This New Year Husband and I set ourselves a challenge. We were going to drop a stone by his Sister's wedding in April. Our strategy: High protein, low carb, low sugar. The complete opposite to our healthy yet high carb pasta and risotto packed menu.
No sooner had we begun this way of eating (I refuse to call it a diet as there is no calorie counting, points, sins or shakes) when Upbeat contacted me and asked if we would like to try their Protein Challenge for a week. Perfect!
We were sent a week's worth of protein rich foods and a recipe booklet containing some yummy breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas - and of course some Upbeat protein rich dairy drinks.
So what is protein and why do we need it?
Protein maintains healthy muscles and bones whilst also keeping your hair looking healthy. Overall it makes us feel at our best.
It is the most filling of foods but our bodies cannot store it the way they can with carbs and fat, so we need to spread it regularly throughout the day.
How much do we need?
The rule of thumb seems to be roughly 1g of protein for every kg you weigh. So if like me you weigh around 70kg you need 70g of protein per day. Husband needs about 100g a day.
Which foods contain protein and how much?
Lots of foods contain protein but here is a handy little chart featuring some of the best:
As you can see the little Upbeat drinks contain about 20g of whey protein which is roughly the same as 3 eggs. Perfect if you need to boost your protein intake at breakfast or you need a little mid afternoon pick me up. The taste reminds me of fruity probiotic drinks.
So far so good. Cut down on carbs and eat protein at every meal. Why else did we need to do. Well we needed to avoid sugary snacks which leave us feeling unfulfilled. This includes all soft drinks, even diet ones, as they trick your body into expecting sugar, and end up causing cravings for junk food! This was hard for Husaband as he is a real fizzy drink addict. Also alcohol was a no no again because of the sugar so we pretty much cut it out but we don't drink a lot so it wasn't an issue.
The big switches for us were swapping starchy white potatoes, which we ate a lot for quick easy meals, like jacket spuds or Spanish omelette, for sweet potatoes. Also losing pasta from our diet! I shed a small year... Swapping rice for couscous and quinoa was probably the easiest adjustment.
But within a few days we were surprised to find we weren't missing the heavy, starchy carbs and actually felt more energised and less tired. Bit of an eye opener as we would never have considered ourselves unhealthy eaters before we cut down our carbs.
The recipes in the Upbeat guide were very easy to make. Breakfasts of yogurt porridge with banana and berries or omelettes were super filling. Light lunches made with quinoa or couscous were satisfying and delicious. Dinners using lean protein like Turkey or fish were scrum my.
The biggest difference for me is eating protein at breakfast. Previously I was a cereal and milk girl and would always want a 10am snack. Now I feel much fuller until lunch. Sometime I forget it is lunchtime and Little E has to remind me! I tend to stick to porridge oats with quinoa and berries or eggs on brown toast. It is easy because the kids eat them too!
Husband has found cutting out sugar an issue but he followed the advice to ignore his cravings during the challenge and now he's out of the habit he doesn't miss it. In fact he hasn't had one headache - proving they were down to sugar peaks and the protein has evened out his energy levels.
So how have we done overall. We continued the challenge well past the week we were set by Upbeat and in 5 weeks we have lost the following weight:
Husband: 1st 7lb
That is a whopping 2 stone between us!
I'm not gonna lie, I was annoyed when Husband started losing weight quicker than me despite us eating the same foods. I was reminded that is because men burn everything faster than women so they are predispositioned to loose weight faster. Plus I lost a stone before Christmas just cutting my portion size down and not eating carbs in the evenings so he began with more excess weight than me, so it was inevitably gonna fall off faster!
I still have a bit of work to do in the next 6 weeks before the wedding to drop the next 7lb but staying focused on the protein challenge should get me there!
Upbeat is available in three flavours. We bought ours from Tesco priced £1 a bottle. You can find out more at feelingupbeat.com