The Cobra Effect

Without a doubt, the most critical factor in determining if any diet works or not is if you stick to it. You’ve heard it from many successful person; the key is consistency!

I wanted to mention that at the start, because no matter which of the following advice you choose to adopt, you’ve got to be able to stick with it.

But, let’s get straight to it, how do you lose weight whilst eating as healthily as possible?


You need it. You need more than you’re currently eating. You need different sources of it, and you need it in each meal.

  • Remember you need to stick to this plan, so I want you to write down a list of protein-heavy foods that you will eat and whereabouts in your 3-4 meals a day they will fit.
  • For example, Greek yoghurt might be more of a breakfast food as opposed to fillet steak. Boiled eggs are more snack friendly than chilli con carne! Am I making sense?

Q: Are you eating protein in every meal?


You need them. But you need to reduce the amount of carbs you eat to lose weight.

  • If you cut carbs completely, you’ll lose a few pounds very quickly, but it will be muscle and water, and you won’t look any different. You’ll then become tired, grumpy, irritable and ready for a binge. So reduce, don’t eliminate.
  • What carbs should we eat? Ones that have the most volume. For example, a fist sized sweet potato has exactly the same number of calories as 12 Haribo’s. Which one is going to fill you up more? Exactly.
  • Other examples of bulky, complex carbs include pulses and vegetables.

Q: Are you choosing filling, bulky carb sources to help with hunger?


Eat them. Apart from obvious things like parsnips and potatoes (which are too carby), you need to go for it with veg.

  • Remember how we want to eat the most voluminous food for the least amount of calories. Kale, spinach, celery sticks, carrot sticks, peppers. You can go crazy on these. They’re all packed with nutrients too.

Q: Are you incorporating enough of a vegetable variety in to your diet?


A balanced meal should contain: A nice healthy source of protein – fish, meat, dairy. A small portion of bulky carbs, and a LARGE portion of vegetables.

  • Calories matter though. If you ate three meals as described above on the world’s biggest plate, then you’re cheating the system. Reduce portion and calorie intake where possible. Calorie deficit = weight loss.


One litre per 25kg of body weight is the recommendation. So, if you weigh 75kg, that’s 3 litres per day. Have a big glass as soon as you wake up. And then another.

  • Water between meals is going to keep your stomach fuller, which is always a good thing. Too much water with meals dilutes your stomach acid and may reduce absorption of food and nutrients. This isn’t so good.

Q: Have you drunk your recommended water consumption today?


This has calories in it too. Doh!

However, not all alcoholic drinks are equal. Five pints of beer or a bottle of wine is more calorific than a single vodka and slimline tonic.

  • It also has behavioural repercussions both whilst drinking and the next day. After a few drinks, willpower is reduced, so that choices may become questionable.
  • The morning after a few too many drinks, two poached eggs on brown toast with some tomatoes at the side isn’t going to be anywhere as appealing as something a lot more calorific. I’m not telling you not to drink, but there are consequences all round if you do.
  • We also know that alcohol halts the breakdown and proper use of nutrients until the body has removed the alcohol from the system, this means everything gets stored as fat until the booze has been filtered out.

Q: Are you watching/aware of your alcohol absorption?


If you reduce your calories, you’re going to be hungry. If you’re not hungry, at some point in the day, I’m pretty sure you’re not going to lose any weight. Remember, we need consistency here. We need to be able to stick to the plan.

  • Too much hunger leads to a binge, not enough hunger means no progress. Plenty of water and high-volume food at meals is the first step to warding off hunger though, I can’t stress that bit enough.
  • Try not to get caught in a food emergency, when the hunger mounts up, have a protein and vegetable snack on hand and take your time with every mouthful, this will fill you up much more than wolfing it down.

If you had to rate your hunger on a scale of 1-10… 10 being no food for 3 days whilst being forced to watch cookery programs, what would you say was a tolerable figure to work with? a 2/10? a 3/10? Exactly. It’s not so bad. Keeping your mind busy (distracted) and stay out of the kitchen.

Q: When was the last time you ate? do your “fullness levels” match your fitness goals?


  • The above points are the keys to success, but they are going to require some planning to incorporate them all. It starts with the shopping.
  • Plan at least 4 days worth of meals and buy everything you’re going to need. Online supermarket shops are best as you don’t have to walk past all the treats on special offer at the end of the aisles.
  • When planning the meals, take into account any days out, office situations, prior engagements etc.
  • Another great trick is when making dinner, is make enough for lunch the next day. Let’s be honest – if we have to buy food when we’re out, finding a low calorie, high protein, veg-tastic and filling meal is going to be pretty hard to do. So, take your food with you if you can.

Q: How efficiently have you planned your next three days of nutrition?


I’m going to hammer this one again. You’ll need to stick to this plan for at least 4 weeks, if not 12, so make sure that you can. Losing water on the scales does not make you look better in swimwear. Fact.

  • Don’t cut your calories too low at the start, don’t find yourself stranded somewhere with no food and the hunger gremlins roaring at you, don’t plan a ‘cheat meal’ after 4 days and ruin all the progress you’ve made.
  • Do be honest with yourself about your hunger: are you really starving or just keen to gobble up a tasty cake?! 😉

The Encore approach to non-stop progress

At Encore, you will find a results-focused fitness environment, designed to constantly move you towards your personal goals.

Our unique blend of intelligently intense small-group sessions, evidence-based exercises and ever-changing programmes trains you as an elite athlete, keeping workouts challenging and exciting.

Our strength and conditioning training programme includes classes that focus on lifting weights, in a closely monitored environment, while other build aerobic capacity.

The Encore team also provides nutritional guidance, sharing a range of information sources and expert advice to complement your fitness programme, and help you reach your goals.

Join us and get fitter, leaner and stronger.

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