THE CHEF’S DIET CHALLENGE
Tarek Ibrahim is a master chef who shows TV viewers how to cook on 100 Lahma. He’s on a mission to lose weight by scaling back on indulgences, but still enjoying good food...
My weight loss of 2kg in the first week of my diet really was the kickstart I needed. Motivated, I planned the entire menu for the second week in advance.
On Sunday I’d start with a poached egg on wholewheat toast or a bowl of wholegrain cereal with skimmed milk. “No more skipping breakfasts or eating Nutella from the jar with a spoon!” I thought, moving on to plan lunch.
I decided on a fresh tuna salad, lots of greenery and to go easy on the dressing… scratch that; no dressing! For dinner? I plumped for an early evening meal of grilled lamb or beef with roasted root veggies. Highprotein, low-carb and low-GI foods are firmly on the menu.
I soon found I was licking my lips but I still had five more days to plan. Luckily snacks are allowed on the LiveWell diet I’ve created for myself – fruit of course, my favourites being apples and watermelon.
Last week I learnt portion control is just as important as what I’m eating. So I tried to visualise my plate having a quarter of protein, quarter of grains or pulses and the other half of the plate being filled with green leafy vegetables or salad.
But there was one thing missing from my plan and it wasn’t anything to do with food. If I really wanted to change my lifestyle I had to exercise.
When I was in my late teens I was a member of the Egyptian International Handball Team, playing competitive matches at the highest level across Europe and the Middle East. I loved to swim and play squash and go to the gym. Now I couldn’t tie the laces on my trainers, let alone run anywhere in them. It was time to call in Martin Foster, a personal trainer at Fitness and Food in Dubai.
The next morning I swapped my chef’s jacket for my gym kit and went to meet Martin, who has over 20 years’ experience in the fitness industry. He carried out a BioAge test, which involved a series of metabolic tests to measure levels such as blood pressure and cholesterol.
My cholesterol was high – 254 whereas it should be around 150. I was also shocked to find out my Body Mass Index is 31.17, putting me in Obesity Class 1 (a healthy level is 18-25) and my waist is a hefty 111cm. Those 2kg I had lost the previous week seemed far less significant.
We then moved straight on to the physical tests. Considering my unfit state, I was pleased that I managed 16 push-ups. “You should really be doing 26,” Martin said, leaving me deflated again. I did some squats in three
I was pleased I managed 16 push-ups. But Martin left me deflated, saying, ‘You should be doing 26’
sets of 10 repetitions and finally, still puffing, I filled out a lifestyle questionnaire. This explores your levels of stress and your nutrition in general. My answers were entered into a specially designed program that calculates your BioAge as opposed to the biological age of your body. So it’s the age you really are thanks to the lifestyle you live.
I t would take a few days to get the results. In the meantime I had my diet plan to stick to and the training programme Martin created for me.
He decided I need to do 10 pushups, three sets of 10 squats and walk a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. “Totally doable,” Martin said.
And he was right. I stuck to my healthy eating plan (OK, I confess, I cheated with a square of dark chocolate once) and made an effort to walk more – even parking further away from my office.
By the end of the week my results were through. My BioAge was determined as 67½ years old – more than 13 years older than my real age of 54!
Seeing it in black and white was a real shock. Then a fleeting feeling of shame set in. “How could I have let this happen?” I asked myself. But it was a wake-up call and I had another target now. I need to bring my BioAge back in line with my real age and then aim to make it even younger. And my cholesterol needs to come down fast.
But it wasn’t all bad news. By Saturday I’d lost another 2kg in my second week! To celebrate I promptly marched into Fitness First and signed up for a year’s membership.
My body may feel 67 right now, but I’m set on trading myself in for a younger, fitter model.
Martin gave me several tests to determine my BioAge