THE old diet adage says it’s your face or your butt — drop the kilos and you’ll pile on the years. But not so with the Anti-Ageing Food and Fitness Plan, which promises to lighten and tighten, shed weight and wrinkles at the same time.

Australian nutritionist Rick Hay has devised an easy-to-follow plan that promises big results in 12 weeks.

Atlantis actor Sarah Parish is a fan. “I wanted to get in shape the smart way,” she said.

“I love that I’m looking and feeling better — 12 weeks could see you healthily drop a dress size, tone up and turn back the clock.”

Actor Sarah Parish is a devotee of the Anti-Ageing diet. Picture: David M Benett/Getty Images

According to Hay, known as The Superfoodist, a diet mainly made up of plant-based proteins will see you lose weight, cut the risk of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity-linked issues, and clear your complexion.

Thermogenic spices, including cayenne and garlic, help you feel ­fuller and burn fat.

“It’s all about nutrient-density and coloured foods to boost immunity and to keep antioxidant levels up, which also help with cellular health and ageing,” he says.

The diet doesn’t count calories — instead you eat small meals every few hours to control portion size, regulate blood sugar levels and eliminate cravings.

Amelia Joyner (left), 27, from Canberra wants to get fit for a friend’s wedding while her New Yorker friend Andrea Pitt, 28, wants to eat healthier and exercise more in the New Year. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

It’s combined with HIIT (high ­intensity interval training) exercises.

“It isn’t hard,” Hay says. “It is not a fad and is not about demonising food. Life is too short for that.”

Indeed, he even allows you a glass of wine with dinner. “Red wine is best as it contains some good anti-ageing nutrients like resveratrol,” Hay says. “But not too much.”

Exercise

Aim to move more every day and complete the following exercises three to four times a week. Do each exercise in the circuit for 20 seconds intensely and slowly for 40 seconds. Beginners complete the circuit once or twice, up to three to four times for advanced.

“Even short bursts of exercise can help prevent and protect against an array of modern health ­issues,” Hays says. “HIIT helps to speed up your metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day — even after you finish exercising.

Start by walking on the spot, then take it into a jog. After 30 seconds start to increase intensity and go as fast as you can, only taking your feet off the floor a couple of centimetres and moving your arms fast until you hit the minute mark.

Running. Picture: iStock

Speed squats: Stand with feet hip-width apart and lower the hips down into a squat as if you’re sitting on a low chair, sticking out your butt. Move quickly to a standing position and repeat. As you squat down keep arms straight but raise them to parallel with the floor as you squat down. Keep the timing steady.

The plank: Start by getting into a push-up position. Beginners should be on knees and elbows, intermediate on toes and hands. Bend your elbows and rest your weight onto your forearms or hands. Engage your core by pulling your belly button in towards your spine. To increase the intensity of the intermediate move, lift one leg 5cm from the floor and then lower and change. Alternate legs every five seconds. Hold the plank for 20 seconds and then relax for 40 seconds.

The plank. Picture: iStock

Static running: Assume a running position as if about to start a race. Bend your arms and move them back and forth quickly as if running very fast. Increase the speed of the movement to increase intensity and raise heart rate.

Abs: leg raise and touch toes: Lie on your back with shoulders on the floor and legs straight up in the air. Breathe in. As you exhale, reach your hands towards your toes, lifting shoulders away from the ground. Touch your toes if possible and pulse.

Stretch and relax: Sit down with your legs flat, straight out in front of you. Breathe in, raise hands to the ceiling and slowly lean forward keeping your back straight initially. Hold this position reaching as far towards your toes as you can. Either hold feet or use a small towel for feet to draw yourself further into the stretch. Aim to hold this position for one minute or longer.

Stretch. Picture: iStock

You can eat your way younger

Superfoods: Combining cacao, blueberry and raspberries will give you a blast of powerful antioxidants. These will protect the length of your ‘telomeres’, the ends of your chromosomes that scientists discovered shorten as you age. “Longer telomeres mean a longer, healthy life,” says Hay.

