Now TV nutritionist Amanda Hamilton has devised an alternative weight loss regime, based online, that aims to give dieters the tools to stabilise the scales for good
WHILE they sit comfortably together on the calendar, when it comes to food, December and January make terrible bedfellows. Think of December and the spicy wafts of mulled wine and melt-in-your-mouth mince pies make you tingle with anticipation. In culinary terms, January, meanwhile, is as bleak as the weather, with low-calorie snack bars and meal-replacement shakes on the agenda.
This year, however, Scottish nutritionist Amanda Hamilton is not only taking a stand against these so called diet foods but is serving up an alternative weight loss system. Combining online subscription with a personalised menu prescription, the new Amanda Hamilton Weight Loss programme promises to help dieters stabilise the scales for good.
“I not only think that much of the diet food on offer is nutritionally lacking, but I firmly believe that counting calories ultimately leads to weight gain,” says Hamilton, a 37 year-old mum of four. “This tends to send people on a physical and emotional roller-coaster that’s unhealthy.
“What I am trying to do is take away all the bulls**t that surrounds the diet industry and tell people that, with a bit of hard work, it’s possible to lose weight in a nutritionally sound way. Moreover, it’s possible to lose the same amount of weight as you can on an extreme diet, and just as quickly too.”
Set to host a Family Wellbeing Day at Dobbies Garden World in Lasswade next weekend, the TV presenter will be on hand to dole out the advice that has made her popular on the small screen. While her recent BBC series Slim Chance: Fix my Family shows her working with dieters one-to-one, her latest venture is a mass subscription website aimed at women looking to shed those pounds.
Curling up with a takeaway coffee on the sofa of her spacious Edinburgh home, in person Hamilton is just as attractive and slender as her TV self, although as a size 8-10, she insists she’s no skinny TV personality. This helps to make her as real and refreshing as her message, which boils down to the fact that, when it comes to losing weight, gimmicks or magic pills simply do not work.
Deeply suspicious of the diet industry and the diet foods it peddles (which can be as light on nutritional value as it is on calories), she is launching an alternative to the likes of Weight Watchers or Slimming World. Yet, because she’s asking dieters to pay a monthly fee of £15.95 to access her new programme, isn’t she just joining the establishment rather than rallying against it?
“I’ve been approached before about setting up something like this but it was about finding the right partner – I can’t represent something that goes against my beliefs as a nutritionist,” she says. “Setting this up has involved a huge personal investment, but while I am doing this as a business, everyone on the team is motivated by the same goal which is to help people look after their bodies.
“To do this you’ve got to be able to eat real food. This is not about chaining people to their kitchens, but why would you opt for something out of a packet when you could fill up on poached eggs and wholemeal toast or a delicious stir-fry? At the end of the day it’s very hard to binge on things like porridge, but if you opt for a meal replacement, your body is still waiting to be fed properly so you are still hungry.”
Though the well-heeled women who visit Hamilton at her London clinic have lots of help turning these basic truths into weight loss, can the same be done for an online following? Yes, she says. Hamilton has created a series of quizzes and questionnaires for her website that mean no-one will be saddled with a one-size-fits-all eating plan.
“The answers reveal key information about a person’s hormonal balance, digestion and stress levels. By taking into account all those hidden factors that influence someone’s size, shape and ability to shift weight, we can identify their inner body type and use this to create tailored programmes that will unlock their weight loss ‘engine’.”
Because each diet also takes the member’s basal metabolic rate [a measurement of how many calories needed for their body to function at rest] into account, they’re getting a tailored weight loss plan that, she says, is easier to stick to than some of the other more well-known programmes. “It’s about making sure each individual consumes the right food and in the right quantities.”
Those wary of the virtual dieting world might also question the level of support available to members. After all, when you’re looking down the barrel of a packet of Jaffa Cakes, how helpful can an online pep talk really be?
Amanda does not deny that losing weight takes work and willpower, but she says that an online forum in which women can share their experiences is a valid crutch.
“As opposed to meeting once a week in a village hall for your weigh-in, this programme allows members to live chat with other women, as well as experts such as psychotherapists or a dietician,” she says. “Anyone asking a question will get an answer.”
She’s even worked in a way of dangling a charitable carrot in front of dieters’ eyes with her ‘£’s for 1lbs’ scheme that translates the pounds of flab they lose – and keep off – into pounds sterling for grassroots community organisations.
The website has plenty of video clips of Amanda bringing the theory behind the plan to life. There’s also a Mini Cooper-inspired “dashboard” helping users to track their progress.
The biggest hit, however, will no doubt be the customised meal-planner tool that contains easy-to-prepare recipes and a “drag and drop” option that enables users to switch and substitute recipes to suit their tastes or schedule. When they’re finished, a corresponding shopping list can be created at the click of a mouse.
“As a nutritionist I’ve worked with many women over the years so I know how they think,” she says. “I know they want something intuitive and intelligent – something that is constructed around what they need rather than around a business model.”
Certainly, the programme might lack the seductive slim-fast promise of The Dukan Diet or the glamour of a celebrity endorsement, but Hamilton is confident that her system not only delivers what real women need, but also what they want.
THE AMANDA HAMILTON WAY TO WEIGHT LOSS
Taking considerations such as body type, bone structure, age and lifestyle into account, this system is fine-tuned to an individual by using the Hamwi method that focuses on a person’s height to calculate their ideal body weight. When combined with the dieter’s resting Basal Metabolic Rate, a realistic weight loss goal is set. From here it’s all about following the bespoke menu plans that will help a dieter reach that goal.
The 3 Step System:
STEP 1: THE 5-DAY CLEANSE
This stage is based on three meals and two snacks a day with a high protein, low carbohydrate content designed to kick start the body’s weight-loss “engine”.
STEP 2: THE ‘RE-SHAPE’ PHASE
This system is not just about shedding weight. Thanks to special “re-shape” menus to optimise fat burning according to the dieter’s body proportions, apple and pear silhouettes can be chiselled down to new, much healthier proportions.
Based on a series of quizzes that dieters can take part in during this stage, any hidden reasons behind a member’s current weight or shape will also be uncovered.
STEP 3: THE ‘HEALTHY-ME’ PHASE
Menus to maintain the clients’ new body and lifestyle – with the occasional treat factored in – are provided.
• Amanda Hamilton will be hosting a charity Family Wellbeing Day at Dobbies Garden World, Lasswade on 14 January between 10am and 5pm. In return for a £15 donation per person, visitors will receive a body check (including a weight, BMI, and body fat reading) and advice on how to reach their target weight. A free five-day cleanse voucher (worth £20) for Amanda’s diet will also be included with all donations going to the City of Edinburgh Gymnastics Club. For more information, call Dobbies on 0131 663 1941. For more information on the Amanda Hamilton Weight Loss programme, visit www.amandahamilton.co.uk