|How to shed middle-age spread: Banish the dangerous spare tyre in just six weeks|
By Louise Atkinson
Last updated at 6:37 PM on 9th April 2010
DO YOU HAVE THE WRONG TYPE OF FAT?
The fat around your middle is dangerous visceral fat, it will stay roughly the same rounded shape whether you're standing up or lying down.
If it's ordinary fat, it will fall to the sides when lying down, decreasing the front-to-back dimension significantly.
Stand against a wall - don't hold your tummy - and measure yourself from back to front with a straight ruler (lie something flat across your tummy as a point of reference), then lie down and measure again.
If the depth of your belly doesn't change between the two positions, then you're more than likely carrying a fair amount of visceral fat.
Millions of us suffer from it - the dangerously unhealthy spare tyre that won't budge. But doctors now claim a new diet can banish it in six weeks. And best of all, juicy steaks and glasses of wine are allowed!
There comes a point in everyone's life when they start to expand around the waist. For some, it's an eternal battle that just becomes harder-fought with age. For others, it is the first unpleasant realisation that you can no longer eat what you like without spilling over your jeans.
Worryingly, experts now understand that the fat that collects around the abdomen has dangerous implications for our health - raising blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increasing your risk of diabetes, Alzheimer's and even some cancers. It's far more sinister than fat elsewhere in the body.
Experts say the fat that collects around the abdomen has dangerous implications for our health such as raising blood pressure and cholesterol levels
But now, a husband-and-wife GP team have come up with a diet plan that targets this stubborn fat, stripping inches off the waistline and promising to shift up to 20 lb in just six weeks.
The authors, Dr Mary Dan Eades and Dr Michael Eades, have drawn on two decades of experience running obesity clinics in the U.S. Not only will you lose this dangerous fat, but you'll do so drinking shakes made with cream; and after the first two weeks, you are actively encouraged to include oils and fats in your diet.
The plan has been devised to force your body to use this harmful abdominal fat as fuel, while at the same time re-training it to store fat in a more healthy and slim-waisted way.
TRICKING YOUR BODY TO SHED WEIGHT
Beating your middle-aged middle is all about tricking your body into reversing some of the harmful processes that lead to it.
Spread is caused by a combination of factors, including poor diet, changing hormones and certain medications.
The problem with poor diet is that it can lead to 'fatty liver' - a condition that affects one-third of people in Western populations.
While the exact cause is not clear, excessive consumption of sugar and omega-6 fats ( polyunsaturated fatty acids found in vegetable oils) in modern diets is thought to be to blame.
'Fatty liver' affects the organ's ability to perform one of its primary jobs, detoxification - the breaking down of harmful toxic substances such as drugs, environmental pollutants and hormones.
Meanwhile, the body is also coming under pressure from too much sugar in the diet; and this, combined with stress, causes high blood sugar levels. The body produces more insulin to mop it all up, but a fatty liver can't break it down as it should and it ends up as more fat in the middle of the body.
Hormones add to this. The female hormone oestrogen instructs the body to store fat on the hips and thighs; but as levels decline with age, the target for storage shifts to the abdomen.
Likewise, men experience a drop in testosterone levels. And if they have high insulin levels or a fatty liver, this can lead to more fat on their breasts and bellies.
The problem is not just one of aesthetics, either. The fat that gathers in and around the vital organs in the abdomen is called 'visceral fat', and it behaves very differently to ordinary 'subcutaneous fat', which settles all over the body under the skin.
In fact, when there's enough of it, visceral fat can behave like an active organ that responds to brain chemicals and hormones and sends out its own chemical messages.
One of the things it triggers is inflammation in the blood vessels - damaging them and making it more likely for your blood to form clots, which is bad news for the coronary arteries. Some scientists believe that this, not cholesterol in the blood, triggers cardio-vascular disease.
The two Dr Eades argue that middle-age spread doesn't respond readily to the old adage of 'eat less and exercise more'. But with the right nutritional tools, it can be quickly reduced.
SO HOW DOES THE DIET WORK?
