"The best white bread you'll ever have! Delicious warm with butter!"
Ready In3 h 5 m
‘Power walking is achievable and accessible by most people – and although it doesn’t have to involve the bum wiggle, there is a degree of technique involved,’ says Robin Gargrave, executive director of YMCAfit. ‘The more effort you put in, the more calories you’ll burn.’
Keep your head up and centred between your shoulders – your head and neck should ‘float’ above your shoulders in a relaxed manner. Keep your chin up and focus your eyes straight ahead.
Keep them back and down. Don’t allow them to round or creep up to your ears.
Imagine a piece of string is attached to the centre of your chest that gently pulls it upward.
They should be bent to slightly less than 90 degrees. Swing them back and forth like a pendulum, briskly and definitely, keeping them close to your body. At the highest point of your arm swing, your elbow will be level with your breastbone; at the bottom of your arm swing, your hand will brush your hip.
Keep them loosely cupped, as if you are holding a butterfly – you don’t want to let it escape but you don’t want to crush it, either.
Pull your belly button gently in towards your spine and tuck your pelvis forward very slightly so you feel tall, stable and upright. This also protects your lower back.
Power your movements from your hips rather than your thighs, but keep your hips loose and natural. They should move forward and back rather than from side to side.
Take short, fast strides that still feel natural.
Land firmly on your heel and roll smoothly to push off with the toes. Think of planting your heel, then pushing the ground away from you as you roll through your foot.
Learn how walking can improve your health.
Eat nothing processed. ‘Clean eaters choose whole foods such as vegetables and fruit, wholegrains, grass-fed and free-range meats, low-fat dairy products and unsalted nuts and seeds,’ explains HFG nutritionist Amanda Ursell.
‘That means fast food, junk food, ready meals, refined foods and added sugars are off limits – although some packaged foods are allowed if you recognise all the ingredients as real, unrefined and free from artificial additives. Many plans also rule out caffeine and alcohol.’ Preparing your own meals is also encouraged so both the flavour and integrity of the fresh food is maintained and the addition of lots of fat, sugar or salt can be avoided.
‘It’s hard to fault a way of eating that starts with real food and messes with it as little as possible,’ says Amanda. ‘It’s also really positive that all the food groups are still included, making it easy to eat in a nutritionally balanced way.’
Find out more: Clean & Lean Diet by James Duigan (Kyle Books, £12.99) can be credited for kick-starting the trend back in 2013.
• Free-range and organic foods are often (but not always) more expensive. You’ll need to shop around.
• Not everyone has the time to prepare absolutely everything from scratch. This unrealistic goal may be hard to sustain.
• Thinking ‘clean’ can be a jump-off point for obsessive thinking about food.
‘There are various ways to approach a low-carb diet, but the common thread is the dramatic restriction on the amount of carbohydrates eaten,’ says nutrition scientist Bridget Benelam. Grains, legumes, starchy vegetables and most fruits are cut back or excluded entirely. Instead, you fill up on non-starchy vegetables, meat (often including the fat), fish, eggs, full-fat dairy and nuts.
‘People following this diet will be excluding sweet treats and fatty carbohydrate-based foods such as chips, pastries and fried snacks,’ says Bridget. So far so good. ‘The high protein content of such diets is likely to keep people feeling fuller and, in the short term, high- protein diets seem to be effective for weight loss. But this difference isn’t maintained in the longer term,’ she warns. ‘Such diets also exclude a lot of foods that are important for a healthy, balanced diet.’
Try this: Choose lower-fat animal proteins, such as poultry and fish, rather than always opting for red meat. ‘Pick plant-based proteins, too,’ suggests Bridget. ‘Low-carb diets can be meat heavy, but going for pulses, nuts and other protein-rich vegetarian options such as tofu, tempeh, seitan or quinoa gives more variety. They’re often high in fibre and usually contain very little saturated fat.’
• ‘Fans of low-carb or no-carb, high-fat eating refute the vast amount of scientific evidence around the heart-health dangers of consuming large amounts of saturated fat,’ says Bridget.
