Why is healthy eating important?

Louise Pyne finds out how ditching sugar and eating well could shave years off your looks

Sometimes, nothing beats the thrill of peeling open a chocolate bar and savouring every bite like it’s your last – but while your taste buds will thank you for the party, your body won’t. Sad, yes. Surprising? Not so much. What’s really hard to swallow is new research revealing that regularly riding the sugar rush not only adds inches to your waistline, but speeds up the ageing process, too.
The study by Leiden University Medical Centre and Unilever found that people with high blood glucose levels look older than those with lower levels. The scientists also found that every additional millimole of blood glucose per litre above the average added a whopping five months to facial features. And this was after common ageing factors such as smoking and sun-damage were taken into account.
The bitter truth

High blood glucose is usually caused by a diet packed with simple sugars, found in foods such as chocolate, biscuits, white bread and pasta, so it stands to reason that weaning yourself off your sweet habit and focusing on a healthy lifestyle just might be the secret to keeping skin smooth and supple. ‘Reducing the amount of the hormone insulin in your bloodstream could be the key to slowing ageing,’ says Patrick Holford, nutritionist and author of The 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing (£14.99, patrickholford.com).
Eating sugar causes insulin to surge into the bloodstream, helping your cells to absorb glucose and use it as energy. Over time, one too many sweet-toothed binges can make your body resistant to the effects of this blood sugar-balancing hormone. This leads to above-average levels circulating in the bloodstream, a factor linked to conditions such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and now premature ageing.
Written on your face

Regularly scoffing sugar can also damage the structure of collagen, the protein responsible for keeping skin supple. This process (glycation), results in substances known as AGEs (advanced glycation end-products). Too many of these inhibit your natural ability to produce and use antioxidants – the important nutrients that protect your cells from free-radical damage, which increases the likelihood of sagging skin and fine lines.
There’s no magic pill to make you look 10 years younger, but there is compelling evidence to show that cutting back on sugar ,can give you a beauty boost and help you remain healthy well into old age. We’re not saying that you should go cold turkey – after all, you’d be miserable without the occasional treat – but chomping down on the right foods 80 per cent of the time could take years off your looks and help your body fight an array of degenerative conditions and diseases, too.
Edible beauty

As the skin ages, it’s vital to ensure an optimal intake of antioxidant vitamins A and C, and essential fats. ‘Fatty fish such as salmon are high in vitamin A and essential fats,’ says Patrick. ‘Vitamin C is actually highest in broccoli and peppers, and the next-best source is berries. If you press your palm and the underlying colour is white or grey with no hint of yellow, you’re not getting enough beta-carotene from red, orange or yellow foods,’ he adds. ‘Eat more carrots, sweet potato or butternut squash.’
It’s not just our skin that starts to change with age. As we grow older our bones become more susceptible to wear and tear, so it’s important to chow down on strengthening minerals including calcium, magnesium and zinc, found in seeds such as chia, pumpkin and linseeds. Adequate amounts of vitamin D are also vital to fend off brittle bones and joint pain – so aim for at least 20 minutes of daily exposure to sunlight or pop a vitamin D supplement.
Ageing also makes it harder for your body to absorb certain nutrients such as vitamin B12, thought to be one of the major causes of dementia. ‘I’d recommend supplementing with 100mcg a day,’ advises Patrick. Folic acid is also an important vitamin that helps maintain muscle mass, so stock up on plenty of green veg, beans, nuts and seeds. ‘Finally, the B vitamins are essential for maintaining healthy levels of the amino acid called homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine have been linked to a raised risk of age-related cognitive decline,’ reveals Patrick. To counteract the effects, munch on wholegrains, meat and fish.
Menu makeover

