There are plenty of diet plans which ensure rapid weight loss, however the results are often short-term fixes instead of healthy lifestyle choices which keep the weight off in the long run. Here are 5 alternative nutrition programmes for burning fat, losing weight and looking and feeling incredible.
If you struggle with sticking to a long-term nutrition plan or simply prefer more leeway on weekends, the 80/20 diet offers 5-6 days of healthy eating and 1-2 days of less strict (but still sensible) nutrition.
During training days aim for 2,400 calories in total (about 295g of carbs, 170g of protein and 60g fat), while rest days don’t require any calorie counting.
Although you can technically eat whatever you want on your off days, it’s still important to exercise some moderation.
Protein Chef advises: “I don't spend every waking moment filling my face with rubbish. Sometimes it is smoked salmon and scrambled egg on wholemeal bread. Other times, it’s a slice of carrot cake the size of my head. This, my friends, is what we call balance.”
80/20 meal planning ideas (training days)
- Breakfast: protein pancakes with blueberries and honey
- Pre-workout: coconut oil coffee and dates
- Workout snack: protein shake with water
- Post-workout: cauliflower rice with chili
- Dinner: Greek yoghurt, nut butter, cereal and cacao nibs
Intermittent fasting (lean gains diet)
Although not exactly a diet, the ‘lean gains’ variation of intermittent fasting offers an 8-hour window for eating each day, with the other 16 hours spent fasting.
You’re not lowering your calorie intake; you’re simply consuming them in a much smaller timeframe. This can promote muscle gain and fat loss and even lower stress levels.
The trick is making your ‘fasting window’ work for your daily routine.
Our Social Media Intern starts eating at 1pm and finishes by 9pm. Time before 1 or after 9 is spent in a fasted state. He usually consumes a litre of water before his meal, along with a few cups of coffee.
For fat loss, consume carbs before and after workouts, while steadily eating protein throughout your window to rebuild muscle (ideally every 2 hours).
If you’re struggling with cravings (especially when you start), try chewing gum or adding cinnamon to your coffee.
Intermittent fasting meal planning ideas
- Breakfast (in first hour): oats, protein, banana, cinnamon and peanut butter
- Pre-workout: chicken, rice, broccoli, asparagus and hot sauce
- Workout snack: dextrose tablets (natural sugar)
- Post-workout: tuna, pasta, cheddar, onions and sweetcorn
- Dinner (no later than 8 hours after breakfast): steak, sweet potato, mushrooms and spinach
Low in carbs and high in healthy fat, the keto diet sources energy from ketones produced by the liver instead of using glucose from carbohydrates. When your body uses fats for energy, your metabolism is in a ‘ketogenic state’. A metabolic state of ‘glycolysis’, instead, is fuelled mostly by carbs and sugar.
Because the body has less insulin from less carbs, it starts burning your fat reserves for fuel instead.
Standard keto diet
There are several variations of the keto diet which you can tailor to your personal training goals. The standard keto diet is extremely high in fats like eggs and avocado, with 5% carbs and 10-20% protein.
Targeted keto diet
If you’re exercising regularly, the targeted keto diet allows more carbs before and after a workout to fuel the body and aid recovery.
High protein keto diet
For building muscle, the high protein keto diet swaps out some fats for more protein to assist growth and recovery, while crucially keeping the carbs to a minimum.
If you’re consuming 2,200-2,400 calories, your daily diet should include 20g of carbs, 170g of protein and 160-180g of fat.
This diet can, however, trigger ‘keto flu’. This is the body reacting and adapting to the lower levels of carbs and shouldn’t last longer than a couple of days.
If you struggle abandoning your favourite carbs, try sweet potatoes, yams and oats as an alternative.
High protein keto meal planning ideas
- Breakfast: bacon, eggs, avocado and halloumi
- Pre-workout: broccoli, chicken and zucchini topped with cheese
- Workout snack: a handful of nuts, seeds and berries
- Post-workout: rump steak with asparagus wrapped in bacon
- Dinner: peppers stuffed with mozzarella, pizza sauce and pepperoni
The ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ (IIFYM) diet allows you to use carbs, protein and fat as a source of energy, however you track calories to hit specific macronutrient targets. These targets, of course, depend on your personal weight loss goals.
What makes this diet especially attractive is the flexibility. If you want to add some chocolate to your morning porridge, for example, simply lower the carbs and fat in your other meals so that you do not exceed your overall daily target.
For the best results, vegetables, vitamins and fibres need to be prioritised in order to enjoy the foods considered ‘bad’ (or less nutritious).
For healthy weight loss, keep your fats low (20-30%) and carbs high. If you’re consuming 2,200-2,400 calories per day, aim for 250-295g of carbs, 170g of protein and 60g of fat.
IIFYM meal planning ideas
- Breakfast: oats with milk, cinnamon, banana and chocolate
- Pre-workout: chicken with sweet potato wedges
- Workout snack: handful of gummy bears
- Post-workout: bacon medallion sandwich using wholemeal bread
- Dinner: oats with casein protein powder, unsweetened almond milk and Nutella
Paleo diet (OK, maybe you have heard of this one…)
Also known as the ‘caveman diet’, this nutrition plan focusses solely on food that humans ate 10,000 years ago before the agricultural revolution.
This means lots of fruit, vegetables, unprocessed meat, eggs, nuts and seeds. It also means no grains, legumes (including pulses and peanuts), dairy, refined sugars and extra salt. Naturally, this decreases your intake of additives and preservatives as well.
Quite simply, the removal of starchy vegetables helps your body burn fat.
Again, your body may take time to adapt to the lower levels of carbs and sugar, but the benefits can be huge.
Paleo meal planning ideas
- Breakfast: eggs, smoked salmon and a handful of cashews
- Pre-workout: chicken, avocado and coconut oil coffee
- Workout snack: a handful of nuts and a banana
- Post-workout: steak, eggs and almonds
- Dinner: salmon, asparagus wrapped in bacon, spinach and broccoli
How else can I achieve the best weight loss result?
Experiment with your diet plan
Everyone is different, so we recommend experimenting with these diets to find out what works best for you.
There is also no reason why you cannot combine different diet plans. Protein Chef, for example, likes to mix the IIFYM and 80/20 diets. This promotes a healthy lifestyle while keeping the cravings at bay.
“I eat a set number of carbs, proteins and fats each day,” she explains. “80% of that is healthy eating: lean meat, fish, wholegrains, good fats, fruit and vegetables. The other 20% is less nutritious options, like chocolate, cereal, biscuits and processed foods.”
Combine your diet with an active lifestyle
Whether it’s running, playing sports or training in the gym or at home, combining your diet plan with an active lifestyle promotes weight loss and higher levels of energy.
We also recommend adding a Slendertone abs belt to your exercise programme so that you can firm and tighten the stomach muscles and strengthen your core.
Slendertone works all four of the abdominal muscles including the deep, difficult to train transversus abdominis. This muscle helps reduce your waistline by pulling in the tummy. Clinical trials on our abs belts (Porcari 2005 and 2009), in fact, found that users could reduce their waist size by an average of 3.5cm from 8 weeks.
Does Slendertone work?
You can also read Protein Chef’s own Slendertone Connect review (spoiler alert: she recommends it).