Vitamin D: Eating vitamin D-rich food such as fish, tofu, eggs, oysters and mushrooms will also hold back the years.

Folate: Lentils and spinach are high in folate, which also promotes healthy telomeres.

Magnesium: This mineral helps with the integrity and repair of DNA. Found in leafy greens, nuts, seeds, avocados, bananas, figs and dark chocolate.

Nuts and berries are a key way of eating yourself younger. Picture: iStock

Skip the sweets: Avoid a high-GI diet of sugar and refined carbohydrates, in particular processed meats, deep-fried foods, soft drinks and pastries. As well as being unhealthy, they speed up glycation on the skin, leading to wrinkles, lines and saggier skin.

Green tea: A cup or two a day stimulates collagen production.

Skin savers: Tomatoes, avocados, mackerel, berries and garlic will all combat saggy skin.

Here’s how to get started

Breakfast

Option 1

Lemon blast: Half a glass of warm filtered water with the juice of half a lemon, to kickstart the liver and gallbladder and digestive function.

Option 2

Porridge with berries: Add a few teaspoons of fresh or frozen ­berries to a small bowl of porridge with a spoon of unsweetened ­organic yoghurt. Berries are catabolic and help with fat
burning and oats help keep blood sugar levels stable which assist weight loss and mood.

Porridge with berries. Picture: Andrew Cotterill

Option 3

Organic or free-range eggs: Scramble, poach or boil two eggs and serve with one piece of rye or wholegrain toast with organic butter or olive oil margarine.

Option 4

Banana and berry smoothie: Blend 250ml of rice or almond milk with one banana and/or
a cup of berries and a few almonds.

Mid-morning

Option 1

Berry bowl: To a small bowl of berries add a few almonds and organic unsweetened yoghurt.

Blueberries. Picture: Andrew Cotterill
Apple.

Option 2

Apple with almonds: One apple or other piece of fruit, with a few almonds.

Option 3

Yoghurt: Honey with a small, unsweetened ­yoghurt.

Lunch

Option 1

Broccoli, cauliflower and green bean soup: To 300ml of water add a cupful of broccoli and a cup of cauliflower and half a cup of green beans.

Simmer and season with fat-burning thermogenic spices such as black pepper, cayenne, garlic or chilli.

Option 2

Grilled salmon, tofu or tempeh: Grill 150g or less and serve with a cup of leafy greens.

Add an olive oil and balsamic ­vinegar dressing.

Salmon and leafy greens are a great option for dinner. Picture: Andrew Cotterill

This is a protein-based meal that is high in antioxidants and healthy omegas to help with mood and skin.

Option 3

Banana and berry smoothie: As above.

Mid-afternoon

Option 1

Avocado, ricotta, or nut butter crispbread: Add avocado, or a thin spread of ricotta cheese or almond/cashew butter on to two crispbread slices.

Avocado on wholegrain rye crispbread crackers.

Option 2

Carrot and celery sticks: Serve with 50g of hummus.

Dinner

Option 1

Grilled tuna, tofu, tempeh or Quorn: Grill a small piece, 150g or less, together with one or two cups of steamed green vegetables of choice. The vegetables can be dressed with a little olive oil and garlic, sea salt or black pepper.

Option 2

Free range egg omelet: Using two or three eggs, season with chilli or cayenne for thermogenic fat-burning properties and serve with a cup of leafy greens.

Tuna.

Option 3

Green vegetable and cauliflower stir-fry: Stir-fry a cupful of green vegetables and cauliflower with 100-150g of tuna, tofu or tempeh. Season with spices of choice. Add half a cup of brown rice if desired.

After dinner

Dates or prunes with rice or almond milk: Two or three dates or prunes, served warm with a splash of unsweetened rice or ­almond milk.

Before bed

One cup of calming herbal tea, such as camomile, lemon balm or valerian.

The Anti-Ageing Food & Fitness Plan, $23.27, fishpond.com.au. For more visit thesuperfoodist.com.