Monday, October 26, 2009

Simple Eating Plan to Help You Lose Weight

Due to requests from many friends, I have decided to post up a healthy food plan for everyone to follow. Lot of people tell me that the exercises I prescribe are exellent, but it would be much better if I tied it up with a great eating plan as well. People want to know what they should eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner in order to see weight loss without having to starve themselves. So due to popular request, here is a simple eating plan for all. This plan is designed to help you lose weight. If you want to gain weight, then that is a whole different story… maybe I will cover that some time later. But here it is.

Before getting into the basics of the eating plan, just want to lay down a few ground rules.

1) Stick to the 3 meals prescribed below and only eat that. Don’t stray from it and munch anything in between. Yes, I am aware that dieticians are screaming for people to eat 6 small meals instead of 3 big meals. But I noticed, most people tend to overeat (meaning 6 big portions) when allowed to eat 6 times a day. So first master 3 meals a day, and then we will progress to the 6 meal plan later.
2) With that being said, it doesn’t pay to skip meals either. Stick to your 3 meals no matter what.
3) Keep your sweet drinks to a minimum. Biggest problem I notice among most Malaysians – “I don’t eat rice, I don’t eat roti canai… how come still fat?” Then I find out 1 cup of coffee in the morning, 1 cup of Milo during meeting, 1 cup of teh ais during lunch, 1 teh tarik in the evening, 1 sirap bandung for dinner. If you add up all the calories there, it's nearly 1000 Kcal. Not saying no sweet drinks, just try to keep it to 2 if you can.
4) Snacking – This is one of the biggest culprits for people gaining weight. Whatever you do, please do not snack between meals. The worst thing to snack on is potato chips and sorts, which does not fill you up but super high in calories. If you must snack, snack on healthy things like fruits, whole meal crackers etc.
5) If you must indulge in anything that isn't healthy, do it right after your workout. This way you get to minimize the damage to your waist line.
6) Never binge eat. Some people who go for lunch or dinner late, tend to binge eat because they are extra hungry. Stay focused on how much you would normally eat and stick to it. Never over eat.
7) Progressively try to reduce your food intake as you move along. A good benchmark is to cut down every month. Cut down your food quantity by about 5% to 10% every month until you finally reach your goal. So cut it down, maintain that new portion size for one month and the cut it down again.

OK now that I got the ground rules out of the way, here is what you should be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The size of the portion will depend on you. So start off by eating the quantity you would normally eat, and then try to reduce it slowly every month.

1) Sandwich using whole meal bread. Load up on the vege’s that go on sandwiches such as tomatoes, onions and salad. Cut back on condiments especially margarine & mayonaise and avoid fried fillings and of course, stay away from cheese if you can. Examples of good sandwich fillings – ham, tuna, egg, de-boned tandoori chicken (left over from dinner the previous day)
2) Cereal – The more grains it has, the better. One of the worst cereal to eat is corn flakes and those other kid cereals like Koko Crunch, Fruit Loops and Honey Star.
3) Half boiled eggs – just add a dash of kicap and pepper for taste.

1) Mixed rice – whether it is Malay, Chinese or Indian mixed rice, your rice portion should only be as big as your clenched fist. Load up on vege as much as you can. Avoid deep fried dishes
2) Chapati with curry of your choice
3) Subway Sandwich
4) Roasted meats – Eg, Ayamas Roaster, Kenny Rogers
5) Thosai (some places have thosai telur and thosai sardin. These are fine too)
6) Grilled Fish / Chicken or Steaks
7) Chicken Rice – The trick here is to eat less of the rice and more of the chicken. Remember, the rice portion should be the size of your clenched fist.
8) Simple rule – Avoid all goreng-goreng foods. From poori to fried chicken to fried rice to french fires. If it’s fried, you should avoid it.

1) Salad – you can either make your own, or if you go out, order a salad for dinner. If you are eating out, always always get them to serve the dressing separately.
2) Fruits – Cut up some of you favourite fruits and fill up on these healthy food. Avoid Durian and watermelons. You can even make a fruit rojak if you like. Just buy the sauce, but use it sparingly.
3) Thosai
4) Tandoori Chicken
5) Sandwiches – same as the breakfast menu
6) Home Made Pasta – I will feature a recipe for you to try soon
7) Home Made burgers
8) Home made Roast meat
9) Taufu Bakar

The foods above are just a guide on what kinds of food you should be eating. Feel free to mix and match. If you can avoid all variety of fried foods and food heavy on simple carbohydrates you will be about 70% safe already, which is a lot already. Pair this up with a good work out routine, and you will be able to see the fat just melt away. Try it out and see. Of course there are loads of other healthy options out there, so please share if you think of any. Look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions for other healthy eating options.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Trip to Sabah 2

Being enchanted with our first trip to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah earlier this year, when my sister and brother in law recommended a family trip to Sabah, I was all for it. This time it wasn’t just me and wifey. It was me, wifey, my mom, sister & her husband, her husband’s mom and of course my 2 nieces. Never been on a holiday with so many people, so the change was refreshing and of course, I enjoyed my time with my nieces as well.

