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Saturday, 23 November 2013

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Weight Loss Aids?

Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH

Veterans of the weight-loss wars are likely familiar with omega-3 fatty acids as the “healthy fats” touted in some popular diets as being both beneficial to overall health — particularly heart health — and a boon for weight loss.
Omega-3 is shorthand for the more correct term “long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids” or “n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).” They are found in deep-sea fish such as salmon, mackerel, swordfish, and shark as well as certain oils (canola) and nuts (walnuts). There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids:
  • Alpha-linoleic acid (ALA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Weight-Loss Plans
Here’s how popular diet plans stack up in terms of the amount of omega-3 they suggest:
  • The USDA Food Guide Pyramid recommends between 1 and 3 grams of omega-3 per day.
  • The Zone diet and the Atkins diet each recommend between 3 and 4 grams per day.
  • The Ornish plan keeps omega-3 to 1 gram or less per day.
Studies have shown that diet success depends more on calorie reduction than the specific plan you follow, so naturally if your goal is weight loss, you might be wondering whether the amount of omega-3 foods in your diet makes a difference.
According to researcher Mario Kratz, PhD, assistant member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and research assistant professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, the answer is that, despite their other health benefits, omega-3 fatty acids do not have a direct effect on weight loss.
Many studies have shown that people can lose weight on diets with an emphasis on omega-3, says Kratz, but when his team conducted a trial comparing the weight loss of two groups of overweight people who ate exactly the same foods with the exception of the types of fats used to prepare the foods (omega-3s vs. saturated fats), they found no difference in weight loss between the two.
“Omega-3s may help with other health consequences of being obese, such as heart disease, but in terms of these fats specifically helping you to lose weight, I’d say if there is any effect it’s probably minimal and it doesn’t play a clinical role,” says Kratz.
Why You Should Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Your Diet
Research into the weight-loss benefit of these healthy fats is still ongoing, the current theory being that these fats:
  • Improve glucose sensitivity
  • Reduce insulin resistance
  • Reduce markers of inflammation
  • Speed fat oxidation by stimulating a specific receptor in the liver that affects fat
All of this means that if you include some fat in your diet, choosing omega-3 fatty acids is better for weight management than foods containing saturated fats. On a practical level, this means your weight-loss goals could benefit from choosing salmon for dinner over beef or from preparing foods with canola oil instead of butter.
More Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Even if increasing omega-3 foods won’t accelerate weight loss, there are many health benefits to including them in your diet:
  • Lower triglycerides
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Slow atherosclerosis
  • Reduce heart attack and stroke risk
  • Improve symptoms of arthritis
Building a Weight Loss Diet with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The changes you will make to increase omega-3 fatty acids in your diet should complement your weight-loss plan. Consider including more of these foods with omega-3 fatty acids:
  • Fatty fish including salmon, tuna, and mackerel
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Vegetable oils such as canola, flaxseed, and soybean
  • Nuts, with walnuts at the top of the list
Although it would be difficult to eat enough fish to get excess calories from adding omega-3 foods, you certainly could go overboard with nuts and oils, so stick to the minimum you need. Take a supplement to amp up your omega-3 intake without the calorie load. Supplements offer the same health benefits without the added calories.
Even if omega-3 fatty acids do not cause weight loss, there are many health benefits to including them in your diet — and better health is at the core of why you want to lose weight.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

How to Lose Weight Fast With a Rowing Machine

By Marie Mulrooney

An excellent machine for serious workouts, the stationary rower combined with a healthful diet can drive the pounds off fast. But healthful, quick weight loss might not be what you're used to hearing about on infomercial advertisements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observes that losing weight at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week makes you more likely to keep the weight off in the long run.

Pacing Weight Loss

Promises of super-fast weight loss are tempting but often involve unsustainable life changes like extremely restricted diets or dehydration. Once you inevitably give those changes up, the weight comes right back on. Although losing 1 to 2 pounds a week might not seem "fast," it adds up to a respectable 50 to 100 pounds per year. If you take the weight off with sustainable life changes -- in which using a rower regularly can play a big part -- you often lose weight faster over the long run because you don't have to lose the same pounds more than once.


To enjoy the full benefit of using a rower, you must employ proper technique. Don't sit down and scoot back and forth, tugging on the handle. Instead, start with a strong leg drive, pushing your seat back. Lean back slightly from the hips at the end of the leg drive -- think of swinging from 1 o'clock to 11 o'clock on a clock face -- and bring the handle quickly in to your lower ribs. Then reverse the motion, extending your arms, hinging forward from the hips and bending your knees in preparation for the next stroke.


    The American College of Sports Medicine notes that if you want to lose weight, you might need to exercise as much as 60 to 90 minutes per day. The more you exercise, the more calories you burn and the faster you lose weight, as long as you don't overtrain. Give yourself at least one rest day a week and watch out for symptoms of overtraining like unusual fatigue, increased muscle and joint soreness, insomnia and increased resting heart rate. You can keep exercising through mild soreness, but if your muscles are extremely sore from rowing, perform other, gentler cardio or rest until the soreness subsides.

    Tracking Your Calorie Burn

    If you weigh 125 pounds, you can burn 510 calories per hour of vigorous stationary rowing, according to Harvard Health Publications. The heavier you are the more calories you burn. If you weigh 185 pounds, you can burn 754 calories per hour. Even if you're relatively light, you can still work out harder to increase your calorie burn. Try spiking your long workouts with intervals of high intensity, either by increasing your stroke rate or using higher resistance for a short period. Aim to burn between 500 and 1,000 calories per day to hit a weight-loss goal of 1 to 2 pounds per week. If you tolerate this activity level well, you can increase your calorie-burn goal to lose weight even faster.


    For every 3,500 calories you burn off and don't replace with food, you lose about 1 pounds of body fat. But that doesn't mean you should starve yourself. If you don't consume enough nutrients to fuel your body's increased activity levels, your body might actually reduce its metabolism, making weight loss more difficult. Speed your weight loss along by consuming a reduced-calorie diet rich in nutrients. As a general rule you can consume as many fruits and vegetables as you want, along with reasonable helpings of whole grains and lean protein. This fuels your body without replacing all calories you're working so hard to burn off.

    Tuesday, 19 November 2013

    Why weight loss requires strength training, even in women and seniors

    by Mike Adams

    Did you know that strength training is crucial for successfully losing weight and keeping it off? I'm talking about weight-bearing exercise. It doesn't have to be a huge, hulking workout where you're trying to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, it just has to be some basic strength training.

    Why is strength training important for losing weight? Because a lot of people try to starve themselves into weight loss. They think it's all about controlling calories. Unfortunately, a lot of dieticians and nutritionists don't really understand strength training, and they also think that it's just about calories. Calories in, calories out. If you have a calorie deficit, you're going to lose weight, if you consume extra calories, you'll gain body fat. While that's true, it's only part of the picture. Sure, you need a calorie deficit to lose weight, but how does your body actually use calories? It's your lean body mass, that muscle mass underneath your body fat, that burns calories 24/7, allowing you to actually eat more calories without gaining weight.

