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Are You Making This Huge Weight Loss Mistake?

“Torch 3 300 Kilojoules in 60 minutes!” “Congratulations, you just burned 2 000 kilojoules !” For some women, few things are more motivating than leaving your bootcamp or hopping off of the treadmill knowing they just incinerated the kilojoule equivalent of a Big Mac.

However, paying too much attention to kilojoule-burn claims, whether on your treadmill display or health club’s website, can seriously sabotage your weight-loss progress. That’s because most fitness trackers, kilojoule counters, and estimates of kilojoules burned use ridiculously inaccurate methods for measuring kilojoule burns, often leading you to believe that you torched way more kilojoules than you actually did.

And if you don’t burn more kilojoules than you eat in a given day, you’re not going to lose. You might even gain.

READ MORE: The 4 Easiest Ways To Cut Kilojoules — Without Counting Them

Bad Math

For example, a new study published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine reveals popular fitness trackers, including the Apple Watch and MIO Alpha 2, can be significantly off in their kilojoule estimations as often as 93 percent of the time. Each fitness tracker utilises its own proprietary algorithm to calculate kilojoules burned, according to Stanford Medical Center, which doesn’t always jibe with the individual wearing it, researchers say.

That partly explains why your bootcamp is so far off on its “burn 2 000 kilojoules in 30 minutes” claim: Oftentimes, classes come up with kilojoule burns by simply having an instructor wear a fitness tracker during the class, Rebold says. “Then they take that information and use it to promote that exercise class they’re unfolding at their club,” he explains. Problem is, there are an insane number of intrinsic variables that will always impact how many kilojoules you burn during a given exercise, ranging from your sex, age, weight, to your muscle mass, says Church. In other words, you won’t burn the same number of kilojoules as your 6’2” male instructor. So don’t expect to.

Others classes, meanwhile, refer to average intensity rates from the 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities to estimate kilojoules burned during class, says Dr. Tim Church, professor of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University and chief medical officer of ACAP Health, a workplace wellness consulting firm.

However, when it comes to the number of kilojoules that you burn during any given class, exercise intensity is the greatest player. Take your average indoor cycling class as an example: If someone is on a bike pedalling at a faster pace or a higher resistance, they’re going to burn more kilojoules than someone who’s just going through the motions,” he explains. How intensely you’re able to pedal will depend not only on how fit you are, but also factors such as the sleep you got last night and what you ate for breakfast. So while average intensity rates will ring true for a small subset of class-goers, they are going to be ridiculously off for everyone who isn’t “average.”

So, odds are, you’re not burning the 3 300 kilojoules that exercise class advertised, says Dr. Michael Rebold, department chair of the integrative exercise science program and assistant professor of integrative exercise science at Hiram College in Ohio. In reality, you may burn anywhere from 2 500 kilojoules at the low end and 3 700 kilojoules at the high end, he adds.

Meanwhile, research shows that you can’t depend on those kilojoule counters on your favourite pieces of cardio equipment, either, according to ABC News. In one oft-cited experiment, University of California – San Francisco’s Human Performance Center pitted the kilojoule counters of four different cardio machines against a VO2 analyser. On average, the machines overestimated kilojoules burned by 19 percent. Among the four machines, the elliptical machine was the worst offender, overestimating kilojoules burned by 42 percent. So, for instance, it could say you burned 400 kilojoules when you actually only burned 240.

READ MORE: 5 Workouts That Burn More Kilojoules Than A Spin Class

Your No-Math Solution to Weight-Loss

In the end, however, the problem isn’t the kilojoule-burn totals in and of themselves—it’s using them to calculate exactly how many kilojoules you’ve “earned” or “worked off.”

After all, if you follow the whole, “I just burned 2 500 kilojoules, so now I can go out and eat 2 500 kilojoule,” you could easily end up gaining, not losing weight, Rebold says. The more your class, elliptical, or fitness tracker overestimated your kilojoule expenditure—and the more you depend on those numbers to determine what you do and don’t eat—the more you stand to sabotage your own efforts.

So instead of relying on a likely-inaccurate number to tell you how much you can eat, trust your body’s built-in kilojoule counter: your hunger cues, recommends Denver-based registered dietitian Kendra Glassman.

On a scale of one to 10, with one being absolutely starved and 10 being what Glassman calls “Christmas-dinner-full,” eat when you reach a three or four (you feel a tinge of hunger), and stop when you’re at a six (comfortably full).

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“I Cut Out Everything And Only Ate Protein — This Is What Happened”

This eating plan will blow your mind!

We’re easy to spot. We’re the ones with plastic beakers in our bags, empty save for a pile of powder at the bottom. Our freezers are jammed full of pre-portioned chicken breasts. And come mid-afternoon, we’re tucking in to our second hard-boiled egg of the day. It’s a diet once associated with bodybuilders and elite athletes. We’re neither. But we have earned ourselves a less comfortable moniker: “protorexics”. The term refers to those who rely on lots of protein while avoiding carbs to control weight and fuel workouts.