These healthy meal ideas are packed with youth-boosting nutrients to help keep you looking gorgeous from top to toe.  Simply mix and match the meal ideas for glowing skin, a slimmer waistline and improved memory and concentration.
  • Porridge with blueberries, ground almonds, cinnamon and oat milk.
  • Rye bread with poached eggs (using omega-3 free range eggs)
  • Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon
  • Probiotic yoghurt with chia seeds with a handful of berries
  • My Get Up and Go! made with coconut milk and strawberries [shake?]
  • One pear with a handful of almonds and pumpkin seeds
  • Two oatcakes with houmous
  • Oatcakes with nut butter
  • Carrot or pepper sticks and cottage cheese
  • Sugar-free soya yoghurt with berries
  • Pumpkin and butternut squash soup
  • Chestnut and butter bean soup
  • Quinoa, veggie and cashew salad
  • Peppers stuffed with olives and feta cheese
  • Salmon and asparagus omelette
  • Lentil stew served with asparagus and broccoli
  • Sweet potato with salmon and green veg
  • Turkey mince chilli with a small portion of wholegrain rice and a green mixed salad
  • Stir fry made with bok choi, onions, peppers, bean sprouts, cashews, tofu, and broccoli served with quinoa and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds sprinkled
  • Tuna steak with bulghur wheat and beetroot salad
  • Steamed pear and blueberries served with crumble made with oats, pecans, almonds, 1 tablespoon of xylitol and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • Quinoa-flour pancakes with blueberries
  • Berries with Greek yogurt, grated coconut, cinnamon and ground pistachios
  • Dark chocolate and orange mousse pots
  • Baked apple with a drizzle of maple syrup
Stop sweet cravings

1 Cut down slowly rather than going cold turkey. If you take two sugars with your tea, reduce it to one before phasing it out completely
2 Eat little and often to keep blood sugar levels balanced
3 Allow yourself a couple of squares of dark chocolate when temptations strikes
4 Always read labels to avoid hidden sugars in pre-packaged food
5 Keep healthy snacks such as an apple and nuts in your handbag when you’re on the go
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Weight loss exercises for women

In a fitness rut? See more benefits from your gym sessions with these top tips from the experts.

We’ve all been there – endlessly slogging it out at the gym and not seeing the results we want. Getting stuck in a frustrating plateau can see your motivation and confidence take a dive.

But there’s no need to radically overhaul your regime – just by making a few minor adjustments to your existing workout, you can see your results soar. ‘When you’ve been training for a long time, you stop thinking about how you perform,’ explains A-list personal trainer David Kirsch. ‘But by pausing to refocus on the importance of those small details, such as good posture, positioning, technique and whether you’re making the most of your time, you can take your workouts to a new level. The key to success is to remember that the devil is in the detail.’

So are you ready to get down to the nitty-gritty? Read on to discover weight loss exercises for women.


‘It’s imperative you mix up your pace and distance during treadmill runs to increase running ability,’ says celebrity personal trainer and Asics running ambassador Nicki Waterman (www.asics.co.uk). ‘Mix interval training sessions with long runs and sprint work on different days. Just because you’re not running outside, doesn’t mean you can’t follow a running plan to provide training goals.’

Exercise Bike

‘If you train in the “fat-burning zones” advised by your bike, you’ll have to peddle at one speed and one intensity for at least 30 minutes to get a decent workout,’ advises Spinning instructor and Fitness First’s personal trainer of the year Kevin Hubble (www.kevinhubblefitness.co.uk). ‘Aim to work at 70–80 per cent of your maximum heart rate instead, and introduce interval training. Play with increasing the resistance and gradient, and speeding up your pace.’

Weight Training

‘Increase the intensity of your resistance workouts by lifting weights that are around 25 per cent heavier than you normally use,’ advises celebrity personal trainer Steve Barrett (www.stevebarrett.tv). ‘This will train your muscles harder and to exhaustion more quickly and shave valuable minutes off your training sessions. You’ll also have a completely different workout.’


