Healthy diet

One of the most important aspects of the alli weight loss programme is diet. It is important to adopt a healthy, low fat, reduced calorie diet as this combined with exercise and the alli capsules will help you to reach your desired target. The reason why many diets fail is that they are seen as a short term solution. Many people try a ‘fad diet’ or even crash dieting to solve their weight problem but find that they soon regain the lost weight.

This is further compounded by the fact that their metabolism has slowed down, often as a result of an extreme diet. This means that they require fewer calories than before to maintain a normal weight and once this is exceeded they then gain weight.

The word ‘diet’often conjures up a mental image of a meal consisting of a piece of dry crispbread and a lettuce leaf but it needn’t be like that. Sensible eating, such as that advocated by alli is about making a few, long term changes to your diet which will help you to maintain a healthy weight.

Healthy eating does not have to be boring. The diet part of alli involves the following:

  • Eating a well balanced diet
  • Understanding about portion sizes
  • Planning your meals in advance
  • Healthy snacks
  • Understanding food labelling.
  • Making a healthy shopping list
  • Choose healthy options when eating out

Eating a well balanced diet

A well balanced diet contains a variety of foods from the main food groups. These groups are: protein, carbohydrates, fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products and sugary, fatty foods. It is important to maintain a reduced calorie, low fat diet whilst using the alli weight loss programme which will ensure that weight is lost slowly and without any ill effects to your health. Avoid any high fat, sugary food in your diet as this will cause side effects. Adopting good habits now will ensure that you maintain this lifestyle once you have stopped using alli.

So what should your diet contain?

Include wholegrain or oat based cereals, bread (preferably wholemeal), potatoes, rice and pasta. Choose wholemeal or wholegrain/brown versions instead of white, e.g. brown rice instead of white rice. These are the most important part of your diet. Ensure that you have one portion of these with every meal.

Include fresh fruit and vegetables –around 5 portions a day and different colours and low fat dairy products such as skimmed milk. Choose good sources of protein such as fish, chicken and lean red meat. Eggs are also a good source as are beans and pulses.

The glycaemic index

The glycaemic index categorises foods as either ‘low GI, medium GI or high GI’.

Wholemeal or wholegrain foods such as the ones mentioned above are classed as ‘low GI’. Low GI or ‘low glycaemic index’ means that these foods cause glucose to be released slowly into the bloodstream. These are often referred to as ‘slow release’ foods.

Whereas a ‘high GI’food causes blood sugar (glucose) to be released quickly into the bloodstream which also causes an increase in insulin levels. The glycaemic index is a scale of foods from all the main food groups and their glycaemic rating (percentage). For example:

  • Foods with a GI rating 55 or less are classed as ‘low GI’
  • Foods with a GI rating 56 to 69 are classed as ‘medium GI’.
  • Foods with a GI rating 70 or more are classed as high GI

Aim for low GI foods as opposed to high GI foods. Low GI foods will prevent you from experiencing ‘sugar spikes’ which are caused by high blood sugar levels. Foods classed as low GI will regulate your blood sugar levels, prevent these fluctuations and ensure that you remain fuller for longer. For example, a bowl of porridge at breakfast is classed as a low GI food. This is due to oats which are high in soluble fibre and cause energy to be released slowly into your bloodstream.

Understanding about portion sizes

It is important to understand about portion sizes as these determine the difference between losing weight or remaining at the same weight. Make sure you have a set of scales and a set of measuring spoons to hand. The alli website ( contains information on portion sizes. Plus the Waitrose website ( includes portion sizes as part of their healthy eating section. They also show how much you should eat from each of the main food groups in the form of an ‘eatwell plate’.

Another equally good source is the series of nutrition guides within the medic8 website. Visit each of these in turn.

Planning your meals in advance

You may find it helpful to plan your meals for the week in advance. This can save time when food shopping and will stop you from buying any forbidden foods.

There are many healthy recipes available which are cheap and easy to make. Plus they taste good as well. They can appeal to all the members of your family so you do not have to make separate meals for you and everyone else. Everyone leads busier lives than before and do not have the time or the inclination to spend inordinate amounts of time in the kitchen. If this sounds all too familiar then find recipes which do not take up too much of your time but are still low in fat and calories as well.