My obsession with the much-loved macro

Two years ago, after joining the gym in the hope of losing my stomach paunch, I began chugging on protein shakes at the behest of my PT. At first, I found that a pre-workout shake upped my stamina and killed my hunger. So I started subbing one in for breakfast.

Soon, as I became more interested in how protein could fuel my training – and the inevitable flip side: how carbs could be hindering my results – every meal became based around it. Eggs for breakfast, lunches involving packets of cooked chicken slices and the strict rule that at least half of my dinner plate was protein. An inevitable part of the process was that carbs were all but banished from my diet, bar the odd oat biscuit or Sunday roast.

READ MORE: “I Tried Drinking Plant-Based Protein Shakes After Every Workout”

I shrank from a size 14 to a 10 within six months and went from pull-up virgin to smashing six sets. No complaints. Except the good times don’t always last. Which is why, a couple of months ago, I ended up at the door of personal trainer and sports nutritionist David Arnot. I’d hit a fitness plateau and had gone, I suppose, looking for answers – armed with what I’d thought was my exemplary eating plan.

My eating plan

6:45am Protein bar
9:30am Handful pistachio nuts
10:30am Boiled egg with smoked salmon and spinach
11:30am Half a protein bar
12:30pm Tinned tuna, salad
2pm Half a protein bar
3:30pm Protein shake
4:30pm Greek yoghurt with protein powder
6:15pm Half a protein bar
7:30pm Grilled salmon with stir-fried veg
10:15pm Greek yoghurt with half a protein bar

READ MORE: 5 Foods You Won’t Believe Contain More Protein Than An Egg

My nutritionist’s verdict?

He’d never seen anyone with my sort of exercise regime eat as few carbs as I did. That was to blame for my lack of fitness gains. And he also pointed to a few other issues – my struggle to focus at work and generally being so knackered by the end of the day that I rarely have the energy or inclination to catch up with friends. When I revealed that each evening my husband cooks two different meals – a regular version for him, a carb-free version for me – Arnot began to shake his head.

He broke down the stats for me: by the time I flop into bed, I’ve consumed more than 150g of the magical macro, which means I’m getting through about 2.5g per kilogram of my body weight.

READ MORE: 3 Signs You Need To Incorporate More Cabs In Your Diet

According to Dr Duane Mellor of the British Dietetic Association, that’s far too much: “We advise adults to eat around 0.75g per kilogram of body weight daily to get the necessary benefits of protein, which includes building lean muscle mass, aiding digestion, regulating nutrient absorption and removal of waste.”

Arguably, I could get away with totting up a little more than this as I clock up between five and seven workouts a week, but I’m still way over the mark. Sports and exercise nutritionist James Collins recommends aiming for something between 1.2g and 1.6g per kilogram of body weight, but warns an intake of more than 2g can do more harm than good. (Think: hormonal imbalances, high cholesterol, exacerbation of existing kidney problems, chronic dehydration, weight gain…)

READ MORE: “I Tried HIIT Training For 3 Months – This Is What I Learnt”

Arnot’s proposed eating plan

8:30am Porridge with low-fat milk
10:30am Apple, handful cashews
12:30pm Chicken with ratatouille and 125g brown rice
2pm Biltong or 1 protein bar
7:30pm Red meat/fish with green veg and sweet potato
10:15pm Handful granola, yoghurt, honey and berries

The last word…

“Nobody’s denying how important protein is,” Arnot says. “But the message has become misunderstood and carbs have become demonised in the process. So I see lots of carb-phobic women eating so much more protein than is necessary. What they often don’t realise is that kilojoules from protein aren’t used as efficiently for energy as kilojoules from carbs because they can’t be oxidised quickly enough to meet the demands of high-intensity exercise. The fixation on pre- and post-training protein means many aren’t getting the most out of their workouts.” Arnot agreed to devise a personalised 10-day eating plan for me to follow without leading me into a kilojoule surplus. Meaning? More carbs, less protein equals more energy, no weight gain. I’ll eat to that.

This 4-Minute Workout Will Burn Fat Like Crazy!

Rev your metabolism to burn fat long after you’ve left the gym with this high-intensity workout. All it takes is four minutes .

Tabata training is the hipster of the fitness world. Pioneered by Dr Izumi Tabata, it had athletes doing high-intensity intervals long before they were cool. How it works is simple: You do 20 seconds of all-out effort, then rest for 10 seconds. You repeat this pattern eight times, which takes you to four minutes. Then you find a quiet corner to curl up and cry because it is that intense.