    Let's say you happen to be quite obese and you have a high percentage of body fat. I used to be in that situation; I know what it feels like. Underneath that body fat you actually have a very strong skeleton and strong muscles. Your body has built up those muscles in order to carry all of that extra body fat when you move your body. Just the very act of standing up, walking across a parking lot, going up a flight of stairs or lifting your arms requires more effort when you're overweight, especially if you're obese. So the heavier you are, the stronger your muscles have to be just to allow you to do basic, everyday things.

    Now this can actually work to your advantage -- if you manage to keep all of that muscle mass and bone density in place while you are losing body fat, then you can maintain the high metabolism that's associated with that lean body mass even while you are dropping body fat. But if you starve yourself, you're going to lose all the muscle resources you already have. It's a mistake a lot of people make. They try to lose body fat by starving themselves, and as the body fat vanishes from their body, their muscle mass also disappears. Why would the body get rid of muscle mass? Because, frankly, it doesn't need it.

    Your body adapts to the need

    You see, the body is an adaptive system. It will adapt to whatever loads you place on it. So if you are a heavier person and you're carrying around body fat, then your body will adapt by creating stronger muscles to lift your body. It's almost like doing a leg press every time you get up out of the chair. If you weigh 300 lbs you're doing a 300 lb leg press, you see? Now if you were to drop 150 lbs of body fat and end up at 150 lbs, your body wouldn't need the same amount of leg muscle to lift you. It would eliminate those leg muscles through catabolic action.

    While it eliminates this muscle mass, your metabolism begins to slow. Remember, it's the lean body mass that's burning calories day in and day out, even when you're doing nothing. If you reduce that muscle mass by allowing it to go away (by not challenging your muscles), then your metabolism is going to slow. A lot of people end up at a place where they've lost the body fat and they're lighter, but it's suddenly so much easier to put on body fat. They don't have the muscle mass they once did, they're not automatically burning calories, and if they overeat just a little bit, they'll start packing on the body fat again.

    Strength train while losing weight

    The solution to all of this, the strategy I want to focus on here, is to engage in strength training while you are losing body fat. If you do this, then you will be able to maintain the muscle mass that you already have underneath your body fat while you are in the process of losing the fat. This will leave you with a greater proportion of lean body mass to body fat, meaning that you will be slimmer, yet you'll have the muscles that you had when you were overweight.

    If you get rid of enough body fat in this way, then those muscles may begin to show -- if you're a man. If you're a woman, don't worry. You're never going to bulk up. A lot of women are mistakenly afraid of strength training. They think that if they pump a few weights they're going to turn into Lou Ferrigno overnight. They think they're going to have this competition muscle-bound body from lifting a couple of weights. Believe me, that is not the case at all. Most of those bodybuilding women are using steroids, and they've trained for years, even decades, just to produce that kind of muscle mass. Women are not built to puts on lots of muscle mass, so don't be afraid that you'll bulk up. Women who are afraid of exercising because they think it's going to make them look bigger have it all wrong.

    Women need strength training, too

    Let's take a moment to cover that myth here. Let's say you're a woman and you have more body fat than you want. You're trying to decide, "Should I engage in strength training as part of my weight loss program?" Some women say, "No, because I'll bulk up and it'll make me look fatter." That's a complete myth; it's totally false.

    When you have a high percentage of body fat, that body fat is stored not only in the tissues that are obvious -- such as your hips and your midsection, your arms and legs and so on -- it's also stored intramuscularly, which means it's stored within the muscles of your body. It's sort of like the marbling of beef from a cow. If you slice a muscle from a cow, there's some fat inside the muscle -- that is the same kind of fat that's in our muscles when we have a high percentage of body fat.

    That fat takes up a lot of space in the muscle, so it actually makes the muscle look bigger, because there's fat inside. When you start losing body fat, even if you're engaged in strength training, that intramuscular fat will begin to vanish. So even if your muscle mass begins to grow -- which, again, is very difficult for women to accomplish -- your overall muscle size is probably going to be smaller when you're at a lower percentage of body fat. The net change in your muscle size is going to be almost nothing, unless you really start to do strength training on a regular basis for a period of a year or two, and then you might actually begin to put on a little bit more muscle.

    Don't lose the muscle you've already built

    So with that crazy myth covered, let's get back to the main point here, which is that engaging in strength training will conserve the muscle mass you have now. Now here's why this is so important. It's very easy for your body to shed useless muscle. So if you're not using a muscle, your body will get rid of it over a few months. It's gone. But to gain that muscle back -- now that takes some effort! That could take months or years of strength training. It is much harder for your body to engage in anabolic reactions (to build muscle mass) than it is for your body to catabolize and get rid of muscles. So, if you decide you're going to starve yourself while you lose weight and get down to the minimum weight possible, and afterwards you engage in strength training, then you're going to find that it's a much more difficult process to gain lean body mass than it was to slim away what you had to begin with. Building lean body mass is a huge challenge.
    It's also important to note that when people talk about weight loss, they throw that term around without really understanding what it means. Everybody says "I want to lose weight," but they don't really mean that. They mean they want to lose body fat; they don't want to just lose weight. A limb amputation will cause you to lose weight, but that's not what people have in mind! People want to lose body fat. So be careful what you wish for -- and don't use that bathroom scale as a measure of your progress. There are a number of reasons why.

    One is if you just starve yourself and you start losing lean body mass, then that counts as weight loss. But you've done yourself no good whatsoever, because now you've actually lowered your metabolism. The scale says, "Hey! You lost another three pounds!" But it could be 2 lbs of fat and 1 lb of muscle, and that's not a good situation to be in. You want to lose maybe 2.9 lbs of fat and 0.1 lbs of muscle, or maybe 3 lbs of fat and no muscle. But to do that, you've got to challenge your muscular system through some weight bearing exercise.

    Don't forget the glycogen fuel stored in your body

    The other thing to keep in mind when you're using the bathroom scale is that when you first start limiting your calories, your body is going to start burning through its glycogen stores. Glycogen is basically a fuel stored in your body. It stores sugars together with water and locks them up in the tissues and organs of your body like an energy battery, ready for you to use at a future time.

    There's water locked in with those calories. That water weighs a lot. So when you start restricting your calories, the first thing your body burns is this extra storage of energy, this extra glycogen. And the glycogen causes you, as it's burned, to shed water. You might look at the scale and think, gee, I lost 5 lbs, but you really lost no body fat whatsoever. It was just water, because your body released glycogen. What usually happens to people when their glycogen store has reached zero is they get really hungry, they think they're in a starvation panic, and then they overeat. Their glycogen stores fill right back up, they gain the 5 lbs back, and usually they overate to such an extent that they store another half a pound of body fat or so. Now they're half a pound heavier than when they began and they lost no body fat whatsoever. It was just a game of glycogen and water storage they saw reflected on the bathroom scale.

