Instead of just taking time off from their weight-loss goals, they decided that they'd enjoy themselves
You can’t argue with these results.
This article was written by The Editors of Prevention.com and provided by our partners at Prevention.
Travel and weight loss aren't exactly known for going hand in hand. So traveling to a place that has some of the most delicious food in the world and losing weight seems basically impossible.
But that wasn't the case for married couple Richard and Suzanne, who already had a seven-day vacation in Italy planned before they decided to follow Your Metabolism Makeover, a clean-eating meal plan from Prevention that boosts your internal calorie-burning furnace and helps you shed the stubborn weight for good.
Instead of just taking time off from their weight-loss goals, they decided that they'd enjoy themselves without letting their trip turn into a week-long pizza and pasta binge. Rather than cutting carbs or counting calories, they planned to stick to whole foods that were fresh or minimally processed, with no chemicals or added sugars.
Over the course of the six-week program, Richard, age 49, lost 21 pounds and 8.75 total inches. His systolic blood pressure (the top number) dropped by 24 points and his diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) dropped by 11 points, bringing both out of the high blood pressure range. Suzanne, 49, lost 4.5 pounds, 4.5 inches, and her daily craving for sugar.
Here's how the couple stayed on track while clean eating their way through Italy:
In the morning, Richard and Suzanne usually stopped at a local grocery store for some fresh fruit. The natural sugars found in real fruit, minimally-processed whole grains, and unsweetened dairy products are absorbed slowly by the body because they come with fiber, protein, and fat. "We never once missed having a big breakfast, and it allowed more time to get out and tour," says Suzanne.
Added sugars show up in many foods—like microwave oatmeal packets, some breads, or breakfast cereals—which lack fiber and protein. That means your body absorbs sugar into your bloodstream much faster. These often come in the form of refined carbohydrates.
Eating these foods for breakfast launches your body on a metabolic roller coaster as blood sugar soars, then crashes when the hormone insulin pulls all that sugar into your cells. When blood sugar plummets (and it will), you feel tired, cranky, and crave a fix from the cookie jar before lunchtime rolls around.
During meal times, Richard and Suzanne did their best to stay away from sweetened drinks on the menus. This decision helped them nix extra calories daily and eliminate added sugars, which can fool your metabolism.
Researchers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health note in a 2011 review in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care that "liquid carbohydrates," like iced tea or a fancy coffee drink, aren't as filling as solid carbs. You feel hungry afterward despite all of the calories you just sipped. Plus, you're more likely to overeat because the calories just didn't register with your brain.
Your best bet: Stick with water when possible. When it comes to filling up faster and steering clear of junky snacks, plain old H2O might be your secret weapon. Research published in the journal Obesity found that dieters who downed 16 ounces of water before each meal for 12 weeks lost three more pounds than those who skipped the extra sips. Having all that liquid in your belly means that you need less food to feel full.
Richard and Suzanne ordered what they wanted—but in a way that made it easy to keep their portions in check.
"We didn't binge on pasta or bread. We tried to balance our meals," she says. Instead of ordering two appetizers and two pasta dishes, Suzanne would get a grilled vegetable dish and Richard would get pasta. Then, they'd split the two plates.
The couple also made trade-offs by skipping the stuff they didn't care about that much, like bread, wine, and cocktails, so they had room for the foods they really loved. Suzanne, who's always loved sweets, did treat herself to delicious gelato made from high-quality ingredients.
After realizing how delicious simple meals made with fresh, quality food could be, Suzanne was inspired to re-create many of the dishes she and Richard enjoyed during their week in Italy.
These days, they're eating tasty foods sparked by their travel memories, like cabbage and bean soup, minestrone soup, and even homemade pasta with fresh sauces. "Now, eating clean just seems like common sense," Richard says..
PREP TIME: 10 minutes / TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes / SERVES: 6
2 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup wild rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces Italian chicken or turkey sausage, thinly sliced
5 cups shredded green cabbage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 rib celery, chopped
8 cups (2 quarts) low-sodium chicken broth
1 can (14.5 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 can (15 ounces) no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
1. COMBINE the water and rice in a microwaveable glass bowl, and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Set aside.
2. HEAT the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage, stirring, until no longer pink, 4 minutes. Add the cabbage, garlic, zucchini, and celery, and cook until just tender, 4 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes (with juice), and chickpeas. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the rice and parsley, reduce the heat to low, and simmer to blend the flavors, 10 minutes.
NUTRITION (per serving): 228 calories, 13 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 4 g sugars, 5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 257 mg sodium