Posted by: jowanderer | May 24, 2008

The Deadline Diet – Part 1

May 16, 2008

The Deadline Diet – Part 1


Times Nutritionist Amanda Ursell and Fitness Expert Matt Roberts have devised a delicious 28-day diet to get you looking fit and trim.


If there’s a big event you want to look your best for this summer, or you’re dreading squeezing into those swimming trunks, why not follow our 28-day Deadline Diet? You can lose pounds while still enjoying real food in a hassle-free way. And you don’t need to worry about counting calories or grammes of fat because we’ve done the hard work for you. Matt Roberts has also created a daily exercise plan to help you burn fat, tone up and get fit.


The first 14 days of the diet appear this week, the following 14 in next Saturday’s Body&Soul (May 24). The meals have been planned to help women to shed 2lb (900g) a week. If you are a man following the plan, you will need to add a few extra slices of bread or slightly increase the size of your servings of pasta or rice with your dinner and have some extra fruit. You can have the same breakfast every day, although to get a good variety of nutrients, and avoid bordeom, mix and match a few of the ideas.

At lunchtime you can make sandwiches (using multigrain or sourdough bread), salads and soups to take with you or simply pick up our suggestions from your local supermarket or sandwich bar (see overleaf). Dinners have been dreamt up to keep your taste buds happy while taking care of your waistline.

If you want to swap some of the lunches and dinners around, or repeat some of your favourite dinners and leave a few out, then feel free. The key is that this plan fits in with your lifestyle because we want you to lose pounds, not your joie de vivre.

In addition to the breakfast, lunch and dinner suggestions, try to have half a pint of skimmed milk a day (or light soya milk fortified with calcium – see drinks box overleaf). You can have this in teas and coffees, as a cappuccino, or trade in half of your milk for a yoghurt if you prefer. Each day try to chose options that include a couple of servings of fruit and at least three good portions of vegetables, to make up your five a day.

Over to you. Tuck in and get active, and watch your body change before your eyes.


Fruit, yoghurt and toasted seeds

Cut up three of your favourite fruits and mix with three tablespoons of plain yoghurt. Sprinkle with some toasted seeds or nuts.

Scrambled eggs

Scramble two eggs with a dash of skimmed milk and seasoning. Serve with a slice of granary toast and a grilled tomato.

Cereal with fruit

Mix together 40g of bran flakes or All Bran with a chopped apple and a sliced banana. Serve with cold, 1 per cent fat or semi-skimmed milk.

Muesli with fresh berries

Tuck in to a 50g bowl of sugar-free muesli served with your favourite fresh berries or mixed with some grated apple. It is tasty with apple juice or stick with milk, if you prefer.

Cappuccino and fruit

Buy a takeaway grande skinny cappuccino (or make your own milky coffee at home with about 250ml of skimmed milk) and have with two pieces of fruit, including a banana.

Bacon sandwich

Enjoy a bacon sandwich using two lean grilled rashers of back bacon with granary bread or toast, with tomato ketchup or reduced-fat butter. Have with a few grilled tomatoes and a small glass of orange juice.

Toast, chocolate and strawberries

Toast two pieces of sourdough or granary bread and spread lightly with chocolate spread (Green & Blacks is good) then top with slices of strawberries.

Grapefruit and cereal

Have a juicy pink grapefruit (peel like an orange and eat in segments or slice in half and eat with a spoon). Follow this with a bowl of Fruit and Fibre-style cereal with cold milk.

Poached eggs on toast

Grill two big mushrooms and a tomato sliced in half. Serve with two poached eggs and slice of sourdough or rye toast.

French toast with fromage frais

Make French toast by whisking an egg with a pinch of cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg. Dip in two slices of granary bread (left out overnight) and fry in a non-stick pan brushed with a little oil for 2-3 minutes each side. Serve with a blob of fromage frais and some slices of peach or pear.

Grilled bananas

Place a peeled banana on a piece of foil, sprinkle with a little vanilla essence, a tablespoon of orange juice and a teaspoon of brown sugar (and some freshly crushed cardamom seeds, if you fancy). Grill for five minutes and serve with a blob of Greek yoghurt or fromage frais.

Fruit compote

Have three tablespoons of dried fruit compote. To make, gently simmer 300g of mixed dried fruit with 200ml of water, some orange zest and juice and a little honey. Top with Greek yoghurt, preferably a lower-fat version.

Porridge and berries

Make up a quick bowl of porridge in the microwave or on the hob with 40g of oats and 200ml of skimmed or semi-skimmed milk. Serve with some mixed berries and a swirl of honey for a spring-like feel to this traditionally winter-ish dish.