We stayed at Le Meridien in KK, which is a newer hotel… hence needless to stay, it was still in mint condition and it really was worth every ringgit we paid. I know this hotel is a bit pricey and when my sister first recommended it, I wasn’t sure if I could comfortably manage it. But then I managed to get a discounted rate from the hotel’s website itself – pay for 2 nights, and the 3rd night is free. The room per night is RM 375 per night, but with the offer, I paid RM 750 for 3 nights… quite a bargain if you ask me. Forgot to take some pictures of the lobby, but I did manage to snap some pics of the room. The one thing I absolutely loved about the room and wished more hotels would follow – a DVD player in the room. So you are not solely stuck to ASTRO’s sucky collection of movies which are repeated 700 times a day. We actually went down to a shopping complex to buy some DVDs so that we can watch them at night.

The waterfront bar and restaurants were just a stone’s throw away from our hotel… so that was really great. Only thing I missed was a 7-11. If it had that, it would have made it perfect. So most nights we had dinner at the water front restaurants and some drinks after, all at the water front. It was really cool.

The main reason we chose KK was because my brother-in-law wanted to participate in 10km run which was taking place in KK. I spent most of my time swimming, watching TV and just lazing around. We did do an island hop on our second last day and we visited Pulau Manukan and Mamutik. We only went to 2 this time, as we were going with my nieces and we didn’t want it to be too taxing. Turns out, my nieces are absolute water bums just like me. Won’t talk much about the water in the islands, as I mentioned in my earlier posting it was crystal clear and probably cleaner than your tap water.
One of the other activities which we did want to do was visit the Orang Utan sanctuary, but the Taxi ride was RM 80 one way and the admission was RM 65 per person… pretty steep if you ask me. So we skipped that activity totally. Oh which reminds me. Another one thing I don’t like about KK is the taxi service. It’s a flat rate of RM 10 anyway in the city area, RM 30 to the airport and RM 80 for anywhere beyond that distance. Its really pricey and I think our tourism ministry or transportation ministry should look into this. Sabah is a great place to visit but the one thing that will drive tourists away… is this.

If anyone is planning a trip to KK anytime soon, let me know. Will save you a lot of time of researching where to go and what to do. But I highly recommend this holiday destination to anyone who loves the sea. Look forward to hearing your comments on this.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Salsa Dip - A Healthy Snack

My office had a pot luck lunch yesterday and we all made different dishes to bring in. I made what I like to call Nacho El Grande (a pile of Nacho chips covered in Salsa sauce, chicken and cheese and baked till the cheese melts). Everyone in the office loved it. OK not the healthiest thing in the world to be eating, but every once in while, its OK.

What I want to share with everyone is my recipe for Salsa – main reason being that is actually an extremely healthy dip for chips. Its almost all vegetables… hence its even good for you. Surprising no one promotes this as a health food item. The Nacho chips itself may be high in calorie but you can switch it to healthy alternatives like Papadam which also goes great with the Salsa. You can microwave the papadam (about 30 to 40 seconds on high) till it becomes crispy. It will be very dry, but it will be healthier than deep frying it. Another healthy option is to use tortilla bread and just toast them in your convection owen till it becomes hard. Then just break it up and you have tortilla chips. The Nacho chips you buy in the packet has 500 calories per 100g and 29 g of fat per 100g as well… so not the best of options if you want to go healthy. Safer to go with the suggestions above.

If you are going to use a dip, this is the healthiest dip out there and it tastes great. You can also use this salsa for your cooking to add that Mexican zing to any dish. So the possibilities are endless.

So here’s how you make it.

Salsa Ingredients:
1. Red Onion
2. Capsicum (green)
3. Garlic
4. Tomato
5. Tomato Puree
6. Tomato Ketchup (little bit)
7. Jalapeno
8. Chilli powder / chili flakes
9. Salt
10. White Pepper
11. Lime

Finely chop up items 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7. For item 7, you only need the the Jalapeno slices. Use a fork to dig it out of the jar so you don’t take any vinegar. You don’t need the vinegar for this. The portions should be 1 portion Jalapeno and garlic, 2 portions of Onion & capsicum and 4 portions of tomatoes. Do note blend these items as it will taste different. I was lazy once and tried blending it and it tasted horrid.
Put all this chopped items in a bowl. Pour a little bit of ketchup and double the amount of tomato puree. So if you put in one table spoon of ketchup, add in 2 table spoons of tomato puree. Mix everything up till it’s evenly mixed. Add in some salt and pepper to taste as well as some chilli powder to give it a little bite.
Give it a quick taste. You should be able to taste the combination of all the chopped ingredients. If any of the ingredients taste overpowering, throw in little more chopped tomatoes to dull it. If you feel you would like a certain taste to be more prominent, throw in more of those ingredients.
Finally, squeeze in a bit of lime juice at the end for that tang which just makes it taste like salsa. I normally only use about half a lime or less, so don’t go overboard or all you will tastes is lime.