Start the diet with homemade protein shakes that target the liver
The diet kicks off with a two-week programme of nutritionally-packed home-made protein shakes. In the first week, they target the liver, reducing its load by banning toxins like caffeine and alcohol and by encouraging it to give up its accumulated fat reserves so it can function normally again.
The shakes are based on the principle that high levels of protein send a signal to the brain and cells that you've been nourished. Basically, you feel full despite the fact that you haven't consumed many calories.
The shakes also contain leucine, an amino acid found in meat, thought to accelerate weight loss. Leucine also helps prevent or slow the loss of lean body muscle which often occurs with rapid weight loss. (What dieters often don't realise is that you actually need muscle in order to burn calories.)
Controversially, the shakes contain saturated fat in the form of coconut milk or double cream. The authors claim this is because saturated fat has been shown to help the liver metabolise and burn any fat collected there.
Following these guidelines in the first two weeks will be enough to reset your metabolism, reduce your insulin levels and purge the liver cells of much of their fat. Once the liver is clear and working properly again, you'll be on the road to maximising the amount of abdominal fat you can lose from both around and also within the organs.
The second part of the plan, which lasts another two weeks, is high protein but low carb. This provides your body with lots of high-octane fuel but very few carbohydrates, and is designed dramatically to reduce insulin levels so the body learns to be more sensitive to it.
Once you get your insulin levels working effectively, it helps clear sugar from the blood, so boosting fat-burning, discouraging fat storage, and further speeding the removal of fat from the liver cells. There is no limit on fat: in fact, meals should be fat-rich to boost your metabolism.
The final two-week stage remains high protein, but re-introduces just enough carbohydrates to ease your body into its new equilibrium.
WARNING: If you are on medication, consult your GP before starting this plan, as the diet can have a dramatic blood-pressure and blood-sugar lowering effect.
THE SIX-WEEK PLAN
WEEKS 1 & 2:
* Have three protein shakes a day (recipe below).
* Have just one meal a day, combining protein with fruit and vegetables low in starch and sugar (see suggestions).
* You are not allowed alcohol, caffeine, or unnecessary medications, unless prescribed by your GP.
* Drink plenty of water.
* Get seven hours' sleep a night.
* Add a little salt to your diet (to restore fluid balance).
* Take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, ideally one aimed at the over-50s, plus 400mg of potassium magnesium (to replace lost minerals and prevent tiredness and muscle cramps) every day.
* You eat only the one specified meal (no dairy) and the three shakes - nothing else.
POWER UP! PROTEIN SHAKE
180ml (6 fl oz) water
2 tbsp double cream or premium coconut milk
1-3 scoops low-carb whey protein powder (from health food stores). If you weigh 9st and under, use 1 scoop; 9st-12st 7lb, use 2 scoops; 12st 7lb and above use 3 scoops)
2 tspns leucine powder (approx £8 for 250g from bodybuilding sites on the internet) 10-12 ice cubes
1-2 tspn low-calorie sweetener (opt)
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. The shake can be infinitely varied by using different-flavoured protein powders (usually available in vanilla, strawberry or chocolate), substituting cold decaf coffee or low-cal drinks for the water, throwing in a handful of frozen berries instead of ice, and switching sugar-free flavoured syrups (caramel or hazelnut ,for instance) for plain sweetener.
Eat only one meal a day, whether at breakfast, lunchtime, or in the evening. For example:
BREAKFAST: Omelette made with 3 large eggs, 30g butter, 3 tbsp mixed peppers, 1 tbsp chopped onion with bacon or 2 tbsp cheese and tomato slices sprinkled with salt.
LUNCH: Grilled chicken breast with mayonnaise, mustard, pickle or ketchup; 1 small orange.
DINNER: Grilled steak with 6 spears of roasted asparagus drizzled in olive oil, cauliflower puree (with butter, cream cheese and double cream), 5 baby carrots; 75g fresh strawberries with whipped cream.
WEEKS 3 AND 4: RULES
* Go back to three meals a day with unlimited meat and eggs (at least one 3oz-4oz portion per meal). See menu choices below.