• There are good reasons to eat carbohydrate-rich foods, such as fibre-rich potatoes with skins and wholegrains, especially for bowel health.
• This diet may be difficult to implement in a busy lifestyle and sustain long term as a lack of carbohydrates leaves our energy stores depleted, which causes us to feel tired and run down. Consuming so much meat can also prove expensive.
You’re big on foodie get-togethers – likely to have friends or family over as often as twice a week.
The problem Entertaining can mean drinks, nibbles and extra courses – and calories.
Fix it Instead of crisps, serve vegetable crudités or breadsticks with tzatziki or salsa – and prepare either a starter (such as veg soup, salad or seafood) or a dessert (such as fruit salad or fresh berries) – but not both.
You stick with what you know and eat the same meal up to three days in a row. You hate throwing food away.
The problem Those favourites may not be prepared as healthily as possible.
Fix it Add more veg, use a spray oil, replace meat with chicken or fish and serve higher-fibre sides, such as wholewheat pasta or brown rice. And experiment with the easy, tasty recipes in HFG every month!
You tend to be short on time and rely on grab-and-go options, especially on their way to and from work.
The problem If you buy a lot of prepared food, you may not know exactly what’s in it.
Fix it Use cafés and sandwich shops that display calories, fat and salt so you can opt for the healthiest wraps, sandwiches and salads. If you eat out a lot, check calories on menus or look for nutrition info online.
You find it difficult to fit in three square meals a day, preferring to eat little and often.
The problem You’re not always aware of how much you’re eating when it isn’t served on a plate.
Fix it There’s nothing wrong with snacking if you choose the right sort of snacks and eat a variety. Opt for fruit, low-fat yogurt, unsalted nuts, seeds, low-fat soup, or oatcakes, wholegrain toast or crackers with a little peanut butter or reduced-fat cheese. And watch portions.
By Dr Sarah Schenker, dietitian
Studies have shown breakfast eaters are more likely to be a healthy weight – some suggest this is because they snack less. But I’d wager it’s less to do with them having a morning meal and more a result of their general attitude to health (they may exercise more and drink less alcohol, for example).
I’m happy to tell my clients it’s OK to skip breakfast if they don’t feel like it, or want to offset a large meal the night before – provided they don’t get over hungry and binge on a packet of biscuits and, crucially, they’re going to eat a healthy lunch. It’s often said that eating after waking kickstarts our metabolism, but the importance of allowing the body to spend more time in a fasted state has been recognised as beneficial, not just to weight management but also in lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Years ago, people needed a hearty breakfast to provide energy for a physically active day, but it’s doubtful today’s office workers need the same. Be realistic – a quiet day sitting at your desk doesn’t warrant a huge bowl of porridge, but on a busy day when you’ll be dashing between meetings and may struggle to find time for lunch, it can be the perfect set-up.
My view is that eating breakfast is a matter of choice, but it’s vital to take in fluid first thing as hydration levels will have dipped overnight. Trying to function in a semi-dehydrated state will affect your mood as well as your performance.
Go to page two for the NO argument.
50g muesli (183kcal)
30g bran flakes (100kcal)
50g hummus and 10 tortilla chips (274kcal)
50g salsa and crudités (37kcal)
2 scoops of ice cream (202kcal)
A bowl of fruit salad (75kcal)
8 min of an aerobics DVD = BURN 53kcal
TOTAL 500 CALORIES
A bowl of creamy chicken soup (116kcal)
A bowl of minestrone soup (62kcal)
A jacket potato with 50g grated cheddar (438kcal)
A jacket potato with 100g low-fat cottage cheese (298kcal)
A can of cola (139kcal)
A glass of sparkling water with fresh lime (0kcal)
41 min of housework = BURN 167kcal
TOTAL 500 CALORIES
1 Really enjoy small amounts of your favourite, fattier foods
If you like buttery popcorn at the cinema, share a small carton among three. Break off just three squares of good-quality dark chocolate. Savour treats — breathe in the aroma, nibble at the crispness, roll the fat on your tongue. And eat slowly.
