IF TOO MANY HOLIDAY SEASON INDULGENCES HAVE LEFT YOU FEELING SLUGGISH, TRY THESE LIGHT AND EASY MEAL IDEAS TO HELP PUT A SPRING BACK IN YOUR STEP.
The golden rules
» Practise portion control
Our 30-day plan gives exact portion sizes to remove any guesswork – and the temptation to go back for seconds. Portion sizes are crucial to boost energy levels – too big a meal and you’ll feel sleepy; too little and hunger will leave you weary.
» Vits are vital
You need plenty of energyboosting vitamins and minerals in your diet. Vitamin B12, essential for creating energy from the food you eat, is found in meat, dairy and fish, and fortified breakfast cereals. Magnesium is a mineral that’s key to energy production and blood sugar control, and you can find it in wholegrain bread. Iron is also essential for energy as it helps transport oxygen around the body.
» Eat regularly
In the plan we have selected recipes designed to leave you feeling fuller for longer, but eating at regular intervals is also essential for preventing fatigue and blood sugar crashes. There’s something for everyone in our breakfast list while our snacks, of which you’re allowed two a day, accommodate all tastes.
» Master your macros
We’ve devised all snacks and meals with carefully calculated ratios of your three macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) for optimising energy levels. Healthy fats are important, as studies show these not only improve mood and brain function, they’re also key to avoiding a midday slump. The carbs we’ve included are mainly high in fibre, which will help prevent blood sugar blues by keeping you fuller for longer. Protein, essential for not only helping the body build and repair tissue, but also for helping tide you over until your next meal, is included too.
» Ditch dehydration
Dehydration is one of the most common energy sapping culprits. You don’t need to head straight to the tap if you’re not a water fan – choose anything from our Rehydration Royalty list.
And as for the big A…
It would be mean to forbid alcohol for 30 days but you need to go easy if you want to reap the most benefits. Avoiding too many drinks in one go is key to staying on track here. Overdoing it will not only make you sleepy, it’ll also leave you feeling washed out the following day. A recent study from the journal Alcoholism revealed alcohol decreases the amount of time you’re likely to spend in both REM and deep sleep. Your allocation for this plan is six drinks a week, with no more than two drinks at a time.
Your six drinks may include:
½ pint of beer or cider; 125ml glass of wine, prosecco or champagne; one spirit (max 50ml) and mixer (200ml) – gin and tonic, vodka and lemonade, or Bacardi and Coke.
Not all liquids are created equal when it comes to rehydrating…
Milk: Canadian researchers found milk to be superior to sports drinks and water for post-exercise hydration due to its protein, carb, calcium and electrolyte content.
Coconut water: High in potassium, low in carbs and calories, coconut water is one splurge you should consider.
Tea and coffee: In recent years, caffeine’s diuretic properties have been played down, so tea, green tea and not-too- strong coffee are all acceptable methods of rehydrating.
Hydrating foods: Watermelon, cucumber, strawberries, celery and lettuce are all top rehydrating foods, containing more than 90 per cent water. And let’s hear it for H2O: Try adding lemon, lime, even a few raspberries and sprigs of mint to still or sparkling water.
KICKSTART KALE SMOOTHIE
Blend a handful of vitamin B-rich kale with a handful of blueberries, 2 handfuls of fresh or frozen pineapple, 150g protein-rich Greek yoghurt and 100ml water.
Blend 200g low-fat yoghurt with 15g shelled unsalted pistachios, 25g chopped dates, 1 tsp honey and a large pinch of cinnamon (cinnamon is a great metabolism booster and helps to regulate blood sugar – an energy win-win).
40G HIGH-FIBRE CEREAL
WITH 150ML SKIMMED MILK Sugary cereals are always best avoided, but good cereal choices includeWeet-Bix or porridge.
Make your own cereal bars in batches it’S cheaper and more nutritious. Mix and match your ingredients but make it high in fibre and low in added sugar. Blend oats, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, chopped dates and apricots, and add around 50g butter for every 500g of dry ingredients. Bake for 20-25 mins until golden, and cut into bars.
200G HOMEMADE FRUIT SALAD
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, apple with skin on, kiwifruit and melon are all good for maintaining even blood sugar levels. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp mixed seeds – sunflower or pumpkin.
Midweek energy plan 1
LUNCH: Wholegrain bagel with 2 slices smoked salmon and 30g cream cheese.
DINNER:Wrap salad: tear up a 35g wrap; mix with 40g cubed feta, 1 dsp chopped black olives, chopped tomatoes, 7cm chopped cucumber, 1 tsp diced red onion, oregano, 1 dsp olive oil, 1 tsp red wine vinegar.
LUNCH: Tuna, chickpea and coriander salad. The mix of light protein, fibre and essential fats makes this a low-cal, highenergy win. Combine 120g canned tuna, 100g drained chickpeas, 1 tsp chopped red onion, a handful chopped coriander and dress with 1 dsp olive oil and 1 dsp white wine vinegar. Serve with a sliced avocado.
DINNER: 150g seared steak with 150g sweet potato wedges brushed with oil, 2 large grilled mushrooms and 2 grilled tomatoes.
