Think you can’t get skinny eating bread, cheese, meat, and potatoes? “Think again!” says Arne Astrup, MD, an obesity expert at the University of Copenhagen. He and his team burst onto the international weight-loss scene with an “undiet” that's been clinically proven to melt three times more fat than traditional plans, but can it really be a diet for longevity? The Nordic diet (which was inspired by the Nordic region of the world, where even swimsuit models enjoy hearty fare and remain effortlessly slim) promises no calorie counting, no fuss over portions, and no bland, low-fat food — ever. Simply follow a few healthy guidelines, and you’ll eat dramatically less without even trying. On this Scandinavian diet, “You feel great, your waist shrinks, and life is good,” Dr. Astrup promises.
While many have tried vegetable and meat diets to lose weight, women are often surprised to find that you can lose weight eating potatoes. Proof the University of Copenhagen undiet really works: When we asked Woman’s World readers to test it for us, they shed up to 14 pounds in a week. “It’s amazing,” marvels Ohio mom Tracey Ellis, 46, who lost 13.5 pounds in just seven days. “I can’t believe how much weight I lost.” Georgia mom Christina Vincelli, 40, was also wowed by the experience. “All I could think about was how good the food tastes — and the next thing I knew, I’d shrunk by five inches.”
The Nordic Diet
Impressed by studies on Mediterranean-style diets, Astrup and his team set out to prove that a Nordic-style strategy — based on habits from obesity-resistant nations like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway — can be equally powerful. From the get-go, scientists knew that Mediterranean and Nordic approaches have plenty in common: Both emphasize naturally slimming foods like seafood, fresh veggies, fruit, and good fat, and both limit calorie-bomb restaurant meals and hunger-inducing processed fare.
Perhaps the key difference? “Because of our cooler climate, there is considerably more stick-to-your ribs fare,” notes Astrup. (Think crusty bread, full-fat cheese, roast beef, and herbed potatoes.) With more than 800 test subjects, the Nordic undiet has demonstrated that it can produce “greater weight loss and fat loss” than a traditional diet. “We never tell people to eat less," Astrup adds. "We simply encourage them to eat more of the best things. Weight loss comes naturally.”
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Meat and Potatoes Diet Plan
So, how can you follow the meat and potatoes diet? Read on for the rules you need to know.
Rule 1: Eat more produce — even potatoes. “You can freely eat all fruit, beans, peas, beets, corn, and potatoes,” Astrup insists. Potatoes in particular get a bad rap, but this, the doc notes, is largely due to frying. Baked or boiled, potatoes are packed with fiber, vitamin C, and other nutrients.
Rule 2: Eat more whole grain — especially hearty rye bread. Whole-grain foods contain more protein, antioxidants, and especially dietary fiber, which “increase feelings of satiety, thus causing you to eat less,” Astrup says.
Rule 3: Get more protein — including from beef. “Protein is proven to keep you fuller longer, and it raises your metabolism because it requires more energy to digest than fat or carbohydrates,” Astrup notes. Seafood, a Nordic staple, contains belly-fat-busting omega-3 fatty acids. That said, Astrup adds that “fish protein is not necessarily superior to meat for weight control.” Lean beef, lamb, and venison actually provide a decent dose of omega-3s thanks to their grassy diets. Plus, they generally offer more fatigue-busting B vitamins and iron than fish.
Rule 4: Eat foods close to nature. The more unprocessed, additive-free, locally produced options you choose, the better off your health and waistline will be, Astrup says.
Nordic Diet Meal Plan
Drink all the healthy, natural beverages you like — including water, tea, and coffee. Freely add seasonings like herbs, spices, vinegar, and lemon juice to flavor meals. As always, get a doctor’s OK to try any new plan.
Option 1: Dark rye toast, Neufchâtel cheese, smoked salmon, fresh dill to taste with one piece of fruit
Option 2: One bowl of low-fat regular or Greek yogurt sprinkled with whole-grain cereal and drizzled with honey, paired with one serving of berries
Option 1: Baby spinach, chilled diced beets, chilled barley or brown rice, crumbled goat cheese, olive oil, herbs, and balsamic vinegar to taste, with one hard-boiled egg
Option 2: Nitrate-free deli meat, cheese, baby arugula, a little mayo, and a squirt of lemon on thin dark rye bread together with fresh coleslaw mix and slaw dressing (add dill to taste)
Option 3: Cooked shrimp, cocktail sauce, and creamy potato salad: 1 boiled, cubed medium red potato with skin, 1/2 cup each peas, diced celery and plain low-fat yogurt, 1 tsp. mayo and fresh chives, dill, and salt to taste
Option 1: Grilled fish over steamed spinach or kale, lemon and pepper to taste, with sliced red bell pepper or Brussels sprouts sautéed in olive oil and crusty whole-grain bread
Option 2: Grilled kebabs: Cubed chicken breast, grass-fed lamb or shrimp, mushrooms, bell pepper and tomatoes threaded onto skewers and grilled with hummus as dip and a piece of corn
Option 3: Grass-fed beef or wild salmon (add seasoning to taste) with steamed vegetables, baked potato, plain yogurt, and chives
Option 1: 1/4 cup trail mix made with dried cranberries, pistachios, raisins, and/or cashews
Option 2: 1 cup berries with 10 roasted almonds
Option 3: 1 cup vegetables with 1 oz. cheese
Nordic Diet Menu Plan
Fill your plate with unlimited produce. Add a serving of protein like fish or grass-fed beef and a side of whole grains such as rye bread or brown rice. For best results, aim for unprocessed, local ingredients.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.