2 Broaden your palate beyond fat, salt and sugar
There are other intense flavours that will linger on your tongue if you add the smallest amount of fat. For breakfast, try porridge with bananas, grated orange zest and low-fat milk, sprinkled with toasted sunflower seeds. For lunch, add fresh mint and dill to salad tossed with a little olive oil dressing. For dinner, stir-fry chicken with onion, lemongrass and garlic.
3 Up your umami
There are salty, sweet, sour and bitter tastes – but don’t forget umami, the ‘fifth taste’. Only fairly recently recognised by Western scientists, this savoury taste (hello, Marmite fans) was named by a Japanese chemist at the turn of the 20th century. It means ‘yummy’ and the chemist noticed it in asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat – but most of all in dashi, a rich Japanese stock made from kombu (kelp).
We get that umami taste when receptors on the tongue pick up the flavour of glutamate (an amino acid and one of the main ingredients in flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate or MSG). Slow cooking and fermenting help to release glutamate, so foods prepared this way tend to have a strong umami taste. Beware, though – some foods with an umami taste are high in salt (many soups and stocks, soy sauce, cheese and cured meats, for example). Good news, then, that you can fill up on umami veg such as sweetcorn, petit pois, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.
Aim to eat at the table with the TV off several days a week. Studies have shown we tend to consume more when we’re distracted. ‘By eating mindfully – sitting down to meals, being aware of the appearance, smell, taste and texture of food, chewing slowly and putting down your cutlery between mouthfuls – you’re guaranteed to enjoy it more,’ says Bridget Benelam, Healthy Food Guide expert and senior nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation. Eating slowly allows time for your brain to send the satiety message to your stomach that you are full. The result? You’re less likely to overeat.
Keep the foods you want to eat more of easily available – put a fruit bowl on the table, vegetable sticks in the fridge, and reduced-fat cheese and crispbreads to hand. If you must have calorific foods that will tempt you to snack, keep them up on a high shelf or at the back of a cupboard.
Write a list of the non-food-related luxuries you enjoy. They could include a long, lazy bath, reading a magazine from cover to cover or seeing a new film with friends. Whenever you’re tempted to reward yourself with food, give yourself one of the treats on your list instead.
Bulk out your meals with low-calorie vegetables and wholegrains – you could save up to 400 calories just by taking out the higher-fat ingredients and replacing with some of these. Check out the Eatwell Plate for a simple guide to a well-proportioned meal.
Have a rule: if it’s not on the list, it doesn’t make it into the trolley – that way, you won’t be tempted by unhealthy BOGOF offers. Never shop when you’re really hungry.
Soup is filling, low-fat and quick to make. Do a weekly salad drawer audit and chop up lingering carrots, celery, peppers, tomatoes and salad leaves. Cook with a little oil spray, then add chilli, garlic, a tin of tomatoes and reduced-salt vegetable stock and simmer until the veg are cooked. Whiz until smooth. It will keep in the fridge for a few days.
Choose foods that are high in protein, such as fish, poultry, lean red meat and eggs, and fibre, such as wholegrain bread, pasta and brown rice, to feel fuller for longer. That way you’ll be less likely to succumb to a snack attack.
‘Alcoholic drinks contain more calories per gram than carbohydrate or protein, while offering little nutritional benefit. Overindulging can also lead to overeating – both at the same time, when your defences are down, or the next day, fuelled by a hangover,’ says Bridget. Stick within the Department of Health’s guidelines of a maximum of two to three units a day if you’re a woman, and three to four units daily for men – a small (125ml) glass of 12% ABV wine is 1.5 units – and aim for at least two alcohol-free days a week. On nights when you do drink, alternate alcoholic drinks with water.
If slimming groups aren’t your thing, join one online to keep track. MyFitnessPal (free from iTunes) has the world’s largest nutrition and calorie database.
If you’ve managed to become more active, try to achieve a bit more each time. Whether you use a pedometer to tot up the distance or a heart rate monitor, it’s very satisfying and motivating to see how you’re doing.