NHS Trusted Diet Plan — Lose Weight the Healthy Way

Written by Tamara Willner
Medically reviewed by 

7 min read
Last updated June 2019

Have you tried every weight loss diet plan under the sun? Are you torn between swapping meals for diet shakes and following the Paleo diet?

Fad diets all claim to be the simple answer to losing weight. Unfortunately, science says that there is no such magic diet that results in healthy weight loss.

Conflicting advice makes it difficult to make a realistic, healthy eating plan that fits into your daily life.

Rather than calorie counting, the best way to lose weight is to change your lifestyle habits to enable you to plan meals, learn what healthy foods you like or dislike, and incorporate a variety of foods into your diet.

Low-fat diets often leave you feeling deprived and hungry, which is not sustainable in the long-term. We digest proteins and fats more slowly than carbs. This is why increasing intake of protein and healthy fats can result in feeling fuller for longer.

At the same time, swapping some carbs for non-starchy vegetables can leave you feeling satisfied while reducing our overall calorie intake. This is the basic rationale for a low-carb diet to lose weight.

Meal ideas

Devised by qualified dietitians and nutritionists, here are five different ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that could be included as part of a satisfying low-carb diet plan. The best plan is one that you can stick to, so remember you can substitute ingredients you don’t like for others and adjust meals to suit any dietary requirements.

Options suitable for vegetarians are highlighted with a (v). Full recipes and instruction videos of example meals can be accessed by clicking on the meal you want to make.

BREAKFAST IDEAS 200g plain, unsweetened Greek yoghurt with berries and sliced almonds (v)

Eggs your way + avocado (slice or mash ¼ of an avocado on 1 slice of wholegrain toast) (v)

Very berry smoothie (v)

2-3 egg mushroom omelette with 30g grated cheese and an optional slice of wholegrain bread (v)

Blueberry oat pancakes (v)

LUNCH IDEAS Courgette frittata slice + green salad (v)

Small jacket potato with a can of tuna + salad

Wholegrain wrap with roast beef/ chicken/ham, mustard and salad or Falafel, yoghurt and salad (v)

Leftovers from dinner

Peri Peri chicken and vegetables

DINNER IDEAS Goulash soup

Warm lamb, or falafel (v), salad

Coconut dahl (v)

Meatballs in chilli and tomato sauce + salad

Mediterranean quinoa with 2 tbsp plain, unsweetened Greek yoghurt (v)

Blueberry oatmeal pancakes with a spoonful of natural yoghurt on top.

 

Example 7-day meal plan

The following week plan is an example of how you could use the meal ideas above to structure your food and successfully begin your weight loss journey. Full recipes and instruction videos of example meals are available by clicking on the meal you want to make.

Not all meals in this example plan are suitable for vegetarians, but ingredient swaps or substitutes with meal ideas highlighted with a (v) from above can be made to cater to your requirements.

Throughout the week this diet plan includes some easy ‘quick prep’ sections, that shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. You can pre-prep the courgette frittata slices and lemon salad dressing (olive oil and lemon juice) to save time.

 

BREAKFAST LUNCH DINNER
MONDAY 200g plain, unsweetened Greek yoghurt

(Optional toppings: berries and sliced almonds)

Courgette Frittata slice +

Salad (2x handfuls of baby spinach, 1 tomato, ¼ cucumber, ½ chopped red pepper, pre-prepped lemon salad dressing)

Goulash soup

Quick prep: put one serving of leftover soup in the fridge for lunch tomorrow and the rest in the freezer.

TUESDAY Eggs your way +

Avocado (Slice or mash ¼ of an avocado on 1 slice of wholegrain toast)

Goulash soup (leftover) Mediterranean quinoa

(Optional topping: 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt)

Quick prep: put leftover servings into containers for lunch on Thursday.

WEDNESDAY Very berry smoothie

Quick prep: make a salad similar to Monday and put in a container with a serving of Frittata vegetable slice (leftover) for lunch.

Courgette frittata slice (leftover) + Salad Coconut Dahl

(Optional toppings: 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt and 2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley)

Quick prep: Put leftover dahl into a container in the fridge for dinner Friday.

THURSDAY Mushroom omelette (2-3 eggs) with 30g grated cheese

(Optional: serve with a slice of wholegrain bread)

Mediterranean quinoa (leftover)

(Optional topping: 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt)

Warm lamb salad

Quick prep: Put leftover lamb salad into containers for lunch and prep overnight oats (40g) for tomorrow breakfast.

FRIDAY Pre-prepped overnight oats

(Optional toppings: 200g Greek yoghurt, a handful of berries, or a handful of nuts)

Warm lamb salad (leftover) Coconut dahl (leftover)

(Optional toppings: 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt)

SATURDAY Blueberry oat pancakes

Quick prep: defrost a serving of goulash soup if you’re eating lunch at home today.

