You can lose a pound a day with no ill-effects.
You will feel fitter, brighter, healthier and more energetic too.
How? By using the biology that hibernating animals use.
Grizzly bears are brilliant at it. Hedgehogs are pretty good and badgers are excellent. They exploit their own clever biology to make the best of winter. Like them, we can use those long, dreary, depressing winter months to make our bodies work better! You’ll come to the spring a couple of stone lighter, feeling great and looking younger – positively blossoming in fact.
It’s for sure. Cast iron guarantee. You can take off a pound a day if you follow this simple lifestyle regime. You don’t need to join a gym or sweat yourself to a standstill. You don’t need to quit eating carbs or never touch butter again.
In fact, all you need to do is work with your own body instead of against it.
If you’ve ever felt you’d just like to bed down in a comfortable burrow for the entire winter, then please read on because in Scotland, we’re absolutely certain we’ve just come up with the ultimate lifestyle regime: The Hibernation Diet (Mike and Stuart McInnes with Maggie Stanfield, Souvenir Press £7.99).
Like so much in life from the blue mould on bread that led Alexander Fleming to discover penicillin to the GI diet’s recognising how foods that take longer to digest are more sustaining and less fattening, The Hibernation Diet is so obvious no one has spotted it.
“The biology has been staring us in the face for ages but nutritionists just haven’t noticed it,” says co-author and pharmacist, Mike McInnes. “They just don’t want the boat rocked and we’ve confronted that comfort zone. We’re encouraging the body to use its built-in fat burning mechanisms. We’re saying optimise your own system because the precision engineering of the human body is magnificent!”
When animals bed down for the winter, they prepare themselves. They get that nice burrow just right and make sure the environment is cosy and comfortable, but before all that housework, they fatten up. They lay up lots of store cupboard goods to live off for the cold season. The difference between them and us is that they store the food on themselves, within their own bodies.
For months, while they breathe nice and slowly and steadily and don’t have any exercise at all, they live off that stored fat. We all learned it at school, but maybe we didn’t think about the message that smart nature has for us.
There’s a whole lot of biochemistry going on of course and we don’t want to bore you or blind you with science. Besides, there’s no need. The main pillars of The Hibernation Diet are simple:
o HONEY: The food of the gods. Right from that old mathematician, Pythagoras, back in 580, we’ve known this was special stuff. Thing about it is that it’s the only food that perfectly combines glucose and fructose molecules in exactly the right way to provide fuel for your brain by fuelling your liver.
With your brain happy and well nourished, the rest of your body can get on with doing all those essential maintenance and repair tasks like rebuilding your skin, bones, hair, nails, muscles, organs, nerves, blood and so on. And what does it use to do all that hard work? Yes, your fat stores! But only so long as your liver and brain are happy. Read on…
o HEALTHY EATING: Yes, we know you’ve heard it before, but deep fried Mars bars and fish and chip pizzas are not the road to good health and a slim stature. Eat what you like but don’t narrow your options and do make sure you get a good balance of essential foods.
o HIBERNATION: We’ve already explained why hibernation matters but there’s another vital component: Sleep. When we sleep, like the animals, we live off our fat stores but only so long as our livers and brains are well fed. Hibernating isn’t the same as sleeping but there are common factors.
That clever bear goes into a special winter mode where he stores up special fuel to keep his brain fed and we humans can be just as smart if we fuel ourselves up at night so as to use our fat stores for energy. None of us is ever more than a few minutes from a coma. Our bodies have a very finely tuned and highly efficient chemistry and if we upset it, we are literally risking our lives.
Our brains are our biggest fuel consumer and it’s the organ that must keep going to keep us alive. We can shut down digestion, warmth, exercise, speech and a host of other non-essential functions, but without brain function, we’re dead in seconds. So making sure we keep our brains fed during sleep is as vital as making sure we get quality sleep in the first place. It’s by fuelling your liver up with honey before bed that you can do this. Only then can we use our own human biology to burn fat stores for our own recovery.
o HORMONES: Complicated things, hormones, but essentially, there are useful ones and dangerous ones. The dangerous ones stress us out, make us panic, sweat, have nightmares and feel wiped out in the morning.
We produce these adrenal hormones when our brains go into a panic about fuel: ‘Feed me!’ yells your brain. ‘No fuel!’ responds your liver because you’ve not eaten anything since tea-time. ‘Get some now!” orders your brain, so you start pumping out adrenal hormones to go and break down your muscles so as to release usable fuel for your liver to feed your brain.
It doesn’t make for relaxing sleep and it means you can’t burn up your fat stores to do all those nice friendly repairing and maintaining things to do with building new skin and bone.
o HEROIC RESISTANCE: You can help the process along with resistance exercise. This means you choose to take up some gentle resistance pushing and pulling. Not pounding the treadmill till you’re red in the face and sweating (which won’t burn more than half an ounce of fat an hour), but gently and repeatedly moving weights which will increase the speed at which you can burn your fat stores at night without producing stress hormones.
It’s not essential, but it will help things along and is well within the do-ability factor of anyone regardless of their overall fitness level. Lifting a can of beans out of the cupboard is a good start. Yoga, Pilates, cycling and floor exercise are all resistance work because they use your own body weight to work your system.