‘If you rush your movements during a Pilates session, you’ll lack the control needed to execute moves properly,’ says Lynne Robinson, Pilates guru and co-founder of Body Control Pilates (www.bodycontrol.co.uk). ‘I’m not suggesting you slow every movement down, as some movements need to be done quickly, but I recommend you do everything with precision.’

Healthy eating plan for a week

Shape up in a week with this easy and delicious meal plan

Need to get in shape, quickly and safely? Here are our top pound-shifting tips and a simple meal plan that’ll get you slim and slender in no time.
  • To lose a few pounds and to stop your tummy from feeling and looking bloated, cut down on salt to help prevent fluid retention. That means eating freshly made meals rather than processed foods. Also, eliminate all sugar and refined carbohydrates, swapping to wholegrain alternatives, and no more sugary snacks!
  • Eat little and often, every three hours or so, to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable. Aim to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a healthy snack mid-morning and one mid-afternoon. This will stop those roller-coaster highs and cravings for sweet foods.
  • Eat plenty of lean protein (chicken, lean meat, fish and eggs) and add vegetables or salad to meals to boost your intake of fibre, vitamins and minerals. And aim to drink six to eight glasses of water a day, including diluted low-sugar fruit drinks, herbal teas or cups of tea. All the above will be beneficial in keeping your skin supple and hydrated, helping cellulite to look /less/ obvious.
  • Finally, if you know your self-discipline can waiver from time to time, keep a food diary to monitor your actions.
  • Now simply follow our three-week holiday countdown food planner, designed to get your body in tip-top shape for the summer season.
Day 1
BREAKFAST: Porridge made with semi-skimmed milk
LUNCH: Chicken salad in a wholemeal tortilla wrap
DINNER: Chicken tikka kebabs with green salad and natural yoghurt
Day 2
BREAKFAST: One boiled egg & soldiers, using one slice wholemeal toast
LUNCH: Fresh or tinned tuna and egg salad
DINNER: Stir-fry prawns and green pepper with 60g boiled Basmati rice
Day 3
BREAKFAST: Shredded Wheat with semi-skimmed milk
LUNCH: Cheese and mushroom omelette with green salad
DINNER: Sirloin steak with roasted veg (eg. peppers, onions, tomatoes, courgettes)
Day 4
BREAKFAST: Cooked fresh or tinned tomatoes on wholemeal toast
LUNCH: Crudités, low-fat houmous dip and one warmed wholemeal pitta bread cut into strips
DINNER: Homemade chicken curry with 60g boiled Basmati rice
Day 5
BREAKFAST: Fruit smoothie (blend your favourite fruit)
LUNCH: Bowl of soup with a small wholemeal roll
DINNER: Salmon fillet wrapped in foil with baby tomatoes and parsley, and bake for 30 mins. Serve with vegetables of your choice.
Day 6
BREAKFAST: Fresh fruit served with natural yoghurt
LUNCH: Wholemeal sandwich with flaked tinned salmon, low-fat mayo, lettuce and sliced cucumber
DINNER: Roasted chicken piece, sprinkled with olive oil & herbs, served with broccoli
Day 7
BREAKFAST: Scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast
LUNCH: Waldorf salad – made with apple, celery, walnuts and a green salad
DINNER: Lamb steak with green beans and a medium jacket potato
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7 day healthy eating plan

Follow our seven-day eating plan for a vital, more radiant you.

You’ve heard the phrase ‘beauty comes from within’? Well, it’s more than a well-worn adage. Scientists and skincare experts are discovering that we do have the ability to feed our skin from within. Read on to get your fill of healthy food, and you’ll feed your skin in the process!

Day 1:

BREAKFAST: Berries, yoghurt and pumpkin seeds.

Combine fresh blueberries and raspberries with 120g low-fat live natural yoghurt and some pumpkin seeds.

LUNCH: Grilled chicken and puy lentil salad

Top baby spinach with 50g cooled puy lentils, grated carrot, lemon juice and 100g free-range chicken.

