The DASH Diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was originally developed by nutritionist Marla Heller to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and help ward off diabetes.
However, the diet proved hugely successful as a weight loss plan and has led to results so amazing that it was voted the healthiest diet in the US by a panel of doctors. It was named 'Best Overall Diet', beating diet favourites Atkins, Paleo and Dukan. What's more, people tend to lose around 5lb in the first two weeks and between 10lb and 35lb over a period of two months on this plan. Intrigued? So were we!
What is The DASH diet?Nutritionist Marla Heller came up with the diet as a way of lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol and helping to ward off diabetes without medication, but it seems the health benefits from following the plan can have fantastic results for your figure too!
Rather than following a strict eating plan and counting calories like other diets, instead you'll be focusing on the types of foods you are eating. It's a well-known fact that the diets that work the best are those that are easy to maintain for a long period of time, in fact they should become less of a 'diet' and more of a lifestyle choice, which is exactly what the DASH diet aims to be. Have you been putting off dieting for fear you'll spend your life hungry? We have good news! The DASH diet promises that you won't go hungry after you've reset your metabolism and filled up on good-for-you lean proteins, healthy fats and wholegrains.
What are the pros?Unlike other crash diets that can not only have an adverse affect on your health but cause you to pile the pounds back on as soon as you stop, the DASH diet is scientifically proven to actually boost your health. Heller also promises that by following the simple diet you could transform your body without counting calories or punishing fitness regimes. Sounds good to us!
What are the cons?If you're looking for drastically dramatic weight loss results in a hurry, this isn't the diet for you. It's important to remember that this diet aims to become a healthy lifestyle plan to keep up for as long as possible, so it's not suitable for those wanting a quick fix!
How does the DASH diet work?The DASH diet is split into two phases:
Phase 1This lasts for two weeks, and is a low-carbohydrate transition phase that's designed to reset your metabolism. This first phase is not dissimilar to the Atkins or Paleo diets in that it's very high in protein. But it will keep you feeling fuller for longer and, because it's low in carbs and sugars, it can have immediate effects on the waistline in most people.
Phase 2Phase 2 follows immediately after, and you'll be happy to hear that this is where the carbs make a comeback! It's still important to pick 'good' carbs though, such as wholegrains, and fruit too. This phase is all about maintaining and continuing your weight loss, as well as improving cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
What can I eat on the DASH diet?
Phase 1Say hello to your new friend, the vegetable! You're going to be seeing a lot of them (but at least we know for a fact that they're good for us!) You can eat as many non-starchy veggies as you want to - there are no limits. Get to know which foods are rich in protein too, such as lean meat, fish, low-fat cheese and nuts. These are great because you'll be feeling fuller for longer and resist the urge to snack!
Phase 2Keep up with getting lots of non-starchy vegetables and lean proteins, but you can now start eating some wholegrains (no more than three portions) and fruit (two portions) daily. Hoorah!
One portion of wholegrain = one slice of wholemeal bread, half a wholemeal muffin, half a wholemeal bread roll, half a cup of cooked wholemeal pasta or brown rice, half a jacket potato or three new potatoes with skins on, one tbsp wholegrain cereal.
One portion of fruit = one small piece of fresh fruit, half a glass of fruit juice, one dessertspoon of dried fruit, 1 tbsp of canned fruit in juice.
- Try to avoid naturally sweet food and opt for things that are artificially sweetened instead
- Decrease your portion size
- Snack on nuts (unsalted) and seeds - nuts in particular as they're heart healthy
- Non-fat fruit yogurt and fruit-flavoured jelly are great snack options for when you need something sweet
- Cut out as many processed foods as possible
- Use any opportunity to do some exercise - walk wherever you can and try to get your heart rate going as much as possible!