LUNCH: 30g sliced turkey, 30g Swiss cheese with lettuce and sliced tomato on 2 slices rye bread.
DINNER: Healthy spag bol: 75g pasta (weight before cooking), 300g tomato sauce with 1 dsp olive oil, as much veg as you like excluding potatoes and 125g lean mince.
LUNCH: Wholemeal pita with 150g chicken breast, salad, 1 dsp low-fat mayo.
DINNER: Tomato and feta omelette made with 2 eggs, 80g crumbled feta and 1 chopped tomato. Serve with 150g side salad dressed with 2 tsp vinaigrette.
LUNCH: 300g minestrone soup (bought or homemade), 3 rice cakes with 10g butter.
DINNER: Turkey salad: mix 2 handfuls chopped lettuce, 1 sliced tomato, sliced cucumber, ½ small avocado and dress with low-fat vinaigrette. Serve with 150g lean turkey breast.
Weekend plan 1
BREAKFAST: Avocado on toast: top 2 slices rye bread with a small crushed avocado and season with salt, pepper and 1 tsp lemon juice.
LUNCH: Smart Caesar salad: mix 100g skinless chicken breast with 15g croutons, 1 tsp grated parmesan, 1 tsp low-fat mayo, lettuce.
DINNER: 2 small grilled lamb chops with 400g roasted Mediterranean veg (red onion, capsicum, courgettes and eggplant, 1 tbsp olive oil).
BREAKFAST: High-energy breakfast muffin: toast 1 English muffin and serve with 1 poached egg and 1 tbsp Hollandaise sauce for a zesty, highprotein start to the day.
LUNCH: 150g roast chicken breast, 3 small roast potatoes (4-5cm), 150g steamed broccoli. Serve with 2 tbsp gravy – homemade or with granules.
DINNER: Small jacket potato with 2 slices ham, or small can tuna, 2 tbsp baked beans and some reduced-fat coleslaw.
Midweek energy plan 2
LUNCH: Mexican chicken wrap: fill a 35g wrap with 100g spicy sliced chicken breast, sliced tomatoes and lettuce with 1 tsp mayo.
DINNER: Pork stir-fry: marinate 200g pork fillet in chilli flakes, 1 dsp sesame oil, 1 dsp soy sauce and cook in a wok with 1 tsp chopped garlic, ½ sliced red capsicum and 2 chopped spring onions. Serve with 50g brown rice.
LUNCH: 300g high-fibre soup, such as lentil, with 4 rye crackers or rice cakes.
DINNER: Small can drained tuna, handful chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped onion, 150g jacket potato, 130g cottage cheese.
LUNCH: Avocado salad: 1 avocado, 30g sliced mozzarella, 6 walnut halves and plenty of leaves. Serve with 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp balsamic vinegar.
DINNER: Smoked salmon pasta: 1 tbsp smoked salmon ribbons, 2 handfuls broccoli florets, 40g wholemeal pasta, 1 tbsp crème fraîche.
LUNCH: Fill 35g wrap with 2 dsp hummus, 3 sliced radishes, 2 grated carrots and small sliced avocado. Season with lemon juice.
DINNER: 175g grilled salmon steak, with steamed broccoli, 150g jacket potato served with 1 tsp garlic butter. Friday
LUNCH: Spread 70g wholemeal roll with 10g butter, fill with sliced cucumber and 40g tuna blended with 1 tsp reduced-fat mayo.
DINNER: Healthy nachos: coat 60g tortilla chips with 150g salsa, thinly sliced red capsicum, courgette and onion. Sprinkle with 40g grated Cheddar and grill for 10 mins on a medium heat.
Weekend plan 2
BREAKFAST: Full-English: 2 rashers back bacon with 100g baked beans, 40g sautéed mushrooms, 2 medium grilled tomatoes, 2 slices wholegrain or rye bread.
LUNCH: Small amount of reduced-fat potato salad with 2 slices ham, lettuce, sliced tomato, 2 sliced radishes, 5 slices cucumber and 1 tsp reduced-fat mayo.
DINNER: Asparagus frittata: chop 5 cooked new potatoes then fry 1 small chopped onion and boil 5 asparagus spears for 2 mins. Blend and season 3 eggs, pour over the onion mixture, cook on low heat for 2 mins before adding potatoes, asparagus and 20g grated cheddar. Finish under the grill for 5 mins.
BREAKFAST: Eggs on toast: poach or scramble 2 eggs; place on 2 slices of toast (wholegrain). Top with thinly sliced tomato, a handful of grated mozzarella; grill.
LUNCH: Couscous: 60g cooked couscous, 5 chopped apricots, 2 chopped spring onions, 5 halved grapes, 40g chickpeas, 1 dsp flaked almonds. Season with 1 dsp olive oil, 1 tsp red wine vinegar and a pinch of cumin.
DINNER: Honey and mustard chicken: brush 150g chicken breast with 1 tsp honey, ½ tsp English mustard and 1 crushed garlic clove; bake. Serve with 40g cooked brown rice and 80g steamed broccoli.