    Bathroom scales are useless

    So ignore the bathroom scale. It is not useful for telling you how successful you are in losing body fat. I don't use one at all. The only measure you should use is a "fat scale" or a caliper. A caliper is the best way to measure body fat. Body fat calipers measure the thickness of body fat in key locations around your body. For men, one location is on the upper pectoral area, another is the midsection and the third is on the top of the quadriceps of the leg. For women it's the back of the arm, the midsection and along the hip.

    However, you've got to learn how to use a caliper correctly if you want it to be an accurate indicator of fat loss success. I just mention it as a tool for people who are really serious about losing fat. People who use bathroom scales to figure out how much weight they've lost are just playing a silly game of deception -- the bathroom scale is useless. I mean, you could lose bone mass and you'd still look like you were having lots of progress on the bathroom scale.

    How do you lose bone mass? Easy: you stop engaging in exercise, stop walking, stop running. If you do all that (which I'm not recommending, by the way), then you would start to lose bone mineral density, and that would be reflected as weight loss. When you say you want to lose weight, be careful what you ask for. Your body has a number of ways to lose weight that have nothing whatsoever to do with losing body fat or enhancing your overall state of health.

    Engage in weight training when losing body fat

    Now let's get back to the main point, strength training and why it is so important. So far, I hope I've explained the idea that underneath your body fat you have a strong musculoskeletal system. There's a lot of muscle mass and good, strong bones underneath all of that body fat. If you find a strategy to conserve that, even while you're losing body fat, then you can have a much more successful weight loss experience and end up with a strong skeleton and strong muscles at the end of your regimen as well.

    The way to do that is to engage in basic weight-bearing strength training while you are pursuing a diet. And it turns out that you don't have to go crazy on this. I am suggesting that you go to the gym and start pumping iron on the bench press, 50 reps a day, or thatnot  you exhaust your body with crazy workouts. It turns out that you don't even need to stress your body very much to maintain the current muscle mass that you have.

    15 seconds of stress creates new muscle

    In fact, there's a system of strength training called static contraction training that is outstanding for maintaining current muscle mass and even enhancing it if you choose to go that far. The best thing is that it takes very little time. How much time am I talking about? You'll be amazed to hear this, but literally, it's true: 15 seconds per muscle group per week. Only 15 seconds per muscle. If you engage that muscle for 15 seconds with high intensity contraction, then your body gets the signal that, hey, it needs that muscle. It needs to keep it around. And your body decides NOT to let that muscle go. It just keeps it, because it figures you need it.

    Remember, your body has a lot of wisdom, and it's trying to conserve calories. The body wants to get rid of muscles it doesn't need, and in order to keep those muscles, you have to prove to your body that you need them. Now the thing is, your body doesn't know why you need them. It could be that you're engaged in some kind of competition, it could be that you need to lift heavy things to survive. Your body doesn't really know the reason why. You can essentially fool your body by engaging in strength training, giving it the message that it needs to hold on to those muscles in order to survive. So in as little as 15 seconds per muscle group, you can tell your body to hold on to your muscle mass. That's a 15 second bicep curl, for example, or a 15 second chest press, or a 15 second leg curl…you get the idea.

    To learn more on this, I suggest you get a book called Power Factor Training by John Little and Pete Sisco. Check out that book. It gives you the lowdown on how to do this. It's positioned at bodybuilders, but it's actually the underground secret book of strength training for people who are 50 years and older. Senior citizens benefit from this tremendously. There are also many golfers who use this system to greatly increase their range and golf swing.

    Women are additionally benefiting from this system -- when you're dealing with the potential for osteoporosis when you get up in your years, bone density becomes crucial for your overall health. There is no better way in the world to make sure you have strong bone density than to engage in high intensity, short duration strength training exercises. Static contraction training is, in my view, the very best system of exercise for maintaining not just muscle mass, but also bone mineral density. You will also strengthen your ligaments and tendons.

    The key is, as with all forms of exercise, to be sure to work with a qualified health professional before attempting this, especially some of the more high intensity exercises. You may want to ease your way into it and check with your naturopath, doctor or physical therapist to make sure you're ready for this. You don't want to injure yourself -- that would set you back weeks. So take it a little bit at a time. Remember, your body will adapt slowly, so ease into it slowly. By doing all of this, you'll be able to conserve the incredible muscle mass that you have underneath that body fat right now.

    Accelerated weight loss

    The other benefit to doing this is that strength training will greatly increase the speed of your weight loss effort. It will double the effectiveness of any weight loss program you're on. Losing weight by calorie restriction alone is very, very difficult. In fact, personally, I've never been able to do that. The only way I've been able to lose body fat (I lost over 50 lbs of body fat, and I've kept it off for several years now) is to engage in exercise that includes both a strength training component and a cardiovascular component. My belief is that you cannot keep weight off just by modifying your diet alone, unless you happen to be extremely gifted with just the right genes that don't ever turn on the hunger signal for you. If you're in that situation, good for you. But you should probably think about exercising anyway, because of the other cardiovascular health and brain chemistry benefits that are derived from frequent exercise.

    Alternative training: Pilates

    Now, some people say "Well, I can't join a gym, I can't exercise, I don't want to go to that website and look up static contraction training, I don't want to do that, I don't want to pump weights. What do I do instead?" There's a great solution for people who don't want to pump weights, and I understand a lot of women are in this situation, nothing wrong with that. You can be very strong without pumping weights if you follow Pilates.
    Pilates is a form of body movement and flexibility training that was pioneered by Joseph Pilates almost 100 years ago. The guy was well ahead of his time. This is a system that I definitely follow today. The movements require a lot of strength, but not so much that you can't get started. There are simple ways to get started with Pilates on a mat that would greatly boost your muscle mass and your overall strength -- especially your abdominal strength and your lower back strength. And then, as you gain comfort with that, you can move up to the more advanced movements in Pilates.

    And you can even get Pilates equipment, which is rather affordable. The best place for that (in fact we're going to do a review on some of these machines later) is, which is the website of a manufacturer of Pilates equipment. They have outstanding equipment -- 5 stars all the way. This company is great! They even have an affordable home version of this Pilates equipment that runs only a couple of hundred dollars. Well worth the investment.

    What does this Pilates system do for you? It will give you strength training all over your body -- in your hips, adduction and abduction muscles, abdominal muscles, lower back, traps, biceps, triceps, chest, upper body, lower body and especially in your midsection. It will do all of this for you -- I should say with you -- without using any weights. So you don't have to set up a bench press with 200 lbs and see how many reps you can bang out. Pilates can be done in a more artful way. It is a form of body movement that can be very yoga-like if you choose, or it can be done with more power. This is why both men and women find Pilates to be a fantastic system of strength training. I know a lot of people in the performing arts community who rely on Pilates to maintain core strength and flexibility throughout their body, including in their arms, legs and neck muscles.

