NHS weight-loss expert Dr Saira Hameed explains how her revolutionary new Full Diet helps you shed pounds by simply training your body (and mind) to recognise when you’ve eaten enough
Simply train your body (and mind) to recognise when you’ve eaten enough
Imagine a diet based on game-changing science that gets exceptional weight-loss results. A diet that turns everything you think you know about healthy eating on its head. A diet with no food weighing, calorie counting, supplements, restrictions or hunger.
Dr Saira Hameed explains how her revolutionary new Full Diet helps you shed pounds
Sounds too good to be true? Well, that is The Full Diet and it can help anyone, however much weight you want to lose. It was created by me and a team of doctors and scientists at Imperial College London. We examined the scientific evidence and built a new programme, and our patients at the Imperial Weight Centre – one of the UK’s leading NHS weight-loss clinics – took part in a clinical research study: typically, they lost a similar amount of weight to people who have had gastric band surgery. They also saw their blood pressure fall, their diabetes reverse and their wellbeing sky-rocket.
Now you can do the same. Your healthier, happier, fuller future is just about to begin. Firstly, you need to adjust your mindset and let go of all the conventional wisdom about diets, weight loss and healthy eating with these straightforward switches…
Calorie counting doesn’t work
In fact, it is destined to fail because it puts you in a fight with your body’s biochemistry.
When you are on a low-calorie diet, your body is programmed via evolution to register the lack of food as a survival threat and triggers a hormonal ‘starvation response’. There is less fuel coming in, so your body slows down your metabolism in order to use fuel more efficiently. A slowed-down metabolism makes it hard for you to lose weight because it burns fewer calories.
‘Burning it off’ is a myth
Get out of the ‘burn it off’ mindset. This is part of the ‘calories-in-calories-out’ way of thinking, which is used to offset certain food choices, like eating biscuits because you’ll work them off in the gym later.
The problem is that the biscuits affect the body over and above weight gain, because the sugar itself in the biscuits causes damage. Although most of the sugar will be swept into your three fuel tanks (your liver, muscles and body fat), some will be deposited in other parts of your body, including your heart, kidneys and brain. In time, these delicate body parts become ‘sugar-coated’ (a process known as glycation).
Skip low-fat and processed foods
Forty years ago, food guidelines were issued based on the idea that eating fat was the cause of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and was also responsible for weight gain, so we started eating food labelled ‘low-fat’. But as a result, we got fatter. In 1980, just before the low-fat guidance was issued, seven per cent of the country was, by medical classification, obese, a condition that now affects more than one in four of us. When we also include the number of people who are overweight, we see that 64 per cent of us have a weight issue, which means that in the UK today it is more ‘normal’ to be overweight or obese than to have a healthy body weight.
Ultra-processed foods – biscuits, fizzy drinks, sweets and crisps – also drive weight gain over and above their calorie content.
Skip insulin-producing foods
When you eat carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, biscuits, cereal, pastries), your body quickly breaks them down into glucose (sugar), which moves from your gut into your blood. Your body doesn’t like this because it interferes with its correct functioning so, to bring the blood sugar level back down to normal, the body produces insulin.
Insulin can’t make the sugar magically disappear. Instead, any sugar that is not immediately needed for use by your body is swept into its fuel tanks: firstly, into your liver and muscles, and then into your fat. The result is that you gain weight. Put it this way: if you eat toast, cereal and orange juice for breakfast, the increase in your blood sugar level is equivalent to 24 teaspoons of sugar. By the time that sugar hits your blood, your body has no idea whether you had breakfast or a slice of cake – the effect on your blood sugar level is the same.
Eating fat does not make you fat
Eating healthy, natural fats, in the way that past generations of humans always used to, does not make you fat. Sugar makes you fat. The key is to choose natural, healthy fats (dairy, meat, oily fish, nuts, seeds, natural oils like olive oil) and avoid synthetic processed fats, like trans fats.
Contrary to popular belief, the cholesterol that is measured in your blood tests is not the cholesterol that you eat; it is made inside your body by your liver. Eating The Full Diet way, which includes healthy fats, increases good, heart-healthy cholesterol (HDL) and reduces triglyceride levels – a pattern that lowers your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Eat one-ingredient foods
One ingredient foods include eggs, milk, natural yogurt, meat, fish and seafood, nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices. These foods do not break down into a lot of sugar, which means that you don’t need to produce much insulin in response to eating them – and low insulin levels are the signal to fat to break down, transforming you into a fat-burning machine. The result? You lose weight. Simple.
Support your gut bacteria
There are over 100 trillion bacteria living in your gut, and these affect your appetite and your weight. When you eat fibre, it is your gut bacteria that digest it. The end products are short-chain fatty acids, which have a wide range of functions in your body – including suppressing your appetite.
When you nourish your gut bacteria, you help them to make output products that control your weight and keep you feeling full. ‘Feed’ your gut bacteria with foods rich in probiotics, such as natural or Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, miso and kimchi.
Tune in to your gut-brain signals
Over hundreds of thousands of years, your body has evolved a state-of-the-art, finely tuned hunger and fullness communication system between your gut and your brain. This is controlled by your body’s hormones.
When you haven’t eaten for some time, your stomach sends out ghrelin – the hunger hormone signal. When you eat, your stomach stops sending ghrelin and sends fullness gut hormones that tell your brain to ‘stop eating now’. But it takes 20 minutes for your brain to receive this information. Set a timer on your phone after you eat and wait.
When you eat The Full Diet way, the fullness hormone messages from your gut to your brain start coming through loud and clear. Many of my patients love this sense of fullness, leaving them feeling satisfied and able to easily move on from food for several hours after eating. There are certain protein-rich foods which produce a particularly strong message: eggs, meat, fish, shellfish, nuts, seeds, dairy, tofu, legumes and beans.
When you eat is as important as what you eat
Having an ‘eating window’ allows you to use the science behind this statement. The idea is to choose to eat at specific times and to choose other periods when you don’t eat. By doing this you will be changing the way your body’s hormones and genes work, using your biology to boost your health and drive your weight loss.
Divide your day into two periods. During the first, your eating window is open and you can eat if hungry. When you close your eating window, rather than running on food, your body gets its energy by tapping into its fuel tanks. After a few hours, the stored fuel in your liver and muscles will be used up, and you tap into your third fuel tank: body fat.
Open your eating window when your ghrelin hunger message first feels strong – this is often between 11am and 2pm. Close it at least two hours before you go to bed. Aim to have it open for eight hours, closed for 16.
If you like to drink tea or coffee in the morning, either black or with a small amount of milk, then you can continue to do this while your eating window remains closed.
Most importantly, this is your diet programme, your way
Feel free to tailor both your timings and food choices to make them perfectly right for you, enjoying the full abundance, flavour and satisfaction of good eating in a life that is full of choices.