Toast and peanut butter

Toast two slices of granary or sourdough bread and spread with crunchy peanut butter. Look for brands that do not add sugar but are just peanuts and some extra salt. Serve with a glass of fruit juice.


Ham sandwich

Make a ham and tomato sandwich with two slices of ham, with mustard to pep it up. Use multigrain or sourdough bread to keep you feeling full for longer.

Baked potato with tuna and sweetcorn

Have a baked potato with tuna and sweetcorn (try to avoid butter). If you are making it at home, remove centre of potato and mash with lemon juice to make potato more moist.


You could have a supermarket tray of sushi, containing nine pieces. Avoid those that have added bits of food fried in batter. Eat the ginger, it will give your metabolism a boost, but go steady on soya sauce, which is very salty.

Chicken roll

Choose a normal-size roll rather than a huge bap and fill with lean, roast chicken and salad of your choice. You can spread the cut surface of the roll with extra-light mayonnaise.

Hoummos and pitta bread

Have a small wholemeal pitta served with half a tub of reduced-fat hoummos along with some vegetable crudités.

Soup and a roll

Buy a hearty filling soup such as lentil or a mixed-bean soup from a sandwich shop and eat with a wholemeal roll.

Pasta salad

Grab a healthy-style pasta salad from the supermarket. Check that the calories are below 400 per serving. Some salads look healthy but are more calorific than a large sandwich packed with mayonnaise.

Roast turkey salad

Have a salad made up for you in your local salad bar. Opt for your favourite salad ingredients such as lettuce, cucumber, beetroot, corn, mushrooms and so on and have a topping of roast turkey. Stick to balsamic vinegar instead of oily dressing.

Prawn salad

Have a prawn salad that you can whip up quickly at home, again using balsamic vinegar.

Tuna tortilla wrap

Buy a packet of tortilla wraps and roll up a wrap filled with a small can of tuna and serve with cherry tomatoes. Use a teaspoon of reduced-fat salad cream or plain yoghurt to moisten.

Gazpacho soup

Buy a carton of gazpacho soup (pictured) from the supermarket and serve cold with a healthy sandwich (300 calories) of your choice.

Baked potato with baked beans

Have a baked potato topped with baked beans. If you are at home, opt for reduced-sugar and reduced-salt versions of the beans. You may like to add a blob of cottage cheese and a side salad.

Egg salad sandwich

Have an egg salad sandwich (with reduced-fat salad cream spread on the bread), with vegetable crudités to give your lunch some crunch.

Poached eggs on toast with tomatoes

If you have a local café to hand, ask for two poached eggs on toast with grilled tomatoes. It will keep you going all afternoon.


Roast salmon

Pre-heat oven to 180C and roast a 100g salmon fillet, brushed with olive oil, seasoned and sprinkled with crushed garlic and fresh rosemary, for ten minutes. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and a few tablespoons of cooked long-grain rice mixed with a teaspoon of butter and chopped spring onion.

Parma ham bruschetta with roasted vegetables

Serve roasted peppers, aubergines and courgettes drizzled with balsamic vinegar with a slice of toasted rye bread (brushed with olive oil and rubbed with garlic) and 100g of sliced Parma ham.

Spaghetti bolognaise

Sauté half a finely chopped onion, a small grated carrot and a little crushed garlic. When soft, add 100g of extra-lean beef mince. Brown and add half glass of white wine. Once evaporated add 80g of Italian passata (sieved tomatoes) and a few tablespoons of water. Season, simmer for 20 minutes and serve with cooked spaghetti (70g dry weight) and a green salad.

Chilli king prawns with mangetout

Sauté a small crushed garlic clove with a chopped spring onion, a handful of mangetout and half a deseeded sliced chilli for about two minutes. Add 100g of de-shelled cooked king prawns and half a tablespoon of sweet sherry. Season and stir-fry for two minutes. Mix in cooked long-grain rice (60g dry weight) and serve immediately.

Grilled mackerel with lime

Brush a 100g fillet of mackerel with oil, add a squeeze of lime and season. Grill for three minutes each side, turning once. Serve with a mixed salad and a few tablespoons of cooked new potatoes.

Lemon sole with pak choi

Put 100g of lemon sole fillet in a shallow, lightly buttered, ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander and add sufficient water to just cover the base. Cover and bake at 180C for 12 minutes. Serve with steamed pak choi drizzled with oyster sauce and boiled rice (60g dry weight).

Fillet steak with rocket leaves

Char-grill a fillet steak (about 150g). Just before serving place a good handful of rocket leaves on top of the steak and drizzle with a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve with cooked new potatoes that have been boiled then sliced and put under a medium grill for two minutes a side.