    The cure for joint pain

    I've got to mention this too: If you engage in Pilates, you may experience one of the benefits that almost everybody experiences when they do this for a couple of months: their joint pain begins to disappear. People always complain about their joint pain, it seems. When I'm at the gym, I hear guys in their 40s -- they're only 45 years old! -- and they're complaining and whining about how much everything hurts. They say, "Oh, wait 'til you're my age, everything's gonna hurt!" And I respond with, "I don't think so!" I've experienced chronic pain, and I know what that feels like. But now I do Pilates and engage in outstanding nutrition and the pain is gone.

    The body is designed to be healthy, it's not supposed to hurt. If you feed your body right and if you use and mobilize all those joints, they will not hurt, even to the age of 100. There's no reason why we can't live to 100 in a state of perfect health with outstanding cognitive function, free of chronic pain. But to do that, you have to use it. I firmly believe in the concept of "use it or lose it." If you're not using those joints, then you're going to lose their range of motion.

    Just ask any physical therapist, they will tell you much the same. You have to have range of motion in order to be free of pain. The difficulty is that as we get older, we tend to stop using all of those muscles and joints in their full range of motion. A lot of people who say that chronic pain is related to aging are really confusing cause and effect. It's not related to aging, it's related to the number of years that they've stopped using their body.

    For example, take a person who is a dancer or someone engaged in yoga, Pilates or flexibility well into their 80s or 90s, and they won't have joint pain. If aging causes joint pain, then how is it that these people have no pain? The answer is because they keep mobilizing those joints, they keep using their body. They engage in Tai Chi or other gentle body movements. And they are free from pain. By the way, Tai Chi is another outstanding way to get range of motion, but it won't do quite the same thing for you in terms of muscle mass as Pilates training or other weight bearing exercises. (Tai Chi has many other energetic benefits, though, which are beyond the scope of this article.)

    What's missing from all diets

    The bottom line is if you are attempting to lose weight, or more specifically to lose body fat, then engaging in some form of strength training is crucial to your success. I know there are a lot of books out there that say well, you can just change your foods, or you can consume this one particular food like grapefruit or cabbage, or you can go on the popular low-carb diet. I know some people have success with that, but I think the vast majority of people don't really meet their weight loss goals just by changing their foods.

    What's missing is that body component, the strength training, the movement, the flexibility, and also the cardiovascular training. What I'm suggesting is that you seriously consider finding a way to get some form of strength training into your life. It could be as easy as buying a floor mat or a DVD video on Pilates. Those videos are as little as $15 or $20. So your total investment, including the mat, could be only $40 or $50. And then you can engage in strength training.

    Finding a workable system

    Most people who are really committed to losing body fat are okay with the effort part. That hasn't been the problem. The problem has been finding a strategy that really works. What's a system that works? People tried the Atkins Diet or the low carb diet, and for many people that didn't work. People tried the low fat diet years ago -- well that didn't work, because everybody just loaded up on carbohydrates and cookies. People tried all kinds of other things -- they tried stimulants, things that make you shake all day long because you have a lot of caffeine in your system. And gee, they found out that didn't work either, because it just made them hungrier.

    So, typically, it's not the effort that stops people. It's the reliability of the system. Finding out what really works is the hardest part. Unfortunately, this particular narrative here isn't about food strategies that work for dieting, although I have many -- those that I've used and those that I've shared with others have really worked well.

    But I can tell you that no system will work without the physical body movement component. You've got to engage in strength training, you've got to engage in cardiovascular exercise, even if it's just walking for 5 minutes a day. If you can't walk, even just lifting your arms for 10 minutes a day, or lifting a 1 lb dumbbell over your head 50 times will benefit you. I don't care what it is, if you can move something, then you can engage in cardiovascular exercise. There is no excuse, unless you happen to be paralyzed from the neck down, in which case obviously you can't engage in strength training. But for everybody else, there's no excuse. If you can move a limb, you can do this.

    Monday, 18 November 2013

    How To Build Your Own Workout Routine

    By Steve kamb

    What should I do for a workout?
    I get this email at least once a day, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t have the perfect answer for everybody.  Considering that a program should be developed around a person’s biology, age, goals, diet, free time, etc, there’s a lot of factors I can’t get in ten minutes through email.
    I can certainly offer up suggestions, but there’s one person that knows what’s best for you: YOU.  Developing a workout routine for yourself can be scary, but it’s really not too difficult and kind of fun once you understand the basics.
    First of all, what are you doing now. Is it working?  Are you safe and is it making you healthier?  If so, keep doing it!  However, if you’re JUST getting started, you want to mix things up, or you’re ready to start lifting weights (after reading that weight training is the fat-burning prize fight victor), it’s good to understand what goes into a program so you can build one for yourself.
    Let’s do this.

    Determine Your Situation

    How much time can you devote to exercise?
    If you can do an hour a day, that’s awesome.  If you have a wife, three kids, and two jobs, then maybe you can only do thirty minutes every other day.  That’s fine too.  Whatever your time commitment is, developing the most efficient workout is crucial.  Why spend two hours in a gym when you can get just as much accomplished in 30 minutes?
    Where will you work out? At a gym? Using some weights at home? Just body weight exercises?

    What Exercises Should I Do?

    Keep it simple, stupid.
    Unless you’ve been lifting weights for years, I recommend doing a full body routine that you can do two or three times a week.  You want a routine that has at least one exercise for your quads (front of your legs), butt and hamstrings (back of your legs), your push muscles, your pull muscles, and your core.  Yes, this means you can develop a full body routine that uses only four or five exercises.  Hows THAT for efficient?
    • Quads – squats, lunges, one legged squats, box jumps.
    • Butt and Hamstrings – hip raises, deadlifts, straight leg deadlifts, good mornings, step ups.
    • Push (chest, shoulders, and triceps) - overhead press, bench press, incline dumbbell press, push ups, dips.
    • Pull (back, biceps, and forearms) – chin ups, pull ups, inverse body weight rows, dumbbell rows.
    • Core (abs and lower back) – planks, side planks, exercise ball crunches, mountain climbers, jumping knee tucks, hanging leg raises.
    Pick one exercise from each category above for a workout, and you’ll work almost every single muscle in your body. These are just a few examples for what you can do, but you really don’t need to make things more complicated than this.
    Add some variety – If you do the same routine, three days a week, for months and months both you and your muscles will get bored.  If you do bench presses on Monday, go with shoulder presses on Wednesday and dips on Friday.  Squats on Monday? Try lunges on Wednesday and box jumps on Friday.  Pick a different exercise each time and your muscles will stay excited (and so will you).
    Lastly, your muscles don’t get built in the gym, they get built when you’re resting. Give your muscles 48-72 hours to recover between workouts.  A Monday-Wednesday-Friday workout works well to ensure enough time to recover.

    How Many Sets Should I Do?

