DESPITE ongoing media attention about Queen Letizia’s slender frame and speculations about eating disorders, nutritionists say the diet followed by King Felipe’s wife is one of the healthiest on record.
The former TV reporter, who became Queen in July when her husband was crowned Felipe VI, has suffered criticism in glossy magazines for being very slim and unfounded claims about anorexia – despite other women in her family having a very similar frame, showing her slight build is likely to be genetic.
But Dr Rubén Bravo of the European Medical Institute for Obesity (IMEO) says he and his team of 30 experts have studied over 150 so-called ‘miracle weight-loss’ diets and conclude that the Queen’s régime is highly nutritious.
The Perricone Diet ‘puts healthy eating ahead of weight loss as a priority’, Dr Bravo explains.
“There may be a thousand and one ways of losing weight, but the end does not always justify the means, because you need to think about what’s good for your health long-term and not fall into a vicious circle of rebound weight gain, metabolism disorders and other risks that counteract the effectiveness of different slimming plans,” says the nutritionist.
He and other specialists at the IMEO have found just five diets which work well, with the Perricone régime at the top of the list.
The healthiest slimming plans are those which aim for a moderate weight loss of no more than 1lb to 2lb, or half a kilo to a kilo a week, which are easy to stick to long-term and do not lead to rebound weight gain, Dr Bravo explains.
These diets include practically every food group, but with reduced quantities, and help to re-educate those who follow them by teaching them how to eat properly and lead a healthy lifestyle.
The Perricone diet includes all food groups, but reduces some and increases others depending upon the individualin order to prevent inflammation and oxidation of cells, which helps slow down the process of wrinkles forming and keeps infections at bay.
“A good diet, in my view, centres much more on being healthy than on how many kilos you can lose in how many days,” insists Dr Bravo.
“In principle, with a good diet plan, you can eat the majority of foods, but the Perricone diet places priority on certain ones that you should eat every day – such as fresh salmon, forest fruits, green vegetables, porridge and extra-virgin olive oil – meaning its benefits also show up in the skin, in a feeling of general vitality, and in slowing down the outward signs of ageing.”
Other diets recommended by the IMEO, which in principle do not sound very healthy, include the ‘ceviche plan’ which is followed by Princess Catherine, or Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
This involves eating practically everything raw – salad, fruit, gazpacho, almond milk, goji berries and ‘lots of’ raw fish, although the latter should be handled with great care and fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly, Dr Bravo says.
A slightly extreme-sounding diet which is said to be healthy for short-term weight loss is the ‘2.3.2 plan’, according to the IMEO.
It allows the person following it to lose between 4.5 and six kilos (10lb to a stone) in three weeks, depending upon constitution, gender and level of physical activity.
Two days of healthy eating adapted to the body’s ‘biorhythm’ – a large breakfast containing mostly carbohydrates, a medium-sized lunch containing vegetables and protein, and supper of a low-fat soup and a fat-free yoghurt – are followed by three days of ‘detox’, eating the minimum calorie intake required, said to be 800 calories, made up of ‘purifying’ vegetables, vitamin-rich fruit, easily-digestible proteins, dark chocolate, fat-free dairy produce and even red wine.
The final two days involve ‘normal’ eating, and are normally on a weekend, with beans and pulses, pasta, rice and potatoes included, as well as a home-made dessert, but always in smaller-than-usual portions.
Two others are the ‘Bioprotein Diet’ and the ‘Dissociated Diet’ – the first being recommended for women going through the menopause where a high level of vegetable and fruit consumption does not always translate to weight loss, and the second being ‘food combining’, or not mixing consumption of protein, fat and carbohydrates, and leaving at least four hours between each meal.
Otherwise, the best dietary advice nutritionists tend to give is to eat five varied portions of fruit and vegetables, six of complex carbohydrates – ideally high-fibre, wholemeal or wholegrain varieties – between half and one litre of milk a day, one portion of lean protein and two litres of water, and to take 15 to 30 minutes of light exercise, such as walking, every day.
Cutting out entire food groups is not recommended and protein-only diets are generally frowned upon by nutritionists.
In general, they recommend eating a balanced diet, but reducing the portions when trying to lose weight and never to aim for more than 2lb, or a kilo, a week at the very most.