The smart way to lose weight

It's not just about what you eat but when you eat, as well.

Research continues to show that certain foods, such as molluscs, berries and dark-green, leafy vegetables can help protect the brain from age-related cognitive decline and boost its performance. The same foods that boost brain health are also packed with nutrients and are low in calories - making them ideal for weight-loss. When it comes to brain health, it's not only what you eat, but when that matters. Skipping meals and eating irregularly robs the brain of energy and can affect short-term functions such as memory, concentration and mood. This sample weight-loss meal plan is intended for an overweight, moderately active, healthy woman. People with higher energy needs, including men, should follow the bigger appetite option. For best results, drink at least two litres of water every day, exercise regularly and space meals evenly. Anyone attempting this meal plan should first consult a doctor.

BreakfastTwo medium eggs mixed with 15ml low-fat milk, scrambled in a frying pan with 5ml non-hydrogenated margarine (such as Flora Original); half a slice dense rye bread (such as Delba Backbetrieb wholegrain rye Bread); one orange.

Snack 250ml sliced strawberries with 250ml low-fat yogurt. Lunch Thai rice paper rolls: two pieces of rice paper (available in speciality or Asian grocery stores) soaked in water and stuffed with 150ml cooked rice noodles, 30g cooked shrimp, fresh coriander and shredded carrots. Mango salad - 250ml diced mango tossed 125ml sliced red capsicum and seven cashews seasoned to taste with lime juice, red onions and coriander.

Snack Four wholewheat saltine crackers (such as Garden Wheat) with 30g of Cheddar cheese. Dinner 90g grilled mackerel served with 150ml steamed wheat berries (such as Lulu wholewheat berries); 250ml steamed carrots seasoned with lemon juice; 500ml spinach salad tossed with 250ml sliced raw vegetables and 15ml calorie-reduced vinaigrette dressing (such as Home Brand Delightfully Light Italian).

Breakfast One slice wholegrain toast (such as Modern Bakery Multicereal) with 5ml fruit spread (such as Waitrose reduced-sugar strawberry jam) and a hard-boiled egg; 250ml low-fat yogurt with 125ml blueberries. Snack One apple with 15ml peanut butter. Lunch Half a small (15cm) whole-wheat Arabic bread (such as Modern Bakery low-calorie wholemeal flat bread) stuffed with 60ml water-packed tuna, 125ml tabbouleh, 15ml reduced-calorie mayonnaise (such as American Garden Light), 125ml sliced red capsicum and 250ml rocket.

Snack Medium (375ml) low-fat latte. Dinner One cabbage roll: 60g cooked lean-ground beef, 150ml cooked brown rice, onions and garlic wrapped in a large green cabbage leaf, covered with 125ml tomato sauce (such as Del Grosso Garden Style Tomato Sauce) and baked until soft.

Breakfast 175ml high-fibre cereal (such as Kellogg's Bran Flakes) with 250ml low-fat milk, one sliced banana and 15ml ground flaxseeds (such as Hodgson Mill Milled Flaxseeds). Snack 250ml raw broccoli with 60ml hummus (suchas Lulu's own brand). Lunch Walnut peach salad: 500ml spinach tossed with 125ml cooked lentils, one sliced peach, seven walnuts, 30g cheese and 15ml calorie-reduced vinaigrette dressing. Snack 250ml low-fat yogurt. Dinner 90g grilled chicken breast seasoned with crushed garlic and lemon juice; 150ml mashed sweet potato with 250ml steamed spinach.

Breakfast Smoothie: blend 250ml low-fat milk with 125ml strawberries and a banana; half a slice dense rye bread with 15ml peanut butter. Snack One sliced red capsicum with 60ml hummus. Lunch 375ml low-calorie minestrone soup (such as Baxters Healthy Minestrone with wholemeal pasta) with four wholewheat saltine crackers; one apple. Snack 250ml sliced strawberries with 60ml toasted oats and 10ml honey. Dinner 90g grilled lean lamb loin with 150ml cooked brown rice and 250ml steamed carrots seasoned with lemon juice; 500ml spinach salad tossed with 250ml sliced raw vegetables and 15ml calorie-reduced vinaigrette.

Breakfast Breakfast burrito: half a small wholewheat Arabic bread stuffed with one sliced boiled egg, 60ml shredded cheddar cheese and sliced tomato. Snack 250ml low-fat milk.

Lunch Chicken apple salad: 500ml spinach tossed with 30g grilled sliced chicken breast, 125ml cooked lentils, one diced apple, seven walnuts and sliced cucumber topped with 15ml calorie-reduced vinaigrette. Snack One slice wholegrain bread topped with 15ml peanut butter and one mashed banana. Dinner 90g steamed hammour seasoned with lemon juice and freshly ground pepper, and 150 ml cooked brown rice; 250ml each roasted cauliflower and steamed snap beans seasoned with lemon juice.

Breakfast Two brown rice cakes (such as Vital) topped with 30ml peanut butter; one grapefruit. Snack 250ml low-fat yogurt topped with 12ml blueberries and 15ml wheat germ. Lunch Hummus wrap: one small wholewheat Arabic bread stuffed with 60ml hummus, 125ml shredded carrot, 250ml spinach, sliced tomato and cucumber. Snack 250ml cauliflower with 60ml hummus. Dinner 90g roasted chicken breast with 150ml cooked quinoa (such as Bohlsener Muhle Organic Quinoa); 250ml red cabbage with one shredded apple, steamed until soft and seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Breakfast 175ml cooked oatmeal (prepared with water, such as Quaker Instant Cinnamon Spice) topped with one sliced pear. Snack 250ml low-fat yogurt. Lunch Egg salad sandwich: two slices wholegrain bread filled with one diced hard-boiled egg, 15ml reduced-calorie mayonnaise (such as American Garden Light), 15ml diced celery, sliced tomato and spring onions; 250ml tabbouleh.

Snack Smoothie: 250ml low-fat milk blended with 250ml strawberries, one banana and 15ml ground flaxseeds. Dinner One veggie burger (such as Amy's California Veggie Burger) in small wholewheat sesame bun topped with lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles; 500ml spinach salad tossed with 250ml sliced raw vegetables and 15ml calorie-reduced vinaigrette dressing. For bigger appetites, choose any five of the following brain-healthy add-ons each day; one piece of fruit, 90g cooked salmon or mackerel, 10 oysters, 150ml cooked quinoa, seven walnuts, 15ml peanut butter, 250ml berries or 500ml mixed vegetables.