    Not including a warm-up set or two, I recommend doing between 3-5 sets per exercise.
    Keep your total workout number of sets for all exercises is in the 15-25 set range (5 or 6 exercises of four sets is a good start).  More than twenty five sets in a workout can either be overkill (doing more harm than good) or you’re not working yourself hard enough (boo inefficiency).

    How Many Repetitions Should I Do?

    If you’re looking to burn fat while building some muscle, keep your number of repetitions per set in the 8-15 range.  If you can do more than 15 without much of a challenge, it’s not difficult enough for you.  Add weight or change the exercise so that it’s tougher.
    If you’re looking to build size and strength, you should vary your rep ranges depending on the workout.  Although I’m currently following a variation of Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength (2nd edition) routine (heavy weight at five reps per set),  I’ll be switching to this type of routine in the next few weeks:
    • Low reps (5-8) and heavy weight on Mondays.
    • High reps (12-15) and lower weight on Wednesdays.
    • Medium reps (8-12) and medium weight on Fridays.
    If you can keep your muscles guessing by constantly forcing them to adapt to different routines, they’re more likely to get harder, better, faster, stronger.
    What’s the significance of the different number of repetitions?
    • Reps in the 1-5 range build super dense muscle and strength (calledmyofibrillar hypertrophy).
    • Reps in the 6-12 range build a somewhat equal amounts of muscular strength and muscular endurance.
    • Reps in the 12+ range build muscular endurance and size (this is calledsarcoplasmic hypertrophy).
    By doing rep ranges at each of these different increments, you’re building well-rounded, balanced muscles – full of endurance, explosive power, and strength.
    You can even mix up your amount of weight and reps within a single exercise.  Here’s an example of what I’d do for a dumbbell chest press on a Friday:
    • 12 reps at 65 pound dumbbells, rest 90 seconds.
    • 10 reps at 70 pound dumbbells, rest 90 seconds.
    • 8 reps at 75 pound dumbbells, rest 90 seconds.
    • 6 reps at 80 pound dumbbells, done!
    Always try to keep your muscles guessing, and you’re less likely to plateau (get stuck lifting the same amount of weight).

    How Long Should I Wait Between Sets?

    I purchased The Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises, which is a great book LOADED with exercises, tons of pictures, and routines.  They have a very basic formula for how long to wait between your sets based on how many reps you’re doing for the exercise:
    • 1-3 Reps: Rest for 3 to 5 minutes
    • 4-7 Reps: Rest for 2 to 3 minutes
    • 8-12 Reps: Rest for 1 to 2 minutes
    • 13 Reps+: Rest for 1 minute or less
    Now, pair this time between sets with how many reps you are doing.  If you mix up rep ranges on a daily basis, you need to mix up your rest time between sets too.  This is how you build well-rounded muscles, and a well-balanced body.  w00t.

    How Much Should I Lift?

    This one is easy: lift enough so that you can get through the set, but not too much that you have NO fuel left in the tank at the end.  How do you determine how much that is?  Trial and error.  When just starting out, or if you’re doing a new exercise for the first time, always err on the side of caution.
    Now, if you’re doing exercises with just your body weight, you need to find a way to make each exercise more difficult as you get in shape – once you get past 20 reps for a particular exercise and you’re not gassed, it’s time to mix things up.
    • Can you do 20 push ups no problem? It’s time to start mixing them up to be more challenging. 
    • 20 bodyweight squats too easy? Hold some weights high above your head as you do the next set.  Try one-squats.  Always be challenging yourself.

    How Long Should I Exercise?

    45 minutes to an hour.
    If you’re doing 15-25 sets of total exercise, you should be able to get everything done within that 45 minute block.  Now, factor in a five or ten minute warm-up, and then stretching afterwards, and the workout can go a little bit longer.  If you can go for over an hour and you’re not completely worn out, you’re simply not pushing yourself hard enough.
    Less time, more intensity, better results.
    What if you don’t have 45 minutes? Maybe you want to build some cardio into your weight training.  That’s where these next two sections come in.

    Alternating Sets

    Let’s say you’re doing four sets of squats and you plan on doing four sets of dumbbell bench presses after that.  If you wait two minutes between each set, this will take you around twenty minutes or so (factoring in the time to get set and actually do the set).
    Try this instead: Do a set of squats, wait one minute, then do a set of dumbbell presses, wait one minute, then do your next set of squats, and so on.
    Because you’re exercising two completely different muscle groups, you can exercise one while the other is “resting.”  You’re now getting the same workout done in half the time.  Also, because you’re resting less, your body has to work harder so your heart is getting a workout too.  Jackpot.
    Let’s see how this would play out in a sample workout:
    • Lunges alternating with incline dumbbell presses, four sets each, one minute between sets.
    • Wait a few minutes to catch your breath and get set for your next two exercises.
    • Straight leg deadlifts alternating with wide-grip pull ups, four sets each, one minute between sets.
    • 3 Sets of planks, stretch, and get the hell out of there!


    This is the most effective way to burn fat when exercising.
    This is also the most effective way to make you involuntarily swear at inanimate objects.
    A circuit requires you to do one set for EVERY exercise, one after the other, without stopping.  After you’ve done one set of each exercise in succession, you then repeat the process two, or three, or four more times. 
    Circuits get very tricky when in a gym, so make sure you’re doing them when it’s not crowded.

    Keep Track Of Everything

    Keep a workout journal! You should be getting stronger, faster, or more fit with each day of exercise.  Maybe you can lift more weight, lift the same amount of weight more times than before, or you can finish the same routine faster than before.
    Write everything down so that you can compare yourself against a previous workout.


    Okay, so I realize that’s a ridiculous amount of info, but it’s all very important stuff.  Let’s break it down into easy chunks right here:
    • ALWAYS warm up – 5-10 minutes on a bike, rowing machine, jumping jacks, run up and down your stairs, etc.
    • Pick one exercise for each big muscle group – quads, butt and hamstrings, push, pull, and core.
    • Do 3-5 sets for each exercise.
    • Determine how many reps and how long you’ll wait between sets for each exercise.
    • Mix it up! Vary your reps, sets, and exercises.  Keep it interesting.
    • Increase your efficiency and work your heart by doing alternating sets or circuits.
    • Keep your workout to under and hour.
    • Stretch AFTER your workout.
    • Write everything down.
    So how’d I do?  Good enough explanation?  Not enough detail?  Too Confusing? Way too long?

    Monday, 11 November 2013

    The Gastric Band May Not Be The Answer

    Anne Diamond admits for the first time how little she knew about gastric bands and how her operation went horribly wrong By ANNE DIAMOND

    Millions of overweight Britons are at risk of life-threatening disease. As a last resort, many are turning to gastric band surgery - on the NHS and, more often, privately. But do they understand what's involved? 
    TV presenter Anne Diamond knew little about the procedure when she had a gastric band fitted three years ago - with disastrous consequences. Here, in an extract from her new book, she reveals why she was so desperate to have the surgery, and warns anyone considering it to do their research thoroughly.
    Low point: Anne just before her gastric band surgery
    Low point: Anne just before her gastric band surgery

    Losing weight isn't rocket science, you know. All you have to do is eat less and exercise more. I am so fed up with self-righteous people telling me this - because that sort of advice has landed us with an obesity epidemic.

