6.45am: GET YOUR D Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in people who work long hours and see little light and research is now showing that adequate levels are essential to weight management. Ten minutes in direct sunlight or 30 minutes overcast without sunscreen to boost your levels. Vitamin D is also found in fatty fish such as mackerel .
7.30am: POWER-UP YOUR BREKKIE Most of us know that skipping breakfast is a recipe for weight gain and studies show that women who forego this meal are four and a half times more likely to be obese than their breakfast eating counterparts. Having protein in the morning requires more energy from your body to break down so can keep you fuller for longer. In one study, overweight women who had two eggs a day for eight weeks lost 65 per cent more weight and had an 83 per cent drop in their waist measurements than those that ate plain bagels.
7.45am: SIP THE BURN You’ve probably heard enough about the health benefits of green tea to write a book. Here’s more: recent research from Lipton tea found that drinking four cups of green or white tea throughout the day increased metabolic rate by 100 calories a day. That equates to a loss of up to one and a half kilos over three months. Result.
8.00am: SPRITZ An icy shower could help burn fat during the day. Studies in the New England Journal of Medicine found making yourself cold activates ‘brown fat’, a good type of fat in the body that increases metabolism and burns off white fat, the kind that makes you flabby and old. Brown fat is present in babies researchers have found, but adults can help re-activate theirs by lowering their temperature.
10.30am Take the stairs – five times Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that women who ran up and down the stairs at work for two minutes at a time, five times a day boosted their fitness over an eight week period.
1pm FIRE-STOKING LUNCH Opt for legumes such as lentil, kidney, pinto or white beans and chickpeas at lunch. These all contain magnesium which your body needs to burn fat. It’s essential to muscle and nerve reaction as well as energy production and is also abundant in pumpkin seeds, mackerel and spinach.
3pm GET NEAT It might annoy your co-workers but tapping your foot, playing with your pen and generally fidgeting about are examples of ‘non-exercise activity thermogenesis’ or NEAT. A study at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota found that one of the strongest factors differentiating fat people from skinny ones was the amount of NEAT they packed into their day. Examples of NEAT also include wiggling, finger-tapping, pottering; all those daily hints of inadvertent activity most of us do without realising it.
4.30pm SOUP IT UP A protein snack about now will stop you over-consuming at dinner. Between three and five hours after we eat our stomachs empty and release appetite stimulating hormones such as cholestylkonin. If you don’t eat something in response to this release and ignore it, you could end up wanting to eat everything in sight come dinnertime. A cup of hearty chicken soup is a good choice – US researchers found it helped dieters lose an extra kilogram a week due to its low fat and high protein content. If you can’t face chicken soup, other protein choices include a whey protein smoothie, some Brazil nuts or a small piece of cheese.
5.30pm GYM QUICKIE Twice weekly light weight training in the gym is one of the best ways of increasing your muscle tone. But you needn’t slog away for the whole hour. Research at the University of New South Wales has found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) twice a week – that’s where you do eight to 12, 60 second bouts of exercise with one minute in between in 25 minutes – has effects on the muscles that are comparable to those you’d get if you were working out for an hour, he says. Studies have shown that people who do such shorter, high-intensity exercise lose more weight and fat than people doing traditional aerobic exercise.
Healthista TV link: Everyone’s talking about HIIT. Click here for a HTV video fitness tutorial from super-trainer Jane Wake on exactly how to do HIIT (and burn twice the fat in half the time).
7.30pm SLIMMING SUPER-MEAL It doesn’t get healthier – or more metabolism-pumping – than steamed chilli salmon, roasted peppers and tomatoes and one cup brown rice. Steamed salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Add a dressing made with lime juice, soy sauce and chopped red chillis. In one study on Thai women, chillies were found to immediately increase metabolic rate by 20 per cent and sustain it for up to thirty minutes. The fat-burning effect is due to a phytonutrient in chillis called capsaicin. But it’s not just chilli and cayenne pepper that can pump up your metabolism after eating. More recently cinnamon, ginger, mustard, horseradish and turmeric have all been found to have a similar ‘thermogenic’ effect. That means they switch on your body’s heat-production systems, boosting your metabolism as you eat them and afterwards. Lastly, brown rice is a powerhouse of B-vitamins, a group of nutrients essential to energy metabolism and the function of the nervous system.
10.00pm WEIGHT LOSS BATH ‘Lots of my model clients take an Epsom salts bath the night before a shoot when their bodies need to look great’ says James Duigan, author of Flat Tummy Fast (Kyle £12.99) and both Elle Macpherson and Rosie Huntingdon-Whitely’s fitness trainer. ‘Add one or two mugs of Epsom salts (which you can buy from most pharmacies) to a hot bath,’ says Duigan. ‘Epsom salts are an ancient remedy for drawing out toxins. Taking one or two of these a week can speed up your weight loss.’
10.30pm SLEEP As summer comes and the days get longer, some black out blinds could be the best investment into sleep you ever make. What’s that got to do with weight loss? Everything. Studies have shown that too little sleep decreases levels of the hormone leptin in your body, which is essential to fat-burning and appetite regulation. Lack of sleep also causes a spike in the stress hormone cortisol which disturbs blood sugar and is proven to lead to fat gain around the tummy.