Healthy snacks

We assume that snacking is bad for us but it is possible to have snacks and yet still lose weight. The trick is to choose healthy snacks such as a handful of nuts and seeds, a piece of fruit, a couple of oatcakes or a small pot of low fat yoghurt.

Understanding food labelling

Food labels contain nutritional information such as the total number of calories (often expressed as kcal/kJ), protein, carbohydrates and fat. Many will contain more detailed information such as percentage of saturated fat, sodium (salt), sugar etc.

What you need to look at is the amount of calories, fats, carbohydrates etc per portion and not just the total amount. More importantly, look at the total amount of fat (especially saturated fat), sugar and salt in that food product.

Most food labels will display the amount of fat, salt and sugar per 100g serving and the number of calories as well as those for the total serving.

What you may find helpful is the ‘traffic light’labelling system. This is a form of food labelling which uses traffic light colours to help you decide if this a healthy choice or not. For example:

  • Red traffic light: denotes that the food contains a high level of particular ingredient or nutrient, e.g. saturated fat. Try to minimise your consumption of foods which contain high levels of saturated fat, salt and sugar. Restrict them to a ‘treat’ only.
  • Amber traffic light: denotes a medium level of a nutrient. This is fine although only in moderation.
  • Green traffic light: denotes a low level of a nutrient or ingredients. This is a good choice of food. The more green traffic lights the healthier it is likely to be.

(Source: Food Standards Agency: food labels)

Making a healthy shopping list

Many people already do this before visiting the supermarket, but the difference now is compiling a list with healthy food choices only.

Making a list means that you are more likely to stick with your healthy diet plus it will save you time as well. Include on your list fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, chicken and lean red meat, low fat dairy products, wholegrain bread/cereals and reduced fat dressings. Avoid foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar. These include pies, pastries, biscuits, hard cheeses, mayonnaise/salad cream or other full fat dressings; processed meats such as sausages, butter, cream and ice cream. It may be tempting to add one of these to your shopping trolley as a treat but remember that alli works with a low fat diet only. Look for low fat alternatives instead such as fresh fruit salads and reduced calorie dressings.

Choose healthy options when eating out

It can be difficult to stick to a healthy diet when eating out with family or friends but there are ways of doing so. This means you are still able to enjoy a social occasion without feeling guilty or deviating from your diet. If you know what type of restaurant you are going to then this will enable you to make a decision about what you are going to eat beforehand. For example, if you are visiting a Chinese restaurant then choose stir fry dishes with boiled rice.

Avoid dishes which are battered (e.g. sweet and sour), deep fried or covered in a sugary or salt laden sauce. This is possible even if you are going to a place which serves fast food. Choose meals which are grilled or steamed and without any sauces. Ask for fresh fruit instead of a rich, sticky dessert. It is possible to produce low fat versions of many well known fast foods such as fish and chips or burgers. If you enjoy a takeaway then you can still have this albeit a low fat version.

For example, you can make your own fish and chips by grilling a piece of fish and cooking potato wedges, in olive oil, in the oven. A healthy burger can be made using lean turkey mince, grilled and then wrapped in a lettuce leaf instead of a white bun.

These are just a couple of recipe ideas. There is no magic formula: it is a case of making a few changes such as the ones mentioned in this article which will enable you to lose weight and reach your healthy weight target. This is not a short term solution. You need to make these changes on a permanent basis which means adapting to a new lifestyle. It may seem awkward at first but you will quickly become accustomed to it.

Thermogenic foods

There are certain foods which are termed ‘thermogenics’in that they help to burn off body fat. These foods increase body temperature as well as the metabolism in a process called ‘thermogenesis’. Examples of thermogenic foods include chillis, cayenne pepper, green tea, mustard, cider vinegar, celery, ginger and garlic. Some foods are more thermogenic than others. Do they work? They do help if part of a healthy diet and exercise programme. Exercise is discussed further in the next section.

Alli and vegetarianism

If you are a vegetarian and are thinking of taking alli then be aware that these capsules contain gelatin. Gelatin is a colourless, almost tasteless substance, derived from collagen in animal (usually cattle) skin and bones. This is something to be aware of if you eat kosher food only.

Some people who are vegetarians take alli, even though they know that it contains gelatine and are happy to do so. It is a matter of personal choice.

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