Try as we might, in this city it isn’t particularly easy to lead a strictly healthy lifestyle. In our household, exercise plays a very important role for both of us and we usually do our best, at least when eating at home, to maintain a healthy diet. The main issue that many people in Hong Kong struggle with is time – with our hectic lifestyles, we often lack time to prepare healthy food, and end up eating out, or ordering in, more often than we cook for ourselves. Lean by Design is a brand new gourmet food delivery service that promotes “intelligent eating”.
After conducting a body composition test to measure 14 fat-storing sites of the body, the team at Lean by Design, which includes nutritionists, dieticians and personal trainers, will create a bespoke food plan based on your test results and ultimate health objectives. The plans start at 1,200 calories per day and you can choose between a three, six or nine week plan.
Having just spent a ridiculously indulgent week in Bali for my sister’s wedding, I returned to Hong Kong feeling incredibly unhealthy and exhausted. Fortunately, I had already lined up a trial week of Lean by Design’s healthy gourmet meals, starting the Monday after I returned.
Prior to my trip, I had met with one half of the LxD team, Xavier, to have my fat measured. This was not a pleasant experience, as Xavier pinched the fat on my belly, underarms, arms, legs, back, neck and even face with some sort of metal contraption. Given the fact that Xavier himself is a personal trainer and probably has less than 8% body fat, I felt a little nervous of what he might think, and yet at the same time encouraged to better myself.
The Lean by Design meal plans are delivered to your home or office by 11am every morning and include three healthy yet tasty meals. When I first heard that I would receive my meals at 11am (or actually later, since I work in Wong Chuk Hang), I was a little apprehensive, thinking I would have to wait until then to have my first meal of the day. Given that I generally wake up before 6 every day, this was obviously a little worrying. Thankfully, this isn’t the case at all; in fact the LxD team encourage you to have a protein-rich breakfast of either a protein shake or some eggs after training in the morning, which is exactly what I usually have anyway. This obviously means that you end up eating four meals a day, in line with that commonly heard yet rarely adhered to rule of “little and often”.
My meal plan was based on 1,200 calories a day, obviously not including my breakfast. You’d have thought, therefore, that the portions would be tiny, and yet I still find it hard to believe that the three boxes I received each day amounted to only 1,200 calories! Just think how easy it is to consume that many calories in just one meal!
People can often assume that eating healthily means eating boring “rabbit food”. This isn’t the case whatsoever with Lean by Design’s meals. My meals included things like Thai green curry with baby asparagus and brown rice, or roasted turkey breast with lemongrass coconut oil aioli, Thai green papaya salad and roast carrots.
One of my favourites was the coconut-crusted Norwegian salmon with marinated tomatoes and I was super impressed by the Japanese saury fish stew with steamed broccoli.
There were a couple of times when I ate with others who were tucking into enormous meals that looked absolutely delicious. They wickedly chuckled at my “special” food and tried to make me feel bad, and yet I didn’t at all, as my meals were just as tasty and much healthier than theirs. The best part about it was not having to think about what to have for lunch or dinner and not having to worry about grocery shopping.
Lean by Design is still very much a new company and therefore there are obviously one or two things that could be improved. One such thing is the wastefulness of the packaging. Each meal comes in its own (un-branded) plastic container. Nobody wants to end up with 15 plastic boxes at the end of one week, so they may end up just getting chucked out. Perhaps these could be returned to the delivery team upon delivery of the next day’s meals to avoid so much wastage.
All in all, I really enjoyed my week trial and feel a whole lot better for doing it. I have so far gone a whole week with no sugar, no alcohol and almost no gluten…let’s see how long this can continue!
Lean by Design’s packages start at $4,800 for a three-week plan and prices vary depending on calorie intake and the duration of the plan. Clients can also choose to add on personal training and nutritional advice to make the most of the service.
If you’re interested in making a change and starting to eat intelligently, email Natalya and Xavier at firstname.lastname@example.org