The Honey Diet
Extracted from THE HONEY DIET by Mike McInnes, published by Hodder & Stoughton in January 2014, priced at £13.99.
© Mike McInnes 2014.
What if someone told you that you could drop a dress size simply by eating a spoonful of honey before bed each night? It sounds too good to be true, but it’s the keystone of a revolutionary, scientifically backed way to lose weight.
The Honey Diet harnesses the powers of honey to trigger metabolic changes that ensure you won’t succumb to sugar cravings, and you’ll even burn fat while you sleep. There’s no calorie counting, no diet foods, no starvation plan – and you can lose up to 3lbs a week.
The programme is the result of a lifetime’s research by nutritionist Mike McInnes, who discovered that honey’s unique combination of natural sugars make it a near-perfect weight-loss food. You can enjoy delicious family meals, snacks and treats usually banned on diets – including puddings, bread, muffins, and biscuits – as long as they’re made with honey rather than sugar.
By substituting sugar for honey throughout the day, and taking a spoonful of honey before going to bed, the mechanisms in the brain that spark sugar cravings can be shut down.
Mike McInnes says that a night-time honey drink is also enough to reduce nocturnal stress, allowing you to sleep better, so the body can get on with the process of recovery and repair – burning fat as it does so.
Combined with some simple rules, you can eat well and watch excess weight effortlessly fall away, without cravings.
Replace sugar with honey
Cut out sugar and artificial sweeteners, including ‘stealth’ sugar that manufacturers add to sweet and savoury foods (even ones you wouldn’t expect, such as pizzas and pasta sauces).
Instead, start your day with one or two teaspoons of honey in a cup of hot water. Then use honey in place of sugar in tea or coffee, on cereal, and in cooking throughout the day. Honey is roughly twice as sweet as sugar, so you’ll only need half as much.
If you need a sweet snack, spread honey on wholemeal toast or cracker, or add a teaspoon to some natural yoghurt.
Central to this plan is ending the day with a honey drink (one or two tablespoons of honey in hot water) taken 30 minutes before going to bed, which is exactly what the body needs to allow it to function at its optimal level while you sleep.
No more junk food
Honey can only help you slim if you avoid the empty calories that artificial and processed foods provide, and commit to feeding your body the highest-octane fuel you can.
So, besides steering clear of sugary snacks such as cakes and biscuits, you also need to cut out crisps, diet fizzy drinks, fried foods, processed foods, takeaways and pastries.
Choose unrefined carbs (but not too many)
Highly refined white flour (found in white pasta and rice) contains very few nutrients and is swiftly absorbed by the body. This causes blood sugar spikes and a rush of fat-storing insulin. Whereas wholemeal bread, pasta and brown rice are fibre-rich, so they’re good for your digestion, take longer for your body to process, and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
The next step is to ensure that wholegrain carbohydrates make up less than a quarter of your meal. Protein and vegetables should become the new-found heroes on your plate – so keep overall carbohydrate levels down by keeping servings no bigger than fist-sized. Fill up on starchy vegetables like sweet potato, butternut squash, parsnips and carrots.
Try using beans (aduki beans, cannellini beans, butter beans or kidney beans) or lentils to bulk out a meal instead of potatoes or bread, and as a healthier source of protein in place of meat or eggs.
Zero carbs for one day a week
Start your week with one day of no bread, pasta, flour, potatoes, rice and cereal, and you’ll reduce your insulin levels dramatically. This means you’re less likely to store fat, and studies are now pointing at insulin as the cause of diabetes, heart disease, and many cancers.
Cutting out carbohydrates just one day each week should be enough to reset your glial cells if they’ve become accustomed to being suppressed and, studies show, should ensure your insulin levels stay lower for the rest of the week – as long as you stick to the other Honey Diet rules.
Ditch the potatoes
One swift route to weight loss is a complete ban on potatoes. Whether it’s crisps or chips, mashed or baked, potatoes burn quickly in the body’s furnace and are notorious for sending insulin levels soaring.
Psychologists have found a blanket rule like this is easier to adhere to than a more vague ruling such as no chips, crisps or roast potatoes, and mashed or boiled ones in moderation.
Protein in every meal
Ensuring you have some protein in every meal will keep you feeling fuller for longer and prevent blood sugar spikes, which further protects you from cravings.
Research shows our body will keep telling us we’re hungry until we’ve eaten enough protein – and helps maintain muscle strength. Opt for lean protein to keep calorie intake down, and choose from fish (not breaded or battered), chicken (no skin), pork (fat trimmed), beef (steak or 5 per cent fat mince) or eggs.
Don’t forget vegetable sources of protein such as hummus, peanut butter, lentils, beans and pulses.
Eat unlimited salads and vegetables
Don’t hold back on the number and variety of vegetables and salads in your diet. Vegetables are high in fibre as well as vitamins, so aim for six to nine portions a day if you can.
Two pieces of fruit per day
Fruit is packed with antioxidants, but it can also be high in sugars, so choose low-carbohydrate fruit such as berries or rhubarb. These are relatively high in fibre and nutrients in relation to sugars, so they’re less likely to cause blood sugar spikes.
Fruit is always better eaten whole, rather than drunk as juice or blended into a smoothie, as the fibre in whole fruit forms a protective layer that acts as a barrier to the intestine, slowing the absorption of the natural sugars.
Choose full-fat dairy products
Stripping the fat out of dairy products usually means adding gelling agents, bulking agents, sweeteners or sugars.
Studies have shown that full-fat yoghurt is more satisfying than reduced-fat (it keeps you feeling fuller for longer) and the best you could choose is natural bio-yoghurt – delicious with a little added honey.
Dairy products are an important source of calcium, but don’t go crazy, or the calories will start to add up. This means no more than one small pot of yoghurt or cottage cheese, one matchbox-size piece of cheese, and up to 500ml milk per day.
Honey facts that you might not know
- Honey provides brilliant energy for exercise. Replenish your fuel reserves during your exercise session with one to two tablespoons of honey dissolved in water, and sip during your workout.
- There’s no need to pay Manuka honey prices. Just buy it from a retailer you trust (cheap honey can be adulterated with sugar syrup) and take your pick from hard, honeycombed or runny.
- Honey isn’t just for baking – use it as a salad dressing, with olive oil and vinegar, or melt it into cream cheese to make a tasty sauce.
- Don’t have more than four tablespoons of honey a day. The calorie intake (64 calories per tablespoon) may outweigh the slimming benefits.
- Honey is the perfect hangover remedy: take one tablespoon in water before you go out, one before bed, and two to three teaspoons first thing in the morning – either in water, on wholemeal toast, in yoghurt, or neat on a spoon.
Extracted from THE HONEY DIET by Mike McInnes, published by Hodder & Stoughton in January 2014, priced at £13.99. © Mike McInnes 2014.