These types of diets often involve a combination of dietary changes, exercise routines, and sometimes additional lifestyle modifications. They may claim to provide rapid results within a relatively short timeframe, like 28 days. However, it’s important to approach such programs with caution and consider the following:
- Nutritional Balance: Ensure that any diet plan provides a balanced mix of essential nutrients. Extreme or restrictive diets may not be sustainable in the long term and can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Both portion control and leading a healthy lifestyle are important and you can find information about healthy eating for free with simple recipes available online.
- Long-Term Sustainability: Rapid weight loss programs may not promote long-term sustainable habits. It’s crucial to adopt lifestyle changes that can be maintained over the long haul. Sustainable changes such as incorporating whole foods and lean protein in to your meal prep are healthy habits which you can maintain for a long time.
- Health and Safety: Before starting any new diet or exercise program, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions. Shifting a few extra pounds at the expense of your health is not a good idea. Stick to the recommended amounts and always follow professional medical advice.
- Individual Variation: What works for one person may not work for another. Individual responses to diets can vary, and it’s essential to find an approach that fits your specific needs, preferences, and health status. There are thousands of social media posts of results with some extravagant first week weight loss claims but the key is to think about your overall health long term.
What is the Eatwell guide?
The Eatwell Guide is a public health nutrition guide in the United Kingdom. It is issued by Public Health England and is designed to help people make healthier food choices and achieve a balanced and varied diet. The guide is based on the principles of a well-balanced diet and provides recommendations on the types and proportions of different food groups that should be consumed for optimal health. This advice is free and is something which I as a food teacher deliver in schools to children.
Key features of the Eatwell Guide typically include:
1. Fruits and Vegetables:
Emphasis on consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
It is true – The “5-a-day” guideline serves as a simple and memorable public health message to encourage people to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet. It’s important to note that a portion size can vary depending on the type of fruit or vegetable, but as a general guide, a portion is often considered to be around 80 grams.
My first piece of advice would be to add more fruit and veg to your shopping list. It sounds like common sense but it will make a huge difference. If you’re a fan of quick easy meals then pick up some frozen bags of vegetables. I add a portion of sweetcorn to a chilli con carne or peas to a shepherds pie without even thinking about it. Adding fruits such as raspberries or blueberries to toast or yoghurt for a quick breakfast or mid morning snack feels like more of a treat than a diet.
- Nutrient-Rich: Fruits and vegetables are rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants – the general rule is to try and eat the rainbow – go for a variety of different colours in your diet to get as many nutrients as possible. Different fruits and vegetables offer a diverse range of nutrients, ensuring a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals is essential.
- Fibre Content: Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of dietary fibre, promoting digestive health and assisting in weight management.- keep the skin on if you can and do not worry about blending them up. Eating fruits and vegetables with the skin on will help you feel fuller for longer too. I never peel carrots – just wash them and roast (or air fry) them as they come. The fibre in fruits and vegetables also promotes regular bowel movements and prevents constipation.
- Disease Prevention: Regular consumption of fruits and veg is associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and age-related eye conditions.
- Weight Management: Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in water content, supporting weight management through nutrient-dense options.
2. Starchy Carbohydrates:
Starchy carbohydrates (complex carbs) are an essential component of a balanced diet and provide a significant source of energy for the body. These carbohydrates are composed of long chains of glucose molecules, which are broken down during digestion to release energy. Starchy carbohydrates come from various plant-based foods and are often a key part of a healthy diet.
The first instinct when trying to lose weight rapidly is to cut out as many carbs as possible. Whilst excess carbohydrate consumption can lead to bloating and weight gain, it is important to find a balance. One of my top tips for a jumpstart diet would be to add whole grains and high-fiber carbohydrates, such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole grain bread to your shopping list. Eating the right things in this category of foods is one of the most important things you can do as it accounts for about half of the food you should eat across a week.
Portion sizes here are vital. I spent a whole week carefully weighing out dry pasta as I cooked it just to see how much a portion size should be. It is important to remember that pasta absorbs water as it cooks so swells to almost double its size. At first when I tried this I thought I wasn’t cooking anywhere near enough for a meal, but actually I was just being greedy – I had been filling a large bowl with almost three times the recommended portion and then having extra left for lunches or second helpings. If you haven’t got a kitchen set of scales then it’s worth investing in them just to start learning about what a portion looks like.