* Meals should be fat-rich but contain no dairy (apart from butter in cooking and a splash of milk in coffee).
* Choose only low-carb fruit and vegetables (eg berries and leafy greens).
* Avoid grains (wheat, corn, rice, oats) and flour, or starchy veg or pulses (potatoes, beans, peas).
* You are allowed alcohol; enjoy a glass of wine, half a pint of beer or 1 shot of spirits twice a week; and caffeine; you can have 2-3 cups a day (ideally black).
* You can start taking medications again - but as infrequently as possible.
* Take 4-5 tsps of leucine (the amino acid powder you put in protein shakes) every day to help preserve lean body tissues (either as capsules or mixed with water).
* Keep taking the vitamins, drinking water and maintain your salt intake.
* If hungry, eat more fat and protein (not vegetables).
BREAKFAST: Hard-boiled eggs (as many as you like) and smoked salmon slices with half a fresh tomato, salted and drizzled with olive oil; OR eggs fried in butter with crisp bacon (unlimited) and 75g (2½ oz) cherry tomatoes.
LUNCHES: Burgers (unlimited) and crisp bacon, between two crunchy lettuce leaves instead of a bun, half an avocado, 1 slice tomato; OR rotisserie chicken with green salad.
DINNER: Grilled salmon steak with 5 roasted asparagus spears; OR lamb and red pepper kebabs with 50g (1"oz) salad leaves and vinaigrette dressing.
WEEKS 5 AND 6
By now you should have lost quite a bit of weight (20lb is not unusual) and your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels will be substantially improved. (If you still have weight to lose, alternate the first and second phase weekly until your target weight is reached.) The hardest work is over and now it's time to learn how to eat to maintain your newly slender silhouette.
* Eat as much meat, fish and eggs as you like.
* You can now eat full-fat dairy products (cheese, yoghurt, cream).
* You can drink alcohol in moderation (2 drinks per day but not every day).
* Continue to take vitamin supplements as nutritional insurance.
* Start eating starchy vegetables and grains, but in limited quantities (no more than 12g of net carbs as grains per day - to work this out, subtract the fibre grams from total carb grams). This means eating only one portion of any of the following: 1 slice bread (6-7g); 40g (1 1¼ oz) cooked rice (10g); 170g (6 oz) cooked porridge (10g); 1 large handful plain popcorn (5g); 50g (1 and 3/4 oz) cooked potato (9g); ¼ baked potato, including skin (9g).
As long as you stay slim, you can increase your carb intake until your weight starts to creep back. The more active you are, the more carbs you can tolerate.
Most people stay slim on 60g-80g of net carbs a day. But beware cakes, pies and biscuits. A single bagel, for instance, contains about 36g of carbs, but it would take 92 asparagus spears, 800g of broccoli or 9 tomatoes to equal that. It's a bonus that the foods that keep you lean also keep you healthy.
BREAKFASTS - smoked salmon scramble (3 eggs, 30g cream cheese, 60g smoked salmon, chopped, half tbspn chopped onion, tomato and capers) with 85g (3 oz) cherry tomatoes and 85g (3oz) melon cubes.
LUNCH - Hot dog with bun (or switch the bun for an orange), half a cup coleslaw.
DINNER - stir fry of pork and vegetables (50g of vegetables), 240ml (8oz) miso soup, 60g berries with whipped cream.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Having arrived at the end of the programme, you have a choice:
* Continue with the last two weeks of the diet but enjoy the occasional dietary break (a croissant, cappuccino, decadent dessert after dinner). Make each break count. Plan it, look forward to it and enjoy it. OR ...
* Alternate every other day on week 5 and 6 plan with a day of 3 shakes and 1 meal (as per week 1-2 plan).
* Stick with week 5 and 6 plan, but replace one meal a day with a shake. Select whatever plan you can stick with over the long haul and you will be rewarded with a lean middle far beyond middle age.
Adapted from Lose Your Middle-Aged Middle by Mary Dan Eades and Michael J Eades, published by Piatkus at £12.99. ° Nutridox LLD 2010. To order a copy at £11.70 (p&p free), call 0845 155 0720.