The DASH diet: Can it really help you drop a dress size before Christmas?

America's latest weight loss regime, the DASH diet, promises to help women drop a dress size and achieve a flatter tummy by Christmas WITHOUT counting calories or spending hours in the gym. But does it really work?

DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, has been developed by nutritionist Marla Heller.

It has recently been voted the healthiest diet in the US by a panel of doctors and is being endorsed by The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and The American Heart Association.

It has been designed to lower blood pressure and ward off diabetes, which makes this diet a safer alternative to the Dukan Diet and the Six Weeks to OMG regime.

Heller recommends ignoring the foods that you CAN'T eat by focussing on the foods that you CAN eat instead.

The key is simple - stick to lean protein and healthy fats to control your appetite. The diet is split into two phases; the first phase is a two week low carbohydrate transition programme designed to 'reset' your metabolism. During this time you can't eat fruit and wholegrains but you're encouraged to release your inner caveman and eat plenty of meat.

The second phase reintroduces wholegrains, fruit and starchy veggies and is designed to be a long-term weight management solution.

On average, people lose 5lbs in the first two weeks and between 10 and 35lbs over a period of two months.

Here are six top tips that the author suggests all DASH diet practitioners follow...

1. Three meals per day, plus a morning, afternoon and optional pre-dinner snack
2. Do more exercise
3. Go to bed earlier
4. Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine
5. Don't cut out all salt
6. Relax and focus on weight loss

Hhhhmm, we agree that this sounds like a much healthier and more effective diet than some of the more extreme options out there. But upping your exercise, cutting out saturated fat and eating more vegetables is hardly new diet information.

If you like the sound of this diet, take a peek at The Dash Diet Action Plan: Proven to Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol without Medication by Marla Heller.

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