Chicken with lemon and noodles

Heat 70ml of chicken stock in a wok and add 100g of skinless chicken breast cut into thin strips. Gently poach, adding half a teaspoon of green peppercorns, three fresh sage leaves and a teaspoon of lemon zest. After two minutes, remove chicken and reduce stock. Away from the heat stir in a level tablespoon of low-fat yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Return chicken, simmer for four minutes. Serve with boiled noodles (70g dry weight) topped with chopped fresh coriander.

Linguine carbonara

Sauté half a finely sliced red onion and a rasher of back bacon cut into small pieces in a teaspoon of oil until the bacon is cooked but not crispy. Add a little crushed garlic and set aside. Cook 70g of linguine, drain and mix in with the bacon. Over a low heat break an egg into the pasta and stir quickly (whip away from heat if egg begins to scramble). Once egg is thoroughly mixed, season and serve with a tomato and onion salad with balsamic vinegar.

Scallop and prawn salad

Arrange a mixture of mixed salad leaves on a plate, with some cooked asparagus. Take 150g of fresh scallops (no roe) and uncooked prawns. Dip in a mix of a tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander, a teaspoon of five spices and half a crushed garlic clove. Stir-fry for three minutes in a teaspoon of heated sesame with a chopped spring onion. Serve on top of the salad, with cooked noodles (70g dry weight) on the side.

Roast asparagus with poached eggs

Brush six asparagus spears with olive oil, season lightly and roast for six or seven minutes (200C) until they are cooked, but still have a bite. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, top with two poached eggs, and serve with a slice of toasted sourdough bread.

Trout fillets with green beans

Dust 100g of trout fillet with seasoned flour and fry in a teaspoon of oil for two minutes. Put them on a baking tray, with a squeeze of lemon juice, and bake (180C) with two halved tomatoes for ten minutes. Serve with steamed green beans and boiled new potatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Chicken wings with potato and cucumber salad

Season 100g of skinless chicken wings and brush with oil. Roast for 35-45 minutes (180C). Serve with a salad: mix 150g boiled, sliced new potatoes, diced cucumber, a chopped tomato, four chopped black olives and a finely-chopped, deseeded green chilli. Add a teaspoon of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and garnish with torn mint leaves.

Roast dinner

Serve 120g of roast lean meat (lamb, beef, chicken or turkey) with a large serving of steamed vegetables and two small roast potatoes and gravy.



The first two weeks of a new exercise programme are always a challenge, particularly if you have never exercised regularly before or if it has been a while since you last did. Some people need a structured regimen, others prefer a little more choice, so I have created a workout that satisfies both. However, if you want to get the most out of this plan, try to follow it in the order that I have suggested.


The first part of this 28-day workout is designed to be simple but will get your heart and lungs working at a moderate level. There are also exercises to ensure that all your muscles are as active as possible: this encourages calorie burning and will raise your metabolism, the rate at which your body burns calories.

For simplicity, think of your exertions on a 1-10 scale: 1 is totally at rest; 10 is completely exhausted. When you are doing the cardiovascular workouts – jogging, cycling or power walking – work out at an intensity of 7.

If you are a keen sportsperson and enjoy tennis, squash, netball or football, you can swap the cardiovascular workouts for a game instead. The key point is that on the days that an activity is suggested, whatever sport you do, you raise your heart rate, get out of breath and feel as though you are pushing yourself to a reasonable degree.

You can do all of the exercises in your home or in the park, so there can be no excuses to skip sessions. And they should take only 30 minutes to do. Try to stick to the plan. The more effort that you put in now, the easier it will be during the second half of the 28-day programme.



Power walk, jog or cycle for 30 minutes at a moderate pace. You should feel comfortable throughout.


Use this small circuit to raise your heart rate and tone your arms and stomach muscles. Skipping is a good exercise to raise your heart rate and burn calories.

Skip for 2 minutes.

Press-ups If you are unable to do a full press-up, try a half press-up, resting on your knees. Do 15-20 repetitions (reps).

Sit-ups Keep your shoulders off the floor throughout the sit-ups to maintain the maximum amount of pressure on the stomach muscles. Do 30 reps.

Squats Bend your knees to 90 degrees each time. Do 25 reps.

Repeat all the exercises three or four times.


Power walk, jog or cycle for 30 minutes at a moderate pace. Try to vary your terrain to include some hills, if possible. This will test your heart and help to burn more calories. Or if you are a gym member use the cross-trainer machine. Set it on a varied level programme, such as hill training, to get the same workout effect.


The legs are the largest muscle groups and need to be worked to increase your body’s ability to burn more calories. These exercises also help to tone your legs, inner thighs and bottom.

Step-ups Do 15 reps.

Squats Do 25 reps.

