You've seen the promise before — "Eat all your favorite foods and lose weight." The skeptic in you thinks, Are you kidding me? Eating all my favorite foods is how I gained weight in the first place. But this time, it's for real. This plan features famous favorites, as well as swaps in case you prefer other indulgences.
There's a scientific reason for following a weight-loss program that doesn't involve wholesale deprivation. Dieters who restrict themselves too much—give up all or most of an entire food category, like fat or carbs — for even just three days get an irresistible yearning for the food they're not allowed to have.
That's what prominent obesity researcher Janet Polivy, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the University of Toronto have found. Even anticipated deprivation — you know you're about to start a diet — can trigger the mother of all eating binges in the days beforehand. This phenomenon is so common, researchers have coined a name for it: the "Last Supper effect."
It's all about survival. "You can't stop eating. It's like holding your breath indefinitely underwater," says Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of "The Dr. Oz Show" and a cardiac surgeon at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia in New York City. "So your body has a very concrete set of systems that reinforce the need for you to eat."
How do you make this plan work for you? Dr. Oz answered questions from Good Housekeeping fans. Watch a video of the complete interview.
Q: I'm thrilled with the idea of eating what I love, but I'm afraid I'll go wild. How can I make sure I don't overeat?
Dr. Oz: Here's what I do. I go crazy over chocolate-covered nuts. I just love the combination — the way they taste in my mouth, the texture, the smell. It's fantastic. So I take one handful, never more than that, and then I drink a big glass of water. You'll see. The water will wash out the taste from your mouth. The taste buds have already been satisfied, and the craving will stop. Then just step away from the table.
Q: My life is super busy right now — work, family, parents who need help. I can only exercise an hour a week. What should I do to get the most out of it?
Dr. Oz: If you only have an hour, I'd make sure you include some weight-bearing exercise to build muscle mass. You can do that in an hour a week, and in between workouts, you'll burn more calories. That's why people who have a little bit more muscle mass can keep their weight low. Also, do some walking and balance work (start by standing on one leg and raising the other just a few inches, then — once you're stronger — try yoga). You'll be able to do these for the rest of your life, and you'll enjoy them.
Q: How can I buy nutritious food on a very limited budget?
Dr. Oz: Your question is so important. Many folks are trying to figure out, "How can I buy the organic strawberries in January?" First off, you don't have to have organic strawberries in January. Eat foods that are seasonal — they'll be much more affordable. But I do want people to have high-quality food all year round, so I tell them to buy frozen. It's one of the best deals out there. Frozen produce is usually packed immediately after harvesting, which means that it's got all the rich nutrients. Also, you don't have the problem of the food going bad if you don't eat it right away — which wastes your money.
Check out these healthy recipes from Dr. Oz:
(Cooking time: Active time 20 minutes, total time 45 minutes)
Makes one dozen muffins
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup cranberries
1/4 cup agave syrup
1.5 cups white whole wheat flour
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick baking spray.
2. In food processor or blender, pulse oats until finely ground. Transfer to large bowl. In same processor, pulse cranberries and 1 tablespoon agave syrup until chopped.
3. Into the bowl with oats, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk almond milk, oil, egg, lemon peel, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of agave syrup until well blended. Add the almond-milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just mixed. Fold in cranberry mixture.
4. Divide the batter among muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack, which takes about five minutes, then remove from pan.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days or frozen for up to 1 month. Reheat in toaster oven or microwave.
Each muffin has about 150 calories, 4 grams of protein, 22 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams of total fat, 2 grams of fiber, 16 milligrams of cholesterol and 190 milligrams of sodium.
(Cooking time: Active time 20 minutes, total time 30 minutes)
Makes four main-dish servings
12 oz. whole wheat– or Jerusalem artichoke–flour spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, about 6 to 8 oz., finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes
12 oz. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-in. pieces
1 med. zucchini, cut into half-moons
1/4 cup water
1 can of about 14 oz. of no-salt-added garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1 medium carrot, grated
1/4 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
1. Heat 6-quart saucepot of water to boiling on high. Cook pasta as label directs.
2. Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, heat oil on medium. Add onion and garlic and cook two to three minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Add grape tomatoes and cook five more minutes or until its beginning to soften. Add asparagus, zucchini, water, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook five to seven minutes or until tomatoes begin to burst. Stir in beans and carrot; cook two to three minutes or until the beans are heated through.
3. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and then return to saucepot and add vegetable mixture, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, reserved cooking water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Then toss until combined. Divide among serving bowls and garnish with basil.
Each serving has about 495 calories, 22 grams of protein, 95 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of total fat, 18 grams of fiber, 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 375 milligrams of sodium.
Pepper-crusted steak with roasted veggies
(Cooking time: Active time 20 minutes, total time 35 minutes)
Makes four main-dish servings
1 large sweet potato, about 1 pound
1 pound of broccoli florets
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
4, 1-inch-thick beef filet mignon steaks, about 4 oz. each
1 large red onion, 8 to 10 oz., finely chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Peel sweet potato and cut into 3-inch by 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch batons. On an 18-by-12 inch jelly-roll pan, toss sweet potato and broccoli florets with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 25 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.
3. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet, heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil on medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with 1/2 teaspoon salt, then press on 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper. Add to skillet and cook eight to 10 minutes at 140 degrees Fahrenheit to get medium-rare beef, turning occasionally. Transfer to a plate.
4. Add onion and wine to the same skillet. Heat to boiling, then cook four to six minutes or until onion has softened, stirring and scraping up browned bits from pan. Stir in thyme. Serve with steaks, sweet potato, and broccoli.
Each serving has about 355 calories, 31 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrate, 14 grams total fat, 7 grams fiber, 74 milligrams cholesterol and 345 milligrams sodium.