Last year I collaborated with Olivia Richardson on her article, All-day energy: The world’s best diet. Here it is…
Academics from Yale University analysed low-carb, low-fat, low-GI, Mediterranean, Paleo, vegan and mixed/balanced (‘DASH’) diets and found the best is in fact none, but “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants” for optimal health, energy and disease prevention.
So what could a day on the world’s healthiest diet look like?
Refined-carb cereals and toasts are out. “Opt for protein and fibre-rich breakfasts to keep you full through the morning and prevent poor choices and snacking later on,” says wholefoods nutritionist Sasha Hutchinson. Try homemade Bircher muesli with unsweetened Greek yoghurt, rolled oats with a splash of milk and berries, wholemeal toast with almond butter; or free-range eggs with spinach and avocado.
Enjoy a light snack such as nuts, fruit, sliced apple with a little almond butter, or avocado and tomato on a brown rice cracker to keep your metabolism kicking till lunch. “Good fats and protein found in nut butter and avocado are great for satiety, but are also high in kilojoules, so don’t overdo it,” warns Hutchinson.
Go for plants and protein combined with good fats and complex carbs, such as raw fish and brown rice sushi with wakame salad, says Hutchinson. Add avocado to the mix to decrease appetite by 40 per cent for the next three hours. And if you’re trying to lose weight? Eat your main meal of the day now-ish. One Spanish found dieters who ate their heaviest meal (40 per cent of their daily total kilojoules) before 3pm, lost two kilograms more than those who ate big later – despite similar exercise and sleep levels.
Sip water or herbal tea between meals to keep your eyes bright and skin hydrated from the inside. “If your urine isn’t almost totally clear, you’re probably not drinking enough,” advises Hutchinson.
3pm: If you’ve got sugar cravings, eat fruit or go a cup of sweet licorice root tea. Feeling peckish? Select protein-rich snacks to keep you feeling full for longer, such as nuts, a hard-boiled egg, almond meal bliss balls, celery sticks with homemade hummus, or pulses. Research shows a 160g serve of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils increases satiety by 31 per cent.
Load up your plate with lots of green veggies with some wild-caught fish or seafood, grass-fed beef or free-range chicken, says Hutchinson. And avoid white rice. A study published in the British Medical Journal found each 158g incremental serve increases type two diabetes risk by 10 per cent, while 50g of brown rice reduces your risk by 16 per cent.Even better – 50g of wheat or barley cuts the chance by 36 per cent.
Choose full-fat and/or unsweetened Greek yoghurt with berries, nuts and a drizzle of pure maple syrup; a couple of dates (medjool are fudgy), frozen grapes or Hutchinson’s banana choc mousse – blend a ripe, frozen banana, teaspoon of raw cacao and sprinkle of cinnamon in a food processor. Nuts and cinnamon help regulate blood glucose levels, so are great with sugary foods.
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*This article is not intended as nutritional advice, for personalised recommendations, please contact me.