3. Protein Sources:
The recommended portion size for protein can vary based on factors such as age, gender, activity level, and overall health. In general, a common guideline is to aim for a protein intake of about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, this is a general recommendation and individual protein needs can vary. Increasing your calorific protein intake and reducing your carbohydrate calorific intake is often the biggest change suggested when it comes to jump start diets.
This however is something which can be difficult to maintain. Carbohydrates act as your primary source of energy. Protein is primarily used for muscle growth and tissue repair in the body so if you do not get the balance here right then it can lead to feelings of exhaustion and also can be linked to an overall reduction in a feeling of well-being which means this kind of extreme clean eating meal plan is difficult to maintain longer term.
A healthy diet should include protein-rich foods such as lean meat, fish, eggs, beans, and pulses. This food group is ideal for quick lunch options such as salads – I will often include leftover chicken with a salad for a simple lunch at work. I also add pulses to the right foods to bulk out the protein – any home made soups or stews are ideal for this. To put it in to perspective 1 egg contains about 6-7g of protein whereas a glass of milk or a yoghurt contains about 8-12g and a cup of lentils or beans can be 15g of protein. A breakfast with beans on wholemeal toast with a poached egg would be a good protein rich start to the day.
4. Dairy or Dairy Alternatives:
Dairy products are a good source of protein, as well as other essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. The recommended portion size for dairy can depend on the specific type of dairy product. Here are approximate portion sizes for some common dairy items:
- One serving of milk is typically considered to be one cup (8 ounces / 200ml ), which provides around 8 grams of protein. This can vary slightly based on the type of milk (whole, skim, 2%, etc.).
- One serving of yogurt is usually considered to be one cup, providing approximately 8 to 15 grams of protein, depending on the type and brand of yogurt. Greek yogurt tends to have a higher protein content compared to regular yogurt. I use greek yoghurt for marinades, dips and to add to any recipes which usually require double cream.
- The protein content in cheese varies based on the type of cheese. On average, one ounce of cheese provides about 7 grams of protein. However, this can range from 4 to 10 grams or more depending on the type of cheese.
It’s important to note that while dairy products can be a good source of protein, they also contain saturated fats. Choosing low-fat or fat-free options can be beneficial for those looking to manage their saturated fat intake. This is another really easy adjustment to the shopping list and a great way to make a fresh start. Additionally, for individuals who are lactose intolerant or have a dairy allergy, there are various non-dairy alternatives available, such as almond milk, soy milk, and lactose-free dairy products.
5. Oils and Fats:
Oils and fats are an essential part of a balanced diet, providing energy and serving as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins. However, it’s crucial to choose the right types and consume them in moderation. Here are some common sources of oils and fats, along with general guidelines on portion sizes:
- Olive Oil:
- Olive oil is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. One tablespoon of olive oil is a common serving size, providing about 120 calories and 14 grams of fat. I choose to cook with olive oil most of the time.
- These are often considered a diet food but be mindful that half of an avocado is a typical serving, offering around 120 calories and 10 grams of healthy monounsaturated fats. If you are planning a calorie controlled approach then looking at your daily totals with avocado can be interesting. If you are trying to eliminate added fat entirely then these are a good source.
- Nuts and Seeds:
- A small handful of nuts (about 1 ounce / 25 g) is a standard serving. This typically provides around 160-200 calories and 14-18 grams of fat, including healthy unsaturated fats. Next time you get a bag of nuts check the portion size on the packet. It is a lot less than you think. Even though these are considered healthy, if you over do it with the snacks then you’ll be consuming an excess of calories which will not help fat loss.
- A standard serving of butter is often considered to be 1 tablespoon, providing around 100 calories and 11 grams of fat, mostly saturated fat. It’s recommended to use butter in moderation due to its saturated fat content. I prefer to use avocado instead of butter on toast in the mornings. One of my favorite brunch snacks is tomatoes with toast and an olive oil dip – bruschetta style with some fresh basil. No butter in sight.
- Fatty Fish:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. A standard serving of cooked fish is typically around 3 to 4 ounces. You should be aiming to include two fish meals a week with one portion being oily. A salmon based evening meal is a great idea and I also love fishcakes at the moment.
