If you’re trying to lose weight while maintaining muscle, you might think you need all manner of expensive dietary aids and fancy foods. But there’s no need to panic or break the bank. This month-long meal plan, devised by former international badminton player turned nutritionist and TV presenter Amanda Hamilton, is based on good-quality but inexpensive forms of protein. It contains plenty of slow-release, high-fibre carbs to fuel your workouts and keep you feeling full, as well as essential fats and nutrients that weight loss plans often lack. You don’t have to worry about excessive costs or calories: each day’s menu comes in at under 2,000 calories and costs less than £10 at Tesco .


Breakfast: Porridge oats with ½ a chopped banana, 1tsp honey and 1sp flaxseeds.
Snack: Small handful of cashew nuts (buy a large bag for the week) and ½ a banana.
Lunch: Tomato soup. Tuna and cucumber sandwich on wholemeal bread. 1 piece of fruit.
Snack: 1 boiled egg.
Dinner: Mackerel quinoa bake: mix 1 can of mackerel fillets in brine, 50g garden peas, broccoli, 180g quinoa and side salad.
Daily total: 1,786 calories, 199g carbs, 142g protein, 45g fat
Daily spend: £9.82

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast (freeze a batch of bread and take out in portions required only) with 1tsp tomato sauce. 250ml orange juice.
Snack: 1 apple. 1 pear.
Lunch: 1 baked sweet potato with 1½tbsp cottage cheese and side salad.
Snack: 1 small pot of natural yoghurt with 1tsp honey.
Dinner: Stir-fry a handful of broccoli, 10 cashew nuts and 100g quinoa.
Daily total: 1,845 calories, 185g carbs, 135g protein, 40g fat
Daily spend:

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Breakfast: 50g porridge oats with ½ an apple, grated, and 1tsp flaxseeds.
Snack: 50g reduced-fat cheese. ½ an apple.
Lunch: Lentil soup with wholemeal bread. 1 small pot of natural yoghurt.
Snack: 2 oatcakes and honey. Small handful of cashew nuts.
Dinner: 3-egg omelette with frozen peas and freshly chopped tomatoes. Side salad.
Daily total: 1,765 calories, 190g carbs, 125g protein, 35g fat
Daily spend: £8.26

Breakfast: Fresh fruit yoghurt swirl (chop 1 apple, 1 banana, 1 kiwi and mix with a handful of grapes, 1 pot of natural yoghurt, 2tsp honey, a handful of cashew nuts and 1tsp flaxseeds. Serve with a drizzle of honey).
Snack: 1 boiled egg.
Lunch: 1 baked sweet potato with 1 can of tuna, chopped cucumber and natural yoghurt to taste.
Snack: 2 pieces of seasonal fresh fruit.
Dinner: Vegetable chilli served with 180g quinoa and 1tbsp natural yoghurt (cook a double batch and freeze one portion).
Daily total: 1,924 calories, 184g carbs, 130g protein, 40g fat
Daily spend: £9.11

Breakfast: 2 boiled eggs with 2 slices of wholemeal bread and 1tsp tomato sauce. 250ml orange juice.
Snack: Small handful of cashew nuts.
Lunch: Lentil soup and 4 oatcakes. 1 small pot of natural yoghurt with 1tsp honey.
Snack: 1 apple. 1 pear.
Dinner: 180g roast chicken (keep leftovers), gravy and steamed vegetables.
Daily total: 1,842 calories, 175g carbs, 136g protein, 46g fat
Daily spend: £11.94 (but with leftovers to be used on Saturday)

Breakfast: Porridge with ½ a chopped banana and 1tsp flaxseeds.
Snack: ½ a banana on 2 oatcakes.
Lunch: 1 baked sweet potato with 2tbsp low-fat hummus, grilled peppers and a side salad.
Snack: 1 apple. 50g reduced-fat cheese.
Dinner: Leftover chicken on 2 corn fajitas with grilled peppers, 1 small chopped avocado and 1tbsp natural yoghurt.
Daily total: 1,898 calories, 173g carbs, 140g protein, 45g fat
Daily spend: £6.45

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Breakfast: 1 mackerel fillet, 2 grilled tomatoes, 2 grilled mushrooms. Get the extra chilli out of the freezer to defrost.
Snack: 2 pieces of fresh fruit.
Lunch: 4 oatcakes and low-fat cheese. 1 small pot of natural yoghurt. 1 boiled egg.
Snack: ½ a carton of vegetable soup.
Dinner: The other ½ of the carton of vegetable soup. Vegetable chilli served with 2 corn tortillas and natural yoghurt.
Daily total: 1,900 calories, 169g carbs, 145g protein, 48g fat
Daily spend: £7.27

Fit mates key to flab fight

WANT to fight the flab?

Ditch your couch-potato friends and hang out with carrot munchers, because being healthy could be contagious.

A Deakin University study has found women tend to mimic the eating and exercise behaviours of people around them.

Researchers at the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research surveyed more than 3500 Victorian women, and found healthy participants were most likely to be surrounded by health-conscious peers.

Senior research fellow Dr Kylie Ball said it showed healthy living may be contagious. “Our study considered the impact of social norms on physical activity and eating behaviours, including consumption of fast food, soft drink and fruit and vegetables,” she said.

“We found that women who spent time around healthy peers were more likely to also eat well and exercise … suggesting that healthy living could well be contagious.”

Equally, she said women with friends and families leading sedentary lifestyles and gorging on fast food were less likely to be healthy.

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Dr Ball said one of the reasons could be that people tend to flock to like-minded people. But she also said people were likely to adopt what they saw as social norms.

“Women who see others engaging in particular physical activity or eating behaviours may view these as normal or socially desirable and may adopt them due to a positive attitude about the behaviours, a shared belief in their value or a strong urge to fit in,” she said.

The study, Is Healthy Behaviour Contagious? Associations of Social Norms with Physical Activity and Healthy Eating, has been published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.