DINNER: Roast salmon with roasted tomatoes

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Place the salmon and tomatoes on a baking tray and roast on the middle shelf for 10-12 minutes until the salmon is just cooked. Serve with basil pesto coated baby potatoes.

Day 2:

BREAKFAST: Coconut bircher muesli with mango

Mix 25ml coconut milk with 40g rolled oats, leave to soak and serve with 2tbsp low-fat live natural yoghurt, lime juice and 50g fresh mango.

LUNCH: King prawns with coriander pesto

Mix pesto ingredients in a blender: 30g cashew nuts, 10g coriander, garlic, chilli flakes, sesame oil and some lime juice. Serve with a wild rice salad: cook a blend of wild and brown rice (60g uncooked), mix with spring onions, blanched baby corn, mangetout, red and yellow pepper and some soy sauce and cooked peeled prawns.

DINNER: Marinated beef, chilli and green papaya and Asian coleslaw salad

Combine 100g unripe green papaya, 1tsp each of green chilli, fresh mint and coriander and lemon juice with 50g each of thinly sliced red and white cabbage. Pepper 100g rump steak and cook in oil. Slice thinly and serve with the papaya coleslaw and some rice noodles.

Day 3:

BREAKFAST: Smoked salmon and scrambled egg

Prepare 50g smoked salmon with one free range scrambled egg. Serve with roasted baby plum tomatoes, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of black pepper.

LUNCH: Roast chicken superfood salad

Mix salad ingredients: 40g quinoa, 15g alfalfa sprouts, 30g watercress, 30g mange tout and 80g broccoli. Thinly slice 80g skinless roast chicken and 80g roast baby beetroot on top and drizzle with lime juice.

DINNER: Barbecued tuna steak nicoise

Combine 100g green beans, 10g black olives, two ripe tomatoes, two anchovy fillets, 25g hard boiled quail eggs, seasonal salad leaves and 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Mix with a red wine and Dijon mustard dressing. Chargrill the red pepper, remove the skin and slice. Barbecue 100g yellow fin tuna steak and place on top of the salad.

Day 4:


Fresh blackberries, cinnamon spiced apples and live natural yoghurt

Peel and roast one apple with cinnamon (180ºC/gas mark 4) for 10 minutes, cool and mix it with organic, probiotic natural yoghurt, berries and cashew nuts.

LUNCH: Smoked mackerel salad with horseradish dressing

Flake a fillet of naturally smoked mackerel over a salad of mixed leaves, sliced peppers and halved cherry tomatoes. Combine the horseradish sauce with natural yoghurt and drizzle over the salad.

DINNER: Stuffed red pepper with goat’s cheese

Roast half a red pepper in a pre-heated oven (180ºC/gas mark 4) on the middle shelf for 10 minutes. Quarter a tomato and stuff into the pepper with a sliced garlic clove. Roast for 10 minutes. Place a slice of goat’s cheese on top and grill on a high heat until it’s bubbling. Serve with sautéed spinach and steamed green beans.

Day 5:

BREAKFAST: Watercress and cherry tomato omelette

Dry fry/roast a small handful of halved cherry tomatoes, add a little olive oil and add one beaten free-range egg loosened with a little milk/water. Add a handful of fresh watercress leaves and finish under the grill to make it soufflé.

LUNCH: Tiger prawns served with an orange and mint salsa

Stir fry 80g prawns and cook 40g brown rice. Mix the rice with chopped coriander and serve on a bed of rocket with 50g kidney beans and a juicy orange, apple and mint salsa. Add apple, orange, ginger and mint to a food processor and blend until it’s a smooth salsa.

DINNER: Balsamic rainbow trout

Pre-heat an oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Place the fillet of trout on a sheet of foil, drizzle 1tbsp balsamic over it and place a couple of basil leaves on top. Fold up the foil to make an envelope. Place on a baking sheet and roast for eight minutes until the trout is just cooked. Serve with flaked almonds, asparagus and roasted cherry tomatoes.

