Supercharge your diet

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  • Forget energy bars – energy foods are what you need. Nutritionist Monica Grenfell shows you how to recharge this winter, and lose 7lb.

    Monica says:
    Feel like hibernating for the winter? Are you so sluggish and lacking energy that you just want to go back to bed? Is your first port of call a bar of chocolate or energy bar? Do they work? No, they don’t. You want energy that lasts all day, not just for a couple of hours. You want to feel great inside and jump out of bed each morning, ready for the day. Well, today I’m going to give you the secrets to lasting energy that will help you burn more calories and lose 7lb in the first two weeks – and less weight will make you even more energetic!

    Why do we feel more sluggish in winter?
    The pineal gland in our brain is the sleep sensor. When daylight fades, it produces the hormone melatonin, which makes you feel drowsy. Daylight releases cortisol to wake you and make you feel alert. Melatonin is more active in winter and with the cold, we’re likely to exercise less. The result? Weight gain!

    Energy truths and myths
    1. Energy comes from calories and calories come from food, but more food won’t give you more energy – all excess calories are stored as fat.
    2. Raising blood sugar levels won’t make you feel more energetic if your life is dull and your real problem is boredom.
    3. When you get an energy slump, always try fresh air and water first. Lack of oxygen is a common cause of sluggishness.

    The foods

    First alert – Protein
    For the brain, carbohydrates, especially sugars, are downers.
    Protein-containing foods are uppers. When you want to stay sharp, don’t
    have chocolate, sweets, energy bars, pasta or rice, unless you have some
    protein with them. For the best energy, eat protein foods alone.

    Do eat:
    – Lean beef – Skimmed milk – Turkey and chicken – Eggs – Seafood – A little protein with your carbs – they block the brain-dulling effects – Coffee. Caffeine suppresses the ‘down’ chemicals of food. It’s why we have it after meals – Carbohydrate in the evening for a restful sleep

    Don’t have:
    – Regular alcohol – Fat, another downer because it takes a long time to digest – Carbohydrates on an empty stomach, like bread rolls, crisps and poppadoms while waiting for a meal

    Never have a sweet carbohydrate as a snack – it will drag you down.
    Try these – they’re 100 calories each:
    – 1 hard-boiled egg on 1 French toast – Mixed, colourful salad with vinaigrette – 1 tbsp cottage cheese with carrot sticks – 3 Brazil nuts and an apple – Pot of plain yogurt – 1 banana

    Meal planner

    Tip: Learn to separate foods on your plate and always eat the protein before the carbohydrate.

    Breakfasts – 250 calories
    Drink coffee, tea or water and extra ½ pint skimmed milk a day.
    – 1 boiled egg (eat this first). 1 pot low-fat yogurt with fruit.
    – Cottage cheese omelette using 1 whole egg and 3 whites and 1 tbsp cottage cheese. 300ml fresh apple or grapefruit juice.
    – Large skimmed milk latte. 3 tbsp fruit salad with 1 pot yogurt.
    – Bircher Muesli – soak 30g porridge oats in 250ml skimmed milk, add ½
    grated apple, ½ banana, a few hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, 1tbsp natural
    yogurt and a few raspberries and fold in.
    – 2 eggs, scrambled, with 1 slice wholemeal toast and butter (eat the
    eggs first).
    – 30g Bran Flakes, 250ml skimmed milk, 1 peach, sliced, topped with 3
    Brazil nuts, flaked.
    – Honey yogurt whip – add 100g berries to 1 pot plain yogurt, and top
    with 1 tsp runny honey.

    Lunches – 300 calories
    – Small tin tuna in spring water, green salad, banana and yogurt.
    – 100g low-fat cottage cheese and fruit platter. Have a mix of berries, banana, peach and mango.
    – 1 cold roast chicken breast, sliced, with mixed colourful salad.
    Vinaigrette dressing. 1 apple.
    – Carrot and celery sticks with 100g houmous dip. Small pot low fat rice
    – 40g cheese on 2 multigrain Ryvitas, 2 sliced tomatoes. 1 pot plain
    yogurt with 1 tbsp mango purée (tinned).
    – 300ml broccoli, asparagus or spinach soup. Bread roll and butter (eat
    afterwards). 1 apple.
    – Light Caesar salad – 70g cooked chicken, handful Cos lettuce leaves, 1
    hard-boiled egg, chopped, 1 tbsp croutons and 1 tbsp light Caesar
    dressing, 1 tbsp fresh Parmesan.

    Dinners – 400 calories
    – 180g grilled salmon, unlimited steamed green vegetables. 8
    strawberries with 1 tbsp creme fraiche.
    – 200g grilled lean steakburger with 1 corn-on-the-cob, 2 tbsp roasted
    Mediterranean vegetables. 1 baked apple filled with sultanas.
    – 3-egg Spanish omelette with peppers, mushrooms, onions, peas and green
    salad. Fruit salad.
    – 100g stir-fried beef strips with Thai chilli dressing, 2tbsp
    stir-fried vegetables. 1 roasted pineapple ring with 1 tbsp Greek
    – 210g portion moussaka with large green salad.
    – Chicken Waldorf salad – 100g diced chicken, 6 walnuts, ½
    avocado mixed with 1 tbsp mayonnaise, piled on to shredded lettuce. 3
    tbsp fruit salad.

    Recipes to try:
    Creamy spinach & stilton soup
    Smoked chicken and asparagus salad
    Healthy-eating recipes

    Where to next?
    Find your right diet style
    Woman’s Own: Beat The Bloat Diet
    Party food swaps