    It's not that it's incorrect. Of course it's right. We all know that energy in must equal energy out.

    But that's not helpful enough. Not nowadays.

    Not in a world where we all live more sedentary lifestyles and are encouraged, bribed and brainwashed into eating more food, and some of it absolute junk.

    Advertising has persuaded us over the years to think of branded junk food as a highly desirable luxury, as a treat we all deserve - and it is sold with all the sexualised, celebrity-endorsed razzmatazz they use to sell cars and holidays.

    Every 'real' expert I have met - and by that I mean clinicians, surgeons and scientists working at the front line of the Fat War, not self-styled slimming gurus on TV - is adamant that fat is no one's fault.

    It is marching, epidemic-like, across the globe like an unstoppable virus or plague. It is affecting almost a quarter of us who live the Western lifestyle. But it's the lifestyle that's at fault - not us personally. And fat really can happen to anyone.

    I tell that to the cocky young broadcasters who interview me nowadays about obesity. If they get too patronising, I remind them that once upon a time, my bum on the TV sofa was half the size of theirs.

    And once the fat loads on, it's hell's own game getting rid of it.

    Tried them all

    I have done every diet in the land - and yet, at the end of them, put on more weight. I wasted my 40s yoyo dieting and ended up with a worse problem than when I started.

    Heck, when I reached for my first diet, after baby number two or three, I was only about 10st and a generous(!) size 12. The costume lady at Pebble Mill, where we made Good Morning With Anne And Nick, was mildly annoyed with me because I was stretching the buttons on my trousers.

    Yet ten years later, and after a million wonder diets, I ended up at 15st 10lb. So much for diets.

    OK, I know I must have been doing something wrong, like eating too much of the wrong stuff and sitting in front of a computer screen all day, but let's face it - the diets didn't help me. In fact, I think they made things worse.

    And when you're that size, that's when a little bit inside you dies.

    That's when you stop venturing out as much as you used to. That's when you don't go swimming with the kids because the only swimsuit that fits you looks like something meteorologists use to make weather balloons.

    It's when you wake up most mornings dreading having to get dressed in clothes you hate, and you go to bed every night feeling a failure because you ate a Malteser.

    I was really, really miserable about my weight. Depressed, even. Not about life - but my weight.

    I got to the point where I thought nothing could be done. I was having the aches and pains generally suffered by the overweight. Niggling backaches, fat ankles at night, breathlessness... and I had high blood pressure.

    Anne has been trying various diets for years, but none have worked for her

    Was I going to develop diabetes? Would I keel over one day from a heart attack or stroke? Was I going to die younger than I should rightfully expect? Was I increasing my risk of cancer?

    I started to realise that this was not just about how I looked in the mirror, or even on TV. This was about my life.

    You cannot be a mother, wife, career woman - or in fact anything else at all - if your body is compromised.

    At my lowest point I started Googling phrases such as 'stomach stapling' and 'jaw wiring' to see if there really might be an extreme, physical solution.

    Trouble was, all that came up were hair-raising stories about extraordinarily obese people. You know, the ones who can't move, and they have to knock a wall down to get them out on a forklift truck to take them to hospital.

    Help wanted

    Surely, I thought, there must be something to help ordinary, run-of-the-mill fatties.

    People like me who were fairly normal in all other respects, and who weren't eating ten pizzas a day and being bed-bathed by an army of neighbours. And that's when I heard from a friend of a friend of a friend who'd had a gastric band fitted - and the weight was apparently cascading off her.

    Until then, I'd thought weight-loss surgery was something only weird Americans and Sharon Osbourne went in for. So I spoke to this friend of a friend of a friend and she was a sensible, sane, intelligent person. She was even a medical professional.

    I thought - well, if she thinks it's OK, then it must be. She suggested I go to Belgium, where I could have the operation much more cheaply than in Britain, where the hospitals have no MRSA, and where they speak perfect English.

    I could do the whole trip on Eurostar, so it would be quick, convenient and, I hoped, discreet.

    I must confess, I didn't do any more research. I can barely believe it now, but I wanted to keep the whole thing confidential.

    I rang the doctor direct, paid him and hopped on the Eurostar at Waterloo one cold autumn morning. I met him for the first time that afternoon. He could speak English quite well, but frankly, his staff and nurses couldn't speak English at all.

    I'm not criticising them. I don't speak a word of Flemish. But when you're having an operation, it's nice to be able to chit-chat, ask questions.

    Well, I never got the chance. It was just heads down and get on with it.

    Munching: Anne on Celebrity Big Brother after discussing her diet struggle with Melinda Messenger

    They weighed me, did some blood tests, measured me for elastic stockings to prevent DVT after surgery, and that was it. The next morning I did feel a bit scared, so I took out my laptop and wrote letters to my children.

    That was the wobbly time, when I thought: Has it really come to this? Am I such a dunce at dieting that I have come all this way, in secret, without even telling my family, to have elective surgery - to have a contraption put inside me to stop me eating too much?

    Before I could have a total collapse of nerve, the theatre trolley arrived. Then I was out like a light.

    After an uncomfortable night, I awoke the next morning feeling pretty good - and quite excited.

    When I got home, I stuck rigidly to the recommended 'baby food' diet because I'd just had a major operation and I was a little bit frightened. I was also becoming aware that I was hundreds of miles away from my surgeon, should I cause myself problems, such as getting a piece of food stuck.

    Nothing doing

    Four weeks later, though, and back on solids, eating didn't feel different. I felt as hungry as before, and when I ate, I couldn't feel any restriction.

    The days went by and still I hoped. But it was as though I had never had the operation. My weight stayed stubbornly the same. It was as though the band simply would not work.

    Only after weeks of Googling things did I find out that the band was adjustable and I should be going back to have what they call a 'fill'. This is where the surgeon injects some saline into the port to inflate the band and increase the restriction.

    My surgeon had not even mentioned it. So I rang him up. 'Ah, yes, you might need a fill,' he agreed pleasantly.

    So I found myself back on the Eurostar - staying again at a local hotel. Suddenly, the 'cheap option' of European surgery didn't seem quite so cheap.

    Next morning I experienced the mysterious fill. It's a surprisingly simple and quick process. The surgeon sticks a needle (quite painlessly) into the gastric band's port, just beneath your skin, and injects a little saline solution.

    You can feel the difference straight away. It feels a little like you're going to burp. Afterwards, I was asked to drink some water - just to make sure it wasn't too tight. When I managed that quite easily, he stopped.

