For the next six weeks, you can create any meals you like as long as you follow these six simple guidelines. Thats alltheres no need to count calories or fat grams.
1. Eat protein and fruit and/or vegetables at every meal
To supply all the amino acids you need to maximize muscle tone, have one of the following: 3 to 4 ounces of skinless poultry, lean beef (sirloin, tenderloin, or roast), or seafood (fresh, frozen, or canned, the latter packed in water; limit albacore tuna to 6 ounces per week because it contains more mercury than other types); or one egg or two to three egg whites. (After youve completed the six-week plan, include a variety of vegetarian protein sources in your diet for a broader spectrum of nutrients.) Also, have one serving per meal of any kind of fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables, and/or legumes.
2. Snack on a half cup of unsalted nuts or seeds plus fresh fruit, twice a day
Yes, nuts are high in fat and calories. But theyre also great sources of protein, fiber, good fats, and antioxidants (to fight wrinkle-causing inflammation)and, most important, theyll fill you up. Go for lower-cal nuts like almonds over higher-cal picks like Brazil nuts. If you finish your last meal more than three hours before bedtime, eat a pre-sleep snack as well. Dont like nuts or seeds? Try 2 tablespoons of organic nut butter instead.
3. Avoid dairy, soy, and grain products for the first three to four weeks
These are the types of foods most likely to trigger food sensitivities, which may lead to bloating, low energy levels, and dry, unhealthy skin. “Food sensitivities cause a chronic state of low-grade inflammation that can hurt every system in your body, from your heart to your bones to your skin,” explains Christine Lydon, MD, who created this diet.
Beginning with week four, you can add up to 100 calories per meal of dairy or soy products (e.g., 7 ounces of low-fat milk or 4 ounces of tofu). And starting with week five, you can also have up to 100 calories per meal of whole-grain-based foods (such as a slice of multigrain bread, 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 1/2 cup of whole-wheat pasta, or 1/3 cup of brown rice), potatoes, or sweet potatoes. If you notice symptoms like bloating after adding any of these foods, cut back again.
4. Cut out processed foods
Its best to do without cookies, chips, etc. for the entire six-week plan, and eat them in moderation after that. Why? Processed carbs contribute to inflammation and, thus, aging, Lydon says.
5. Drink 10 to 12 ounces of fluid every time you eat
Go for water, sparkling water, or iced unsweetened green or herbal tea (add fresh lemon, lime, or berry juice for more flavor) instead of diet sodas. Good news: You can treat yourself to a cup or two of black coffee or tea a day.
6. Pop your vitamins
Take a daily high-potency multivitamin for overall good health; cold-water fish oil (2 to 3 grams twice a day) to fight inflammation, reduce sun damage, and improve skin; calcium (350 to 500 milligrams twice a day) to build strong bones; and magnesium (200 to 400 milligrams twice a day) to help your body absorb the calcium. Also, be sure your multivitamin contains 5 micrograms of vitamin D to help with calcium absorption.