Burn Fat Like A Furnace

Since Izumi Tabata first published his findings back in the mid-90s, numerous studies have confirmed that Tabata’s super-short, intense workouts improve cardio fitness and help you burn fat by revving your metabolism for hours after you leave the gym. In fact,  test subjects following the Tabata Protocol consistently get better cardio fitness gains than control groups doing steady-state cardio. But don’t try and train like this every day – your body needs time to recover from working so intensely, so two or three times a week max.

How It Works

While the treadmill or stationary bike are obvious choices, you can use Tabata Protocol with any exercise that lends itself to intense repetitions. The trick is you have to go all out for those 20 seconds – no holding back. “This is HIT, high-intensity training – there’s no second ‘I’ in there, you don’t get rest intervals,” says Ceri Hannan, national product development manager at Virgin Active. We tested this Tabata bodyweight circuit as part of Virgin Active’s Grid Test class. The exercises are based on the seven primal movement patterns for humans, so you’re not only getting a killer cardio workout, you’re also

Do It

You’ll need: A timer, a TRX suspension trainer or low bar, a box, a grid marked out on the floor (about 2m x 1.5m). Set up all your equipment in advance, so you can move between stations quickly.

Do the exercises in order. For each exercise, do as many reps as you can for 20 seconds. You then have 10 seconds to get to the next station and in position. Once you’ve completed all exercises, you’re done – literally and figuratively! Count your reps and try to do more next time.

Your Moves

1 Bodyweight Row

Hold the bar or handles of the TRX with an overhand grip, palms down, arms extended. Tighten your tummy and bum cheeks to keep your body in a straight line and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull your chest to your hands. That’s one rep. TIP: Use a rowing machine instead and count calories burnt as your score.

2 Hand Release Push-Ups

Get in the top of a push-up position, hands in line with your shoulders, tummy and bum cheeks tight. Lower your chest all the way to the floor and briefly lift your hands. Push back up to start, keeping that body straight. That’s one rep.

3 Grid Corners

Starting in one corner of your grid, sprint to the diagonally opposite corner and touch the ground. That’s one rep. Continue sprinting between corners.

4 Box Jumps

Stand in front of a box that’s about knee height. Lower into a half squat and swing your arms for momentum as you jump, landing with both feet simultaneously on the box. Drop into a squat as you land, then immediately stand up in a full extension. Step back to start.

5 Hand-Release Burpees

From standing, squat down and put your hands on the floor, then jump or step your feet back into push-up position. Lower your chest to the floor, briefly release your hands, then reverse the movement back to start. That’s one rep. Aim for a fluid, continuous movement.

6 Grid Sprints

Standing on one line of your grid, sprint across the opposite line, then jog backwards across the line you started on. That’s one rep.

7 Split Squats

With hands on your hips or holding weights at your sides, take a big step forward with one leg. Keeping your tummy tight and torso upright, bend your knees to lower your body until your back knee touches the ground. Push back to start. That’s one rep. After 10 seconds, swap legs.

8 180-Degree Jumps

Straddle one line of your grid. Jump up, twisting in the air so you land facing backwards. That’s one rep. Reverse the movement back to start.

11 Small Daily Habits That’ll Seriously Speed Up Your Metabolism

These easy actions ensure you’ll burn fat 24/7…

1. When You First Wake Up

Eating breakfast helps jump-start your metabolism – especially if you do it within one hour of waking up. “Your metabolism went into rest mode over night, so your first meal of the day revs it up again,” says Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet. To work the kick-start effect to the max, choose foods high in fibre and protein, like whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk and berries.

2. During Your Commute

Parking further away from your office may sound like a small step, but it can actually boost your metabolism in a big way because it forces you to move more. “Getting your heart rate up for a short period of time keeps it elevated afterward, which boosts your metabolism overall,” says Doug Barsanti, a strength and conditioning specialist. Another good idea? Take the stairs to get to your floor.

3. When You First Get to the Office

Go ahead and grab a cup of coffee. Research shows that caffeine boosts your metabolic rate, albeit mildly, says David Katz, author of Disease Proof. Just watch all the caramel-cream-whatever concoctions – those are so sugary that they’ll negate coffee’s benefits.

4. At Work

We hereby grant you permission to schmooze with your colleagues – as long as you don’t do it over Whatsapp. “Moving more at every opportunity, even if it’s just to get up to go to the bathroom, keeps your heart rate going and therefore boosts your metabolism,” says fitness instructor Shirley Archer. Try walking across the office to talk to colleagues rather than emailing them.

5. When You’re Buying Lunch

Pick the right foods and you’ll stoke your metabolism. “Nothing beats a chicken sandwich on whole-grain bread with lettuce, tomato and mustard and a piece of fruit on the side,” says Gans. “The protein-carb combo will give you energy to get through your day without dragging.”