    'Maybe I should put a little more in?' he asked. So in went the needle again, and he squeezed a little more saline into the port just underneath my skin. I drank again, and this time I could feel a restriction as the water went down. It took five minutes to drink a cup of water.

    At first, he was anxious that the band was too tight, but eventually he relaxed. 'I would not want to fill any more - this is very tight indeed.'

    Then he beamed enthusiastically. 'You will lose a lot of weight, I think!' I smiled, too. At last this thing was going to work.

    'Fifty euros, please,' he said. 'Very cheap. I'll take any currency.'

    Television time: Anne with co-presenter Nick Owen during her presenting hey-day

    Once I was home and eating normally, nothing happened. I went back for another fill. This time, he said, it was really tight - he wouldn't be able to get much more saline in.

    Yet back home there was still little change. I felt no fullness, zero satisfaction and only the tiniest hint of restriction. And please believe me, I really was not melting down Mars bars. I was eating healthily - pitta breads, tuna salads, fruit and veg.

    I'd gone all the way to Belgium, had all the worry, all the fear, all the expense of this operation and had nothing to show for it save a few little scars on my belly and a large hole in the bank balance.

    I was going to be a 60-year-old fat lady after all, which is what I dreaded.

    Scrimped-on surgery

    And that's when Celebrity Fit Club came along. Oh, horror of horrors. Even the mention of it makes me break out in a sweat.

    You might ask why did I agree to take part? Because it held out the last glimmer of hope for me. The producers promised me it was all about fun, togetherness and teamwork, and would give me unprecedented access to the top weight-loss experts in the world.

    On the other hand, I wondered, can I really stand on scales on public TV every Saturday night?

    Well, I thought, maybe that sort of public humiliation would be the kick up the butt I needed. So I agreed to do it. I didn't tell them I had a gastric band because by then it was irrelevant.

    If Fit Club taught me one thing it was that the majority of weight-loss experts are bullies, and believe that there is only one way to lose weight and get fit - and that's by suffering.

    So when I confessed to having a gastric band, which was, by the way, demonstrably not working, they pounced on me. I was even accused of cheating. Duh?

    I wasn't even losing weight. I was polite to Dale Winton when he rang to ask me to come back to the show. I shouldn't have been. I should have told him where to stuff his mobile phone.

    If I'd been low before my surgery, I was at rock bottom after escaping from Fit Club. I couldn't have coped without the support of family and friends.

    But then I got a call from an unexpected quarter: a private medical company in Britain that specialises in obesity surgery. They couldn't understand why my band wasn't working.

    An X-ray revealed the problem: my gastric band was in the wrong place. The surgeon, Shaw Somers (one of Britain's most experienced obesity surgeons), showed how my band had not been positioned around the top part of the stomach, as it should have been: it had been placed around the base of the oesophagus.

    It wasn't around the stomach at all. And it wasn't even stitched in place!

    'That's not where it's designed to go,' said Shaw, shaking his head. 'But I have seen this before, I'm afraid. I am getting a bit fed up with having to repair botched operations done in Europe on the cheap.'

    Making a choice

    I couldn't believe it. There it was, this wretched band, sitting in the wrong place. And I'd been through all this bloody misery - feeling a rotten failure, going through the hell of Celebrity Fit Club - because the darned Belgian surgeon had put the thing in the wrong place. Why did he do that?

    Well, apparently it's a much quicker and easier operation that allows them to do more ops per day.

    It seems some people do lose weight with it because the band may give them a feeling of restriction when they swallow.

    But the oesophagus isn't meant to take that sort of strain, and it must be painful. So they might be losing weight because it's painful to eat, and they might even develop a fear of food.

    So I had the operation all over again - this time in London. I had a surgeon I could talk to, nurses who were friendly, family and friends around me, and it was a positive experience.

    This time, when I ate I felt full quickly and I physically couldn't consume any more. The weight dropped off and I was thrilled.

    I reduced by a dress size a month and lost about 3st before my weight reached a plateau, and now I'm having to work hard to keep the momentum going. It's frustrating, but it's better than being 15st 10lb.

    There is so much I wish I had known before this whole adventure began. Obesity surgery is serious stuff, and you need to know all the facts.

    I'm not advocating it for all. In fact, I'm not advocating it for anyone. It is a personal choice, and a very private one, too. I can tell you only my experiences and what I know so that you are better informed than I was when I felt desperate enough to do it.

    The fact remains, no matter what the adverts suggest, a gastric band or a bypass cannot turn you into Catherine Zeta Jones and propel you to Hollywood and a nice rich husband.

    But it can help you lose the weight that's tying you down, compromising your health and your future. The rest you have to do for yourself.

    The Working Person's Diet Plan

    By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

    Dream job but nightmare figure? Then dietitian Juliette Kellow comes to the rescue with a diet plan designed to help working women – and men – lose weight with minimum effort and maximum results…
    Whether we work in an office, are constantly on the road or spend days in schools or hospitals, losing weight and working can be more than a challenge.
    Working life can have a serious impact on our waistline. Afternoon chocolate runs, business lunches, office biscuits and nearby vending machines can all pile on the pounds.
    Demanding bosses, impossible deadlines and an out-of-control workload can leave us feeling stressed and tired, with the result that we’re more likely to skip breakfast and/or lunch and grab high-calorie snack foods to cheer ourselves up and give us a much needed injection of energy.
    We can’t just blame what happens between 9am and 5pm for our need to lose weight either. Frequently heading to the pub or wine bar with colleagues after work to mull over the day’s problems with a few drinks can tot up the calories.
    And, after a hectic day at work, many of us simply don’t feel like spending time in the kitchen cooking a healthy dinner. The result: we resort to ready meals or order a takeaway and relax with a few glasses of wine. Meanwhile, lots of late nights in the office or simply being exhausted can mean we end up ditching our usual exercise and replacing it with slouching on the sofa in front of the TV.
    As for losing weight – well, when you’re working full time, it seems too much like hard work. Having to shop for weird and wonderful ingredients, making packed lunches and spending hours in the kitchen when you get home all add to your ‘to do’ list. Good news then that you don’t need to do any of these things to lose weight. And that’s where WLR comes to the rescue with an eating plan that’s designed specifically for people who work all day.
    All the breakfasts and lunches can either be bought or are ready in a matter of minutes. Plus, every dinner is ready from kitchen to table in less than 15 minutes. But the best bit – this plan should help you lose up to a stone in six weeks!

    Here’s why this diet is perfect for you if you work…

    √ You can grab breakfast or lunch on the run if you don’t have time to prepare something at home.
    √ You won’t need to spend hours preparing healthy meals when you get home from work – all our dinners are ready in less than 15 minutes.
    √ You can still enjoy the occasional office treat – whether it’s biscuits, chocolate or a piece of birthday cake.

