Gabriela Peacock is the top nutritionist who’s transformed the health and waistlines of our highest-profile celebrities (she helped Prince Harry get trim for his wedding). Now she’s sharing her expertise with an easy eating plan that everyone can follow – in just 14 days!
Want to slim down, have more energy and protect your long-term health in just two weeks? Of course you do, but I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t know where to start.
There is so much information on weight loss and nutrition now – and I should know. I spent 15 years working as a model before studying nutrition at the University of Westminster and, since 2012, have helped thousands of clients change their bodies – and their lives – for the better. And while there are tons of guides on how to manage weight and be healthy, very few have a realistic approach for people with real lives.
However, what I know through years of experience is that you don’t have to make huge changes to reach your goals. We need to find ways to feel fantastic that are simple and achievable, which is why my approach is all about making improvements without feeling overwhelmed. All roads lead to feeling better than ever before – and I believe you can achieve that in as little as two weeks.
It’s worth remembering that losing weight isn’t just about being able to get into your skinny jeans, it’s about safeguarding your health. The reality is that being overweight or obese has serious long-term implications. Extra weight triggers inflammation, which severely impacts immunity and how the body is able to deal with pathogens such as viruses. Ignored, it can also lead to the development of chronic conditions.
Then there’s visceral fat, which is the kind stored around the midriff. Too much visceral fat puts stress on the abdomen’s vital organs, with the potential to create more serious health conditions.
Why we gain weight
When glucose (sugar) enters the bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin, which carries it to the cells in our muscles and liver. Any glucose the body doesn’t need to use straight away will be turned into glycogen and put away for later in the liver and muscle cells. There is a limit to how much both can store, so excess will be transformed into triglycerides (a type of fat) then stored in adipose tissue, which has no limit. And so there it sits.
Simple carbohydrates or foods that are high in sugar can eventually tire out the pancreas, as it keeps having to produce insulin, which gives the body the false impression that it has plenty of energy and does not need to burn anything reserved in its fat cells – in fact, it can go ahead and store more. This adds further to weight gain.
So what’s the solution? A plan that is inflexible is only going to drive people mad and put them off. For me it’s all about balance and simplicity.
ON FASTING DAYS stick to around 500 calories for women and 600 for men on three non-consecutive days over the course of a week.
ON MINDFUL DAYS follow my key principles (right) for healthy eating, trying to reduce the amount you might normally eat by about 20 per cent.
ON THE MAGIC DAY there are no restrictions – you can eat what you like.
The plan combines my key principles with intermittent fasting (IF), which has decades of scientific research behind it, and I have seen first-hand the profound changes it makes. This method is easy, sustainable and realistic. Aside from being effective for weight loss, it has numerous other health benefits – for example, better blood sugar control, greater energy levels, improved sleep, a reduction in the risk of chronic and age-related diseases and an increase in lifespan.
In all the years I have been putting clients on this plan, it has worked without exception. Every one of them feels ten times better having followed the plan. I know you will too.
My five key principles
- Eat protein with every meal This helps the body to make new cells, repair damaged ones, oversee the production of hormones and neurotransmitters, supports muscle growth and lean muscle mass and ensures blood sugar and insulin levels are balanced. Animal protein portions – lean meat, poultry (turkey, chicken), fish (salmon, mackerel, white fish, tuna, sardines), shellfish (prawns, mussels, clams, oysters, crayfish, lobster), eggs and dairy products (milk, butter, cheese, yogurt) – should be about the same size as the palm of your hand. Plant protein portions – quinoa, buckwheat, hemp and chia seeds, blue-green algae (spirulina, chlorella and kelp), soy (edamame, tofu, tempeh, miso soup) – should be the same size as your fist. For snacks, use a child’s palm or fist as a guide.
- Choose high-fibre, low-GI carbohydrates The glycaemic index (GI) helps to determine the sugar and fibre content of carbohydrates, rating them from 0 to 100 according to how much they can elevate the blood sugar. The higher the number, the more quickly the carbohydrate is digested and absorbed, with the potential to spike blood sugar levels. For example, white pasta is high GI, while whole-grain pasta is lower GI. Fibre found in fruit and vegetables is essential for digestion, as it helps to rid the body of toxins and anything that is redundant through excretion.
- Include healthy fats Fats are an essential part of a healthy diet, needed for the growth of all the body’s cells, forming a large percentage of cell membranes, providing energy, protecting the organs and keeping the body warm. Without it, the body cannot absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D and E. Diets that are low in fat do not fill up the body. This can lead to cravings and overeating, as the body never feels satisfied.Essential fatty acids are fats the body is unable to produce itself, so it’s critical to include plenty in the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids, which contain highly effective anti-inflammatory properties, are particularly important. You find them in fish (mackerel, herring, salmon, trout, sardines, tuna), shellfish (prawns, mussels, clams, crayfish, oysters), nuts (walnuts, almonds, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans) and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, chia, flax).
- Try a rainbow diet Eating lots of different-coloured plants is the best way to get the full range of their benefits. Phytonutrients give plants their smell, colour and taste – such as rocket its bitterness, beetroot its redness, chillies their heat. Research continues to reveal just how beneficial phytochemicals are. For example, flavonoids in lemons and pears may have anti-inflammatory properties, anthocyanins in berries and red wine are believed to lower blood pressure, catechins in green tea can reduce the risk of cancer, and sulphides in onions, shallots, garlic and leeks contain antibacterial and antifungal properties that may help boost immunity.