Power lunges Step forward one stride length, bending your knees to 90 degrees. Rise up and repeat the action on the other leg. Do 12 reps on each leg.

Glute raise Get on all fours and extend one leg straight out behind you. Make sure your back is straight. Then raise the extended leg up, heel first, and hold for one second before slowly lowering your leg back down and returning to the starting position. Do 25 reps on each leg.

Repeat the exercises three times.


Power walk, jog or swim for 30 minutes at a moderate pace. Aim to work out at a level of 7.


Tree running. Find a row of trees in your local park and run fast to one tree, slow to the next, and repeat along the entire row of trees. You can build this into a run over 30 minutes. If you are not up to running, power walk instead.


Power walk, jog or cycle slowly for 45 to 60 minutes at a low to moderate pace. This helps to increase your endurance level.

Crunches A similar movement to a sit-up, but as you bring your upper body off the ground bend your legs and bring your knees towards your head. Do 25 reps.

Reverse curl Lie on your back with your arms by your side and legs in the air with a bend at the knee. Tighten your lower abdominals and curl your legs and pelvis towards your ribcage so your hips are raised off the floor and your knees are as close to your chest as possible. Slowly return to the start position. Do 15 reps.

Repeat the exercises three times.


Try to take rests of no more than 30 seconds between each exercise to ensure your heart rate stays raised.

Skip for 2 minutes

Press-ups If you are unable to do a full press-up, do a half press-up, resting on your knees; 15-20 reps.

Sit-ups Keep your shoulders off the floor to maintain maximum pressure on the stomach muscles; 30 reps.

Squats Bend your knees to 90 degrees each time; 25 reps.

Repeat all exercises three or four times.


Test your heart, lungs and legs by doing hill training as part of your walk. Hill walking is great for the inner thighs and bottom. Find a hill and as you walk up it try to stay tall, as leaning forwards can strain your back and lessen the toning effect on your bottom. If there’s no hill near you, walk up the stairs instead. Or use a treadmill in your gym and set it to the hill-climbing programme. Walk fast up a hill for 30 to 60 seconds, walk down to recover.

Repeat for a total of 30 minutes

DAY 10

Cycle for 20 minutes at a fast pace. Keep your legs spinning at a high speed to work your heart and lungs but not build muscle in your thighs. Using the higher gears on your bike can encourage the legs to build muscle, but by using the lower gears or changing the resistance level on a gym bike you can retain high revolutions per minute, creating good leg conditioning and encouraging fat reduction. Alternatively, skip for two or three minutes, take a minute’s rest and repeat six times.

Press-ups As before. Do 15 reps

Lateral raises Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees and elbows slightly bent. Holding a weight in each hand, with palms facing inwards – this could be a full water bottle or a dumbbell – slowly raise both arms outwards until your hands are as high as your shoulders. Hold for a second and then lower to the start position. Do 15 reps.

Shoulder press Stand with your feet hip-width apart, tighten your tummy muscles but keep your chest relaxed and knees slightly bent. If you’re feeling strong, hold a weight in each hand next to your collarbone. Then push your arms above your head. Lower to starting position; 15 reps.

DAY 11

Jog or swim for 30 minutes. If you are jogging, sprint for a minute and then jog for 90 seconds. Or if you are in the pool do 2 lengths fast, 2 lengths slow, and repeat for 30 minutes. Or use a cross-trainer or treadmill in the gym to create the same pattern, doing high-intensity work for 60 seconds, then recovering for 90 seconds and repeating. This interval training technique means that your body will burn calories at a faster rate for several hours after you finish your workout. If you are not up to jogging, power walk for 30 minutes.

DAY 12

Skip for 3 minutes.

Sit-ups Do 30 reps.

Press-ups Do 15 reps.

Skip for 3 minutes.

Reverse curl See Day 7 for technique. Do 15 reps.

Squats Do 20 reps.

Repeat this routine 2 to 3 times, or why not go for a run and build this routine into your run and substitute the skipping with running instead. Exercise for 30 minutes.

DAY 13

Go for an hour-long cycle ride or walk at a low to moderate pace.

DAY 14

Working your abdominal muscles is a good way of toning your tummy muscles and improving strength and stability in your core areas. Good abdominal strength will help the other areas of your body to work more efficiently in all other exercises and sports.

Sit-ups Do 30 reps.

Crunches See Day 7 for technique. Do 30 reps.

Oblique bridge Lie on your side and raise your body off the floor using your arm and your feet to support you; you may find it difficult to balance but as you grow stronger you will gradually find that it becomes easier. Your body should be straight with your back, hips and legs in a straight line. Try to hold for 40 seconds each side.

Repeat the exercises 3 times.



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