    Here’s what to do…

    • Every day, make up your daily calorie allowance by choosing meals from the following list. You should always have one breakfast, lunch and dinner each day.
    • Use the treats and energy-boosting snacks to make up extra calories if you have a high daily calorie allowance.
    • As well as your meals and snacks, have an extra 275ml skimmed milk each day to drink on its own or to add to tea and coffee. Allow an extra 100 calories for this.
    • Add extra salad or veg to meals to help fill you up.


    Choose one each day

    • 1 small banana, 1 kiwi fruit and 1 pot fat-free natural yogurt. (195 calories)
    • 1 apple, a handful of grapes, 1 orange and 1 nectarine. (220 calories)
    • 2 slices wholemeal toast with 2tsp each of low-fat spread and honey. (240 calories)
    • 1 wholemeal fruit scone with 2tsp low-fat spread and a handful of grapes. (245 calories)
    • 6tbsp branflakes with 1tbsp raisins, raspberries and skimmed milk. (245 calories)
    • 3tbsp unsweetened muesli with skimmed milk and 1 apple. (250 calories)
    • 2 slices wholemeal toast with 2tsp peanut butter and 1 small banana. (285 calories)
    • 2 Weetabix with skimmed milk and strawberries, plus 1 small glass of orange juice. (285 calories)
    • 2 slices wholemeal toast with 2tsp each low-fat spread and marmalade, plus 1 nectarine. (290 calories)
    • 1 skinny latte, 1 reduced-sugar cereal bar and 1 small banana. (300 calories)


    Choose one a day

    In the office

    All these lunches take no more than a few minutes to prepare before you leave for work – or simply buy your lunch.
    • ½ carton fresh minestrone soup with 1 small wholemeal roll. Plus 1 orange. (285 calories)
    • Salad topped with 1 sliced skinless chicken breast and fat-free dressing and 1 wholemeal pitta. (300 calories)
    • 1 wholemeal pitta bread with half a 200g tub tzatziki, crudités and 1 nectarine. (310 calories)
    • 1 small wholemeal roll filled with 2tsp low-fat spread, 1 slice lean ham and salad. Plus 1 pot fat-free fruit yogurt and 1 small banana. (315 calories)
    • 4 oat crackers with 2tbsp low-fat soft cheese and salad. Plus 1 pot fat-free fruit yogurt. (315 calories)
    • Ready made sandwich, wrap, roll or salad (check the label for calories) and 1 apple (250 calories).
    • 1 small box sushi and 1 large tub ready made fruit salad (check the labels for calories)

    Out to lunch

    Combine a starter and main course to make up your calorie allowance
    • Large mixed salad – without dressing. (40 calories)
    • Smoked salmon with salad leaves. (80 calories)
    • Prawn cocktail – without the seafood dressing. (100 calories)
    • Bowl of vegetable, carrot or minestrone soup. (110 calories)
    • Rocket and parmesan salad – without dressing. (130 calories)
    • Grilled or roasted vegetables – without dressing. (150 calories)
    • Melon or figs with parma ham. (160 calories)
    • Tomato and mozzarella salad – without dressing. (190 calories) Main courses
    • Grilled fish with salad or vegetables. (250 calories)
    • Fish pie with vegetables. (350 calories)
    • Grilled skinless chicken breast with salad or vegetables (400 calories)
    • Starter sized portion of pasta with chicken or fish in a non-creamy sauce (400 calories)
    • Cottage pie with vegetables. (450 calories)
    • Grilled lean steak with salad. (500 calories)
    • Tuna nicoise salad – without the dressing. (500 calories)
    • Greek salad without the dressing and a small piece of bread. (500 calories)


    Choose one a day

    • Vegetable gnocchi made from ¼ pack (around 125g) fresh gnocchi, steamed veggies and ½ jar low-fat tomato sauce. Serve with 1tsp Parmesan and salad. (360 calories)
    • Chicken couscous made from 8tbsp couscous cooked according to the pack instructions, 4 sliced spring onions, lemon juice, black pepper, coriander and 1 small skinless chicken breast. Serve with salad. (390 calories)
    • 1 grilled lean loin lamb chop with 5 minted new potatoes, 1tsp low-fat spread, vegetables and 1tsp mint sauce. (395 calories)
    • 1 large jacket potato with half a 200g tub tzatziki and salad. (400 calories)
    • Omelette made using 1tsp sunflower oil, ½ small red onion, a handful of mushrooms, ½ red pepper, ½ green pepper, ½ courgette, 3 eggs, 1tbsp skimmed milk and 2tbsp grated reduced-fat Cheddar. Serve with salad. (415 calories)
    • Chicken stir fry made from 1 small skinless chicken breast, 1tsp sunflower oil, 1tsp Chinese five spice powder, 1 small bag ready-prepared stir-fry vegetables and a dash of reduced-salt soy sauce. Serve with 1 layer noodles. (475 calories)
    • Steak sandwich made from 150g grilled fillet steak, 15cm piece granary bread and salad. (525 calories)
    • 1 large jacket potato topped with creamy salmon made from ½ can pink salmon mixed with lemon juice, black pepper and 2tbsp crème fraiche. Plus 1 apple. (530 calories)
    • Tuna and sweetcorn pesto made from 175g cooked wholewheat pasta with 1tbsp pesto sauce, 1 chopped tomato, 2tbsp sweetcorn, ½ small can tuna in water and lightly steamed broccoli. Serve with 1tbsp grated Parmesan cheese and salad. (555 calories)
    • Beef fajitas made from 1tsp sunflower oil, 100g lean beef, 1tsp fajita seasoning, ½ sliced red and green pepper and 1 small red onion. Serve with 2 warmed flour tortillas, 1tbsp each of guacamole, grated reduced-fat Cheddar and salsa and salad. (655 calories)

    Energy-boosting snacks

    • Small pack of raspberries (20 calories)
    • 1 small pot low-fat fruit yogurt (60 calories)
    • 1 small banana (75 calories)
    • 1 slice wholemeal toast with 1tsp low-fat spread and a scrape of Marmite (95 calories)
    • 1 small pot fat-free fruit yogurt and 1 peach (110 calories)
    • 2 oatcakes with 2tbsp cottage cheese and 2 sliced tomatoes. (165 calories)
    • Third of a tub (about 100g) reduced-fat hummus and crudités (170 calories)
    • 1 wholemeal pitta filled with 1 slice lean ham and salad (175 calories)
    • 6tbsp branflakes with skimmed milk (190 calories)
    • ½ carton fresh bean soup (200 calories)


    • 1 small choc chip cookie (55 calories)
    • 1 single measures of spirits with slimline or diet mixers (50 calories)
    • 1 chocolate digestive biscuit (90 calories)
    • 1 small glass dry white or red wine or champagne (100 calories)
    • 1 small packet reduced-fat crisps or savoury snacks (about 100 calories)
    • 1 scoop reduced-fat ice cream (105 calories)
    • 1 jam doughnut (250 calories)
    • 1 small slice sponge cake (250 calories)
    • 1 small bar of chocolate (check label for calories)