Day 6:

BREAKFAST: Strawberry and banana bircher muesli

Blend 40g each of strawberries and bananas with 120g live natural yoghurt. Stir in 30g oats and leave for 30 minutes. Serve with a couple of nuts on top.

LUNCH: Roasted vegetable and buffalo mozzarella salad

Roast a selection of vegetables (red onion, courgette, peppers and aubergine) in the middle of a pre-heated oven (200ºC, gas mark 6). Steam 80g baby potatoes
and mix with the roasted veg then top with pieces of buffalo mozzarella cheese (40g). Serve on a bed of rocket leaves with some balsamic vinegar.

DINNER: Fillet of beef and shitake noodles

Sear a small fillet of steak on a griddle and rest. Slice shitake mushrooms and sauté them lightly in a little soy sauce. Place thin rice noodles in a bowl and pour over boiling water. Leave until cooked. Serve the noodles on a bed of rocket, topped with the thinly sliced fillet steak, mushrooms and some chopped cashew nuts, chilli and coriander.

Day 7:

BREAKFAST: Grapefruit, rye bread and nut spread

Toast a couple of slices of rye bread. Thinly smooth a natural nut spread on top (we like Carleys Organic Rainforest Nut Butter, £3.89 for 170g, www.natural grocery.co.uk), and serve with 100g grapefruit pieces.

LUNCH: Tabbouleh salad with grilled chicken

Drizzle a free range chicken breast in lemon juice, season with black pepper and grill until cooked through. Rest. Wash half a cup of barley couscous, add half a cup of boiling water, cover and leave for 10 minutes. Cool slightly, mix with one and a half cups of chopped parsley, chopped tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, juice of half a lemon and olive oil. Slice the chicken and serve.

DINNER: Feta and pumpkin seed stuffed butternut squash

Halve a small butternut squash and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Place in a pre-heated oven (200ºC/gas mark 6) on a baking sheet for 30 minutes. Sauté an onion until soft, mix with a few sundried tomatoes, feta cheese, pumpkin seeds and basil. Place the mix into the centre of the cooked butternut. Pop in the oven for 10 minutes and serve with a mixed balsamic dressed salad.

Fat burning exercises for women

Looking for a natural and easy way to boost weight loss? Try green tea

Green tea isn’t hard to come by these days. Not only does pretty much every supermarket stock the stuff in abundance, but it also comes in a range of different flavours. But why has the healthy alternative to English tea risen to popularity so quickly?

Green tea is often hailed for its antioxidant content. It can, as a result, help to strengthen the immune system and overall health. But lots of people have started drinking green tea for its weight loss benefits, too. While caffeine is the main fat burning stimulant in green tea, the levels of it are much less than in coffee, yet still high enough to have a fat burning effect. This makes it a great choice for those who are trying to avoid coffee but still want the weight loss properties of caffeine.

Here are our favourite green teas to try.

  • Teapigs Green Tea with Mint

All the benefits of green tea with a refreshing, minty kick, too. Great for digestion.

  • Higher Living Green Tea Chai

Enjoy a spicy kick of cardomom, cinnamon and clove while sipping on your daily green tea.

  • Pukka Supreme Matcha Green

Boasting matcha powder for an extra potent dose of antioxidants.

Cycling for weight loss

Spin classes have never been cooler. Check out our pick of the best classes out there!

Spin classes are a great way to burn that excess fat! They’re high-intensity interval sessions, that use a good dose of resistance to really challenge your leg muscles – and they’re great fun, too. Check out some of our faves…

Cyclebeat Race your fellow spinners for pole position on the leader board in these awesome high-intensity classes at fantastic spin studio Cyclebeat – near Bank, London.

Lifescycle Scotland’s first dedicated indoor cycling and spinning studio has a fab ranges of classes for everyone from beginners to cycling veterans.