Most of the quack diets we’ve all been so consumed by are based on cutting out certain foods or food groups. The Atkins Diet excludes carbohydrates. The Combination Diet insists on us eating only certain types of food together. Macrobiotic diets cut out entire food types. Even the GI approach involves cutting out certain kinds of food.
We say take it with a pinch of salt! Our bodies need a variety of different kinds of food within a balanced diet. We aren’t advocating a burger and chips a day, but nor are we saying you can never enjoy a takeaway. Instead we’re telling you to work with your own body, not against it. Your body is your best friend and if you treat it kindly, it’ll never let you down. If you abuse it, then it’ll go off in an understandable huff!
So make sure your liver is fuelled up night and morning with a tablespoon of honey, eat sensibly and your body will do the rest for you.
Make the project more successful by building in some resistance work. It will still work without it, but 20 minutes three times a week will double the rate at which you burn fat up overnight. The book provides simple, no-gym exercises or you can use Pilates, Yoga, cycling and swimming as alternatives.
Keep that liver and brain happy with a tablespoon of honey night and morning. You can take it straight from the pot, in a hot drink or built into a smoothie or yoghurt-based drink. The book includes suggestions for these. You should drink two litres of water each day.
There are more menu choices in The Hibernation Diet but these will get you started.
200ml Apple juice
120gm Muesli sweetened with one tablespoon of honey
200ml Semi-skimmed milk
200 ml Tomato juice
200gm Porridge made with 200ml semi-skimmed milk
One Tablespoon of honey
One Poached egg
Two Rashers of lean grilled bacon
One Slice of wholemeal bread, toasted
200gm Mixed fruit salad of apple and orange
One Tablespoon of honey
One Slice of whole meal bread, toasted
One Egg, poached or scrambled
A small handful of nuts/seeds/dried fruit
A piece of (any) fruit
A few wholegrain bread stick snacks
A multigrain bar containing honey
Make your own sandwiches! It’s cheaper and healthier. If you can nap somewhere for 10 minutes, you’ll find it transforms your afternoon.
200ml Fresh orange juice
Two Slices of wholegrain bread with tuna filling and side salad of grilled mushrooms, rocket and cucumber
One Piece of fruit of your choice
200gm Fruit salad of apple and orange segments
120gm Basmati rice with lean ham and salad of tomatoes, kidney beans and raw sliced white cabbage
One Multigrain bar (no added sugar)
200ml Fresh squeezed juice of any variety
Two Slices of wholegrain bread with lean chicken and grilled bacon with a salad of leaves, cucumber, tomatoes and 4 fresh dates
Blue time one: As you finish work
This is the time of day you are probably at your lowest ebb. It’s well worth having a little top-up on the way to the train, as you walk or in the car.
A small packet of dry roasted peanuts
A handful of mixed raw vegetables
Two crispbreads with low-fat cheese or honey
Grated carrot with a small handful of nuts and raisins
Sliced tomatoes with olive oil and black pepper
Sliced up apple with a small piece of low fat cheese
Blue time two: At home
Depending on how long it takes you, and certainly if you’ve an hour or more of a commute, then it’s worth your while repeating the Blue time snack now. You’ll be amazed how much more energy you’ll have. Rather than flopping on the sofa with a drink, you’ll feel brighter, happier and more convivial!
Your evening meal should be rich in vital nutrients and contain lots of fresh fruit/vegetables but it should never leave you feeling heavy and bloated. Be careful about portion size. Most of us eat far more than we need. Get a walk and/or perhaps some resistance exercise a couple of hours after you eat.
200ml Freshly squeezed fruit juice
150gm Organic salmon steak, grilled with a little olive oil and seasoning
150gm Fresh noodles mixed with a chopped fresh red pepper and black olives
Salad As much as you like of mixed fresh salad leaves, tomatoes, celery, cucumber, radishes, spring onions
One Avacado pear filled with 100gm of fresh prawns and low-fat
Caesar dressing sprinkled with basil leaves
One Baked potato filled with mushrooms and onions chopped finely and fast fried in a pan using spray oil
Salad As much as you like made up out of fresh, seasonal salad
ingredients with an olive oil and Balsamic vinegar dressing
200ml Freshly squeezed fruit or vegetable juice
150gm Roast organic lamb loin chops with roasted cherry tomatoes
150gm Couscous mixed with chopped green peppers, broccoli and carrots
One Low-fat yoghurt with 3 chopped apricots added
One or two tablespoons of honey in the hour before you go to bed. You can have this as a hot drink with lemon and cloves, add it to mint or camomile tea, spread it on a slice of toast or a couple of crispbreads or add it to a pot of low-fat plain yoghurt. The book has lots of recipes for alternative drinks.
At night, you will sleep restfully – you should keep your room free of pollutant lights such as LCDs – and your body will be busily burning up your excess fat and carrying out all that essential maintenance and repair.
You won’t be dreaming about being slimmer and fitter. You’ll be doing it. You’re already on the road to working with that magical machinery that is the human body instead of fighting it.
It’s the beauty of our own biology we’ve been ignoring!