- Coconut Oil:
- One tablespoon of coconut oil provides about 120 calories and 14 grams of saturated fat. While it’s high in saturated fat, some research suggests that the type of saturated fat in coconut oil may have different effects on cholesterol levels compared to other saturated fats. I did go through a phase of adding it to everything because I thought it was healthier but now I use with caution.
- Nut Butters:
- Two tablespoons of peanut butter or almond butter is a common serving size, providing around 180-200 calories and 16-18 grams of fat.
It’s important to focus on the quality of fats in your diet. Aim for sources of unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) while limiting saturated and trans fats. Most of the fats you eat should be unsaturated fats, and the intake of saturated fats should be limited to less than 10% of your total daily calories. Remember that dietary fat is calorie-dense, so portion control is essential. Including a variety of sources of healthy fats in your diet can contribute to overall health and well-being.
6. Sugars and salts:
It almost goes without saying: Advice on limiting the intake of free sugars, found in sugary drinks, sweets, and added sugars in processed foods is available in plenty of online diet plans. I say everything in moderation. Cutting out your favourite snacks can lead to food cravings and potential bingeing. The good news is that limiting does not mean cutting out entirely. Just consider all of the effort you are putting in with the other changes and then reduce the snacks.
I personally choose to avoid adding multipacks or family sized packs of anything to my trolley. It works out as a little more expensive to buy the occasional treat – however it can be far too tempting to open a large bar of chocolate and only take 4-5 squares. Junk food is one thing you have to manage yourself and be honest about. A little bit of anything will never do you any harm, but checking food labels and counting calories can be very interesting. Can you make any switches or substitutions for your favourite snacks?
I have found that high protein chocolate flavoured mousse or yoghurts satisfy my sweet treat cravings, and I have eliminated full fat sugary soft drinks almost entirely. I do like to cook my own food from scratch and add salt for flavour but I have not been bringing the salt cellar to the table to avoid adding any extra. If you buy any ready meals then this is where to check the salt content and be cautious / especially in those specifically marketed for weight loss.
In the United Kingdom, the general advice for hydration emphasises water as the primary beverage, aiming for about 6 to 8 glasses (1.2 to 1.9 litres) of fluid per day for most adults, including water, lower-fat milk, and sugar-free drinks. It’s recommended to limit sugary drinks. One fruit juice or smoothie portion is recommended per day and it should be about 150ml (they usually contain high levels of sugar). Also be mindful of alcohol’s dehydrating effects, and adjust fluid intake based on factors like physical activity and climate. Thirst is a natural indicator, so listen to your body.
The NHS guidance recommends adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, coupled with muscle-strengthening exercises on two or more days. Additionally, flexibility and balance activities, especially for older adults, are encouraged. Sedentary behavior should be minimised, and children and young people are advised to have at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Incorporating movement into daily life, whether through walking, cycling, or recreational activities, is emphasized. Individuals should choose activities they enjoy and consult healthcare professionals, especially if they have health conditions. These guidelines aim to enhance overall well-being, cardiovascular health, and mental health while accommodating various age groups and abilities.
There is absolutely no point in starting a 28 day jumpstart plan with a gym membership unless you have the intention of being able to incorporate changes in to your routine long term. If you hate going to the gym then find an exercise activity which you enjoy. I personally find group exercise classes more engaging and I look forward to these classes as more of a social event. I can commit to one hour a week but always try to squeeze in a second. I don’t feel guilty if I am unable to when my workload is higher.
I also wear a watch which tracks my steps and physical activity so I can count my steps and monitor my heart rate. I have managed to burn more calories in the park with Arlo than I ever have in the gym – usually because I chase after him on his scooter. You can set your own goals and targets which are realistic and find fitness tips, exercise challenges and all sorts of advice online for free without paying to have someone tell you to do a hundred press ups every day in your living room, or worry about visiting a gym if you feel uncomfortable in that space.
This might not be the 28 day jump start plan you intended upon finding but it’s sound advice based on current guidelines.
Do not try to change everything all at once. If you’re looking to embark upon a healthy eating plan then start making some sustainable changes, one little bit at a time.
Last Updated on 1 month by Lavania Oluban