BOOM! Cycle These guys know how to party! Get your spin on to amazing nightclub tracks, as you hone and tone a hot bod by the light of the disco ball. boommybody.com

Psycle London These high intensity, low impact classes workout everything from your head to your toe. Plus the music and instructors are way, way cool. psyclelondon.com

Bloated stomach solutions

IM, Email, and Social Networks in one easy to use application!

Stop the bloat in time for your holiday with these slimming strategies

So, you’re on the quest for a flat tum in time for your two weeks lounging poolside? Here’s how to beat the bloat – just in time for that (virgin) mojito…

Little and often
Keep your meals small and regular. A big meal sitting in the stomach will produce a pot-bellied look even in the slimmest person, whereas eating little and often won’t overtax your digestive system, and is less likely to spoil your silhouette in that little black dress. But good news for baked bean-lovers – plant-breeding programmes have made these beans lower in raffinose, the sugar that causes wind.

Get in balance
An imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut can also cause bloating, so top up with a healthy probiotic yoghurt or drink. Take a little care at first, though, as sometimes probiotics can unsettle things digestion-wise, at least temporarily. If you’ve been overdoing refined carbs, swap to smaller portions of slower-releasing, low-GI types, such as porridge, grainy breads and wholewheat pasta. Swapping some of your carbs for monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) will also help (think nuts rather than pretzels, tahini instead of jam).

Flat tum foods Great flat-tum-friendly foods are potassium-rich fruit and veg, in particular bananas, beetroot and a daily glass of orange juice. Potassium works its magic by counteracting the water-retaining effects of excess sodium in the body. But you’ll also need to cut down on salty foods to maximise the stomach-flattening impact.

Drink less Our advice? Never drink on an empty stomach and go for spritzers or other lower-alcohol drinks to help keep your stomach trim. Instead drink plenty of water to aid digestion and flush out waste matter more efficiently.

Put down the chewing gum When we chew gum, we often swallow excess air which leads to bloating. Avoid it altogether where possible!

Avoid stress There’s a clear link between stress and digestive health. Why not go for a run to de-stress, or book in to that much-needed yoga class?

Circuit training

Want to work up a sweat, burn serious calories and get fitter? Try circuit training

Do you sometimes find yourself wandering aimlessly around the gym, using whatever kit’s free at the time and not sure what your next move will be? Adding some structure to your workout is the key to getting results, and setting up your own circuit-style workout at the gym could be good news for weight loss, increased fitness and getting stronger. Who doesn’t want that?

Circuit training consists of a group of various exercises that work different parts of the body. You perform a set (an allotted number of reps or as many reps as possible within a certain time frame) of each exercise back to back without rest or with very little rest. Once the first set of each exercise is performed through, you can either take a short rest and repeat the whole thing again, or skip the rest and go straight on to the second set of each exercise.

Keeping the rest periods short is an important aspect of circuit training. Why? Because it keeps the heart rate up, which helps to boost cardio and muscular endurance. It also creates an after burn effect which is essential for efficient fat loss. This way of working out just ticks all the boxes.

Need some help putting together a circuit? Try this simple routine after a warm-up of dynamic stretches:

30 seconds each of:




Bicycle crunches

Bent-over row


1 minute’s rest

Repeat 3-5 times depending on time constraints and ability level.

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Explosive fat burners

 Fancy your dream body, but don’t want to leave the house? Then look no further…

Think a trip to the gym is in order if you want a seriously blitzing workout? Think again. You can do this explosive, fat-burning workout at home. What’s more, it’s kit-free and super fast. These high-powered moves, known as plyometrics, are one of the most effective ways to burn calories, as they have the double-whammy effect of toning your muscles while raising your heart rate – great for getting fit, while zapping fat and blitzing trouble spots.

How to do it

To prevent injury, warm up with a few minutes of jogging on the spot and some functional movements, such as arm swings and hip circles. You should then do the following exercises in order, moving from one to the next with as little rest as you can. Once you have completed the entire circuit, rest for one minute, then repeat the sequence for a total of three circuits.