- Drink plenty of water Dehydration can feel like hunger, so make sure you drink plenty of water. The amount will depend on levels of physical activity and the weather, but it’s important not to ignore feelings of thirst.
Stay healthy for life
So what do you do when the two weeks are up? The beauty of this plan is that it’s healthy and safe to keep repeating it until you reach your target weight. Then I recommend swapping one of your fasting days for a mindful day so you only have two fasting days a week: you’ll get all the benefits that come with fasting, but shouldn’t continue to lose weight. If your weight creeps up again, you can always add back another fasting day.
Fasting day tips
Plan your meals Divide your calorie allowance to suit your preferences. Try to space them out between two or three small meals or one meal and a couple of snacks. Alternatively, some people prefer to save all their calories for one larger evening meal.
Stay hydrated This is very important. So drink plenty of water or non-caffeinated liquids throughout the day.
Meal composition Follow my key principles and stay within the calorie limit:
- Include a portion of protein in every meal.
- Avoid simple carbohydrates. Choose high-fibre carbohydrates, especially non-starchy vegetables, as they’re low in calories and will keep you fuller for longer.
- Avoid high-fat foods such as oil, butter, cheese and avocado, as they will bring you up to your calorie allowance without making you feel full.
- Avoid alcohol, as it will impact your restricted-calorie intake.
Mindful day tips
Follow my key principles for each meal, making portions around 20 per cent smaller than normal. Alternatively, reduce your overall calorie intake by 20 per cent for the day, eg, a normal-size breakfast and lunch, a snack, finishing with a light dinner. The decision of whether to drink alcohol is ultimately personal – although the calories remain high. An example of a nicely balanced meal is:
- 1⁄2 non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach).
- 1⁄4 whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, rye) or starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, peas).
- 1⁄4 protein (fish, poultry, tofu).
For more information, visit Gabriela’s website gpnutrition.com.
We strongly advise consulting your doctor before embarking on any diet plan. You should also discuss your medication if necessary. The eating plan is not suitable if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or underweight.
And now for the recipes…
Fasting day: Anytime baked eggs
It is joyful how quick and simple this recipe is. Not only does it work brilliantly as a shared brunch, it is good for any lurking hangovers as smoked salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 and will help the liver to cleanse the body of the remnants of last night’s revelry.
Fasting day: Rhubarb & red berry pots
Rhubarb is packed with soluble fibre, vitamin K and calcium. This recipe has been designed to be on the tart side, so add a little more agave if you prefer. It makes a great breakfast and works as a healthy pudding on mindful days. They keep in the refrigerator for four days; the toasted nuts will last in an airtight container for a week.
Fasting day: Thai-spiced vegetable & coconut curry
This is a light, fresh alternative to a traditional curry. It is quick to rustle up and makes a deliciously zingy, fragrant lunch or supper for a fasting day. A note about coconut milk: the canned variety is significantly higher in calories, so try to find the kind that is sold in a carton, which is lighter.
Fasting day: Seared sesame tuna with green beans & carrots
Tuna is quite a meaty fish, so it can be a good replacement for red meat, which should be eaten sparingly. It is also very high in selenium, a natural antioxidant, and along with the crunchy sesame seeds is an excellent source of essential fatty acids.
Fasting day: Bread-free burger with sauerkraut
With a few tweaks, it is possible to have something similar to a regular burger – that isn’t drenched in fat and squashed between a carb-tastic bun. Any lean minced meat works and adding a spoonful of sauerkraut is a great alternative for gherkin lovers, particularly as it helps maintain a healthy microbiome. Tomato purée is high in lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant that supports healthy lungs, and is MUCH better for you than ketchup. Use liberally.
Mindful day: Roasted beetroot & spinach curry
Beetroot is overflowing with nutrients, such as folate and vitamin C, and is a great source of fibre. Combined with iron-rich spinach, this vivid red, rustic dish is just the ticket. Serve with brown rice, quinoa or rye bread.
Mindful day: Salmon & kale salad with chickpea croutons
Packed with omega-3, protein, B vitamins and selenium, salmon is a wonder fish. Chickpeas are a great source of fibre and make a delicious snack when roasted; I like finishing them with a little salt and some apple cider vinegar.
Mindful day: Golden chicken salad with sesame & ginger
This Asian-inspired salad has plenty of nutrient-rich vegetables and protein-packed chicken, which works like a dream with the ginger and sesame. You can make double the amount and keep half in the fridge, as it’s delicious cold the next day.
Mindful day: Broad beans, feta & chilli on toast
If toast for breakfast is a particular favourite, this will appeal. Broad beans are a very rich source of fibre and B vitamins, so will energise you for the day. Salty feta is not only low in calories and fat, it contains beneficial bacteria and calcium. There’s a lot to play with in this recipe – use edamame instead of broad beans if you prefer, or add an egg for a slightly more filling option.
Mindful day: Flourless chocolate chip cookies
Sticky and delicious, these cookies are a healthier alternative to shop-bought ones. Refined sugars have no nutritional value, while natural sugars, such as the coconut variety here, contain a fibre called inulin. It’s not completely saintly but it has a lower glycaemic index, which makes it a little gentler on blood sugar levels. In combination with the oats, which are high in fibre, these cookies won’t cause a wild blood sugar spike.
Now buy the book
Our recipes are from 2 Weeks to Feeling Great by Gabriela Peacock, published by Kyle Books, price £20. To order a copy for £17.80 go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Offer valid until 30 May. Free p&p on orders over £20.
Extracted by Claire Coleman