Eating out (opt for a meal with lots of non-starchy vegetables and a good source of protein)

OR

Goulash soup (leftover)

Meatballs in chilli tomato sauce +

Salad

Quick prep: store leftover meatballs in a container in the fridge.

SUNDAY Scrambled eggs (2-3 eggs)

(Optional: 1 grilled tomato, 1 handful baby spinach, 2 rashers of back bacon)

Peri Peri chicken + vegetables

Quick prep: put any leftovers into containers for quick and easy meals next week. For example, you could add leftover chicken to a salad, or use the leftover vegetables as a basis for another meal.

Meatballs in chilli tomato sauce (leftover)

(Optional: serve in a wholemeal wrap with baby spinach, red onion, and feta cheese)

OPTIONAL SNACKS

100g Greek yoghurt with a handful of berries (v)

½ – 1 blueberry oat pancake (v)

½ – 1 courgette frittata slice (v)

Veggie sticks with 60g hummus (v)

1-2 hard-boiled eggs (v)

1-2 meatballs in chilli tomato sauce

 

How to create your own diet plans

Before you attempt any meal planning, it’s important to have a basic understanding of food. This will help you put together balanced meals.

Nutrition basics

When we look at the nutritional requirements that our body needs to survive and function, we can broadly break these requirements into macronutrients and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). There are three kinds of macronutrients found in the foods we eat: protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

Most foods contain some of all three macronutrients; however, we usually categorise foods by whichever macronutrient they are mainly made up of.

PROTEIN FAT CARBOHYDRATES
Function Helps your body grow, maintain, and repair itself. Helps you to build muscle and stay strong.

Added benefit of helping you to feel full, as it takes longer to digest.

Critical for human survival. Used in your body for building the walls of your cells, allowing your brain and nervous system to function, and producing hormones.

Added benefit of helping you to feel full, as it takes longer to digest.

Source of energy for your body. Any extra energy that isn’t used straight away is stored and kept as a reserve. (For many of us living sedentary lifestyles, we do not need much reserve energy!)

Choose complex carbs, which are very high in fibre. Fibre helps food move through our digestive system and helps you to feel full.

Healthy Examples Chicken

Beef

Fish

Lentils

Eggs

Cheese

Tofu

Extra virgin olive oil

Nuts

Seeds

Salmon

Avocado

Olives

Quinoa

Sweet potato

Oats

Wholegrain bread

Wholewheat pasta

Buckwheat

Apples

NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES

These foods technically contain carbohydrates, but are very low in starch/sugar and mostly made up of fibre and water. They also provide vitamins and minerals:

  • Salad (pepper, cucumber, tomato, celery, lettuce, salad leaves, radish)
  • Root vegetables (beetroot, carrot, celeriac, daikon, parsnip, swede, turnip)
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cabbage, brussel sprout
  • Leafy greens (spinach, pak choi, swiss chard, kale)
  • Courgette, aubergine, marrow, pumpkin, squash, butternut squash
  • Corn, green/broad/ runner beans, peas, mangetout
  • Mushrooms
  • Onion, leek, garlic, fennel
  • Bamboo shoots and bean sprouts

Now that you have a basic understanding of the nutritional content of food, let’s put it all together! Aim to eat three balanced meals a day and space them evenly throughout your schedule.

Top 10 tips

Kicking pre-existing unhealthy eating habits can be hard. These 10 top tips can help you overcome unhealthy cravings, or dependence on ultra-processed foods, and effectively create your own healthy meal plans:

  1. Have at least 4 servings of non-starchy vegetables and 1 serving of healthy fats a day.
  2. Include 100-175g of a protein source at each meal – a serving that is at least ¼ of your plate (or the size of the palm of your hand).
  3. Limit grains and/ or starchy vegetables (complex carbs) to a maximum of 3 servings per day.
  4. Have one meal free from complex carbohydrates a day.
  5. Have up to 1 serving of fruit a day, whole (not juice), for example, one medium-sized piece of fruit or two small handfuls of berries.
  6. Cook all meals at home – plan and prep everything you eat, which might include bringing lunch into work.
  7. Avoid refined carbohydrates, ultra-processed foods, and items with added sugar – if you want something sweet, have 2 squares of high quality (75%+) dark chocolate and take the time to enjoy it.
  8. Drink at least 2 litres of fluids per day, including water, coffee/tea, or herbal teas.
  9. Avoid juices, fizzy drinks (regular and diet), and energy drinks.
  10. Take a break from drinking alcohol.

An example of a balanced plate for a carbohydrate-containing meal, including a chicken breast, ½ a baked sweet potato and 2 large handfuls of steamed non-starchy vegetables.

It is worth noting that these top tips provide general information and should not be used to substitute medical advice, especially if you suffer from a medical condition, in which case you should consult a medical professional before attempting a new diet plan.

 

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