1. Explosive press-ups

Works: Chest, shoulders, arms, core

Reps: 12

Place a yoga or Pilates mat on the floor and start by getting into a plank position, with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your knees resting on the floor.

Lower yourself to the ground in a controlled manner, then explosively push up, so your hands leave the ground.

Land so your hands return back to the starting position, and repeat.

2. Low jumping jacks

Works: Glutes, hamstrings, calves and quads

Reps: 20

Start with your hands resting by your sides, your abdominals tight and your feet together.

Jump into the air, bringing your feet wide so you land in a wide squat position, with your knees and toes turning out. At the same time, raise your hands above your head.

Quickly jump your feet together to return to the start position.

3. Bunny hops

Works: Shoulders, back, abdominals, glutes, quads and hamstrings

Reps: 20

Using a mat, begin with your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart, and your legs bent and to the right side of your mat.

With your legs together, brace your core and glutes, then jump both legs into the air and land on the left side of your mat. Continue to jump from side to side as fast as you can.

4. Bicycles

Works: Abdominals and obliques

Reps: 16

Lie on a mat with your fingers resting behind your ears. Bring your knees in towards your chest and lift your shoulder blades off the floor without pulling on your neck.

Straighten your left leg out while simultaneously turning your upper body to the right, taking your left elbow towards your right knee.

Switch sides, bringing your right elbow towards your left knee and continue alternating sides in a pedalling motion.

Weight loss supplements

Stop! Before you spend your hard-earned cash on the latest supplements, read our expert Q&As.

Pop into any pharmacy, healthfood shop or supermarket and you’ll see shelves heaving with pills and potions designed to boost your weight loss. If you took them all you’d not only be broke, you’d rattle! So which supplements should you choose and how to take them for maximum benefit? We put your questions to nutrition experts to find out the best way to use supplements.

Can I overdose on supplements?

‘Some people worry that if they take a single-dose nutrient alongside a multinutrient formula they’ll take too much,’ says nutritionist Rob Clark. ‘But it’s highly unlikely. For a start, most formulas adhere to the recommended daily amounts (RDAs) which are the minimum needed to prevent deficiency, rather than the safe upper limit. Unless they contain particularly high doses, it’s highly unlikely you’d exceed this even by combining supplements.

‘Water-soluble vitamins, such as B and C, can’t be stored in the body, so any excess you consume will simply be flushed out. Pregnant women should avoid supplements containing vitamin A (stick to a pregnancy-specific formula) and anyone with blood-clotting issues (such as those on Warfarin or about to go into hospital for an operation) should avoid vitamin E as it thins the blood.’

If in doubt, check the safe upper limit of a nutrient (go to hsis.org) and compare it to your product labels. If you experience any unwanted symptoms while taking supplements, get them checked out by
your health practitioner.

I found a packet of supplements at the back of my cupboard but they’re past their sell-by date. Should I take them?

‘Liquid supplements are best thrown out as they may have a bacterial overgrowth,’ says Clark. ‘An out-of-date tablet or capsule is unlikely to do you damage but its potency may well have diminished, so you might not reap many benefits.’

What’s the best time of day to take my supplements?

‘Whenever you’re most likely to remember!’ says independent nutritionist Ian Marber (ianmarber.com). ‘I’ve never read any convincing evidence that nutrients are better used by the body at different times
of day. And for some people, it’s hard enough to remember to take them in the first place, let alone taking one with breakfast, another with lunch and more in the evening.

‘That said,’ he continues, ‘it makes sense if you’re taking something stimulating – such as a sports supplement containing green tea, say – you shouldn’t take it before bed. Likewise, a relaxant such as rhodiola or valerian, is one for your bedside table.’

Bone resorption (when bones break down minerals into the blood stream) peaks at night, so, according to experts at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Australia, taking calcium before bed and first thing in the morning can be beneficial for those women at risk of osteoperosis.