6. At the Water Cooler

When it comes to water, colder is better. “Your body burns more kilojoules in colder temperatures because it has to work harder to keep you warm – so by drinking cold water, you end up burning more than if you guzzled room-temp H20,” says evolutionary biologist Lisa Gain. (Sadly, the same does not hold true for ice cream, which is too high-kilojoule to get the effect.)

7. During Your Workout

It’s all too easy to get into a cardio routine and stay at the same pace for your entire workout, but don’t! Intervals are your friend, says Barsanti. “Short, high-intensity exercise boosts your metabolism. So when you’re on the treadmill or elliptical, sprint for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds, and repeat this pattern for 10 minutes.” Pro tip: Make a playlist with fast and slow songs to help you vary your rhythm without even thinking about it.

8. Post-Workout

Good news for chocolate lovers! Drinking chocolate milk post-workout helps keep your metabolism going strong. “When you exercise, your body loses glucose,” says Gans. “You need to restore it right away to keep your metabolism on track.” Chocolate milk is ideal because it has the perfect combo of carbs and protein. Sweet.

9. At Dinner

Some studies suggest that eating spicy foods may boost your metabolism – so top your meals with chilli peppers and Tabasco. Bonus: Spices are naturally fat-free, so there’s no need to stress about kilojoule counts.

10. In the Evening

Take a minute to relax and your metabolism will thank you. Why? “When you get stressed, your body releases cortisol, and too much cortisol slows down your metabolism,” says Archer. To prevent this, do whatever relaxes you most, like yoga, talking to a soothing friend or meditating.

11. At Bedtime

Sleep is key to boosting your metabolism. “Your body needs it to fully restore and recover from the day and keep your muscle mass and hormones circulating properly,” says Archer. Aim for seven to eight hours a night to keep your metabolism in tip-top shape.

The Best Way To Lose Weight When You Just Love Food Too Much

You want a flat belly. But that little monkey on your back wanting to nibble is the size of an orangutan and actually wants something substantial, even naughty. And it won’t let up. Luckily, you don’t have to munch celery for a flatter tum… Just use these hacks instead.

Love Food And Feel Like: A Burger

The hack: Swap your white bun for mixed grain for a hunger-fighting dose of fibre. Instead of tomato sauce, opt for a slice of tomato. No need to bypass cheese – just go for a low-fat variety of Swiss. Your meat? Switch from a lean to an extra-lean beef patty. You’ll never know the difference. Total saving: 677kJ.

READ MORE: Can You Eat Peanut Butter Every Day And Still Lose Weight?

You Feel Like: Pasta

The hack: “Use wholewheat pasta more often,” says dietician Dr Celeste Naudé. When eating out, opt for primavera. It has a selection of vegetables and is a fresh option that packs plenty of fibre, flavour and nutrients. “Alternatively, have a marinara made with chunky Italian tomatoes, fresh garlic and herbs. Be sure to get Parmesan on the side and only add a teaspoon or two, or ask for some fresh basil to be added for a flavour and folate boost,” advises Naudé.

READ MORE: 5 Best Alcohols To Drink When You’re Trying To Lose Weight And Stay Healthy

You Feel Like: Chocolate

The hack: To keep your waistline in check, limit yourself to 30g of dark chocolate per day, but don’t give it up entirely. People who enjoy a treat a few times a week actually have a lower body-mass index (BMI) than those who indulge less often, reports the Archives of Internal Medicine. Antioxidants (called epicatechins) – and caffeine – in cocoa may rev metabolism, partially offsetting the kilojoules in the choccy, say researchers.

READ MORE: Exactly How To Use Eggs To Lose That Extra Weight

You Feel Like: Chips

The hack: Baked potato topped with a dollop of plain Greek yoghurt. Potatoes, it turns out, are not the worst food for your waistline. “They’re vegetables and, in addition to being a great source of potassium and vitamin C, they’re high in fibre, which makes them a much healthier alternative to other comfort foods, like biscuits,” says dietician Bonnie Taub- Dix, author of Read It Before You Eat It.

Exactly How To Use Eggs To Lose That Extra Weight

Research has found that eggs are literally the new ‘superfood’. Here’s the double whammy: not only do they boost health, but they’ve even been found to help fight obesity.

Superstars Of The Food Pyramid

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Science reveals that eggs are the most nutrient-dense foods and we should be eating an ‘egg a day’ to benefit from its nutritional benefits.

Eggs also fight age-related muscular degeneration, because they’re high in antioxidants.

READ MORE: 5 Foods You Won’t Believe Contain More Protein Than An Egg

Dieticians have been saying that one can eat an egg a day and it won’t have an effect on cholesterol. This was proved by research which was conducted over a 30-year period – the study showed that there was no link between eating eggs and the increased risk of heart disease or a rise in cholesterol.

New studies show that saturated fats have the potential to raise