So there you have it. It’s really simple, tastes great and sure beats the heck of buying imported salsa which costs about RM 10 or more for one small bottle. Kimball or Maggi has salsa which is cheaper, but that is just sweet and does not taste like authentic salsa.

Give this recipe a try and see. If anyone has any other secret salsa recipes or other suggestions of what you can replace the chips with, please do share. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Simple Diet Plan Anyone Can Follow

Me and a colleague started out this simple diet plan about 3 weeks ago. It may sound extreme to some, but honestly, I thought it was OK and we have both been doing it religiously and the results speak for themselves. OK not to worry, I am not going to share the cabbage soup diet here, coz I personally think that is crap. You'd be better of doing the tree diet (I will share this diet with all of you some other time)

So here is what we did.

For breakfast (Mon – Fri) we only eat sandwiches. You can choose… be it an egg sandwich or tuna sandwich or peanut butter sandwich…. Its up to you. Just bear in mind that you need to stay away from Mayo, jam and cheese. Besides that, I think anything you normally put on a sandwich is good stuff.

Lunch – Here is where many may feel is a bit extreme, but again, I beg to differ. Since our office is in Brickfields and we have an abundant amount of Indian restaurants, we decided to try this. Eat chapatti and Taufu sambal for lunch…. Everyday. With the chappati, you will normally get a free curry which is a vegetarian curry. My favourite is this dhal curry they make… high in protein, fat free and tastes good. Other days its vegetarian kurma, potato curry, cauliflower curry. Good thing is, the curry varies everyday… only the taufu sambal is a constant with both of us. Due to my rigorous lifting routine, I do my best to pack in as much protein as I can. So I eat 2 chappati’s and 2 plates of taufu sambal along with whatever vegetarian curry they serve for that day. If it's potato, I do my best not to eat too much potato… since its unwanted carbs. If its vege, well I just eat as much as I want.

Dinner – I try to stay sensibly healthy with this but not overly healthy. Usually it’s a tortilla wrap kind thing, roast meat sandwich, home made burgers, pasta or on lazy days – Chicken Cornish from Secret Recipe. No pizza or fast food. That’s the only rule I have. Besides that, just about anything goes. If its going to be very unhealthy, then i try to keep the portions small.

Now since we started this diet 3 weeks ago, I have lost 4kg. I just weighed myself this morning in the gym. My abdominals looks a lot trimmer now and even my arms and chest have more definition…. All in all, it’s great. Is the diet boring? Honestly I don’t feel that way and neither does my colleague. The vegetarian curry in the restaurant (which varies everyday) is really nice so we really look forward to it. Of course if I did continue this for another 2 or 3 months, I probably would get sick of it, but hey, if I can keep it up for that long, I figure that’s pretty good already. Down side is, I feel like my strength in the gym has gone down a little – maybe by about 10%. I can lift the same weights, but just not the same number of reps as i used to. So if you are a weightlifter, this diet will take a small toll on your strength. If you just want to lose weight, then it will work miracles. In short, i guess i need to balance this diet out with some meat occasionally so i keep the additional fat off, while maintaining my strength.

Weekends – as mentioned before, I am not a big eater over the weekends… so I am safe there. Usually have a tiny breakfast, small lunch and if I do indulge, its only for dinner… but even then, its not all the time and only happens if I meet friends in TGIF or something. Otherwise, dinner is also kept pretty small. If you are one who likes to eat a lot during the weekend, you might want to watch that to ensure you see results as well. Cut down slowly and cut down where you can.

Why did we choose taufu? Simple, it’s a good source of protein, its cheap and fat free. Chicken and other animal based protein does contain some amount of fat, hence why we chose taufu. Chappati, because its made out of whole wheat flour which is complex carbs.

What’s next? Surprisingly our silly stunt has drawn some attention, and now more and more people want to follow us for lunch to try it out. Now we have about 4 people who follow us daily for lunch. Who would have guessed. I eat 2 chapattis and 2 plates of taufu because of my workout routine…of course you may vary this depending on your own nutritional needs. If you are a small eater, reduce it. If you are into gaining size, increase it.

So the plan is simple… healthy breakfast, healthy lunch and a reasonably healthy dinner 5 times a week and try your best to keep your weekend food intake to a moderate level… and your clothes will start feeling a lot looser and you will love checking yourself out more often in the mirror. Try it out and see. As usual, I look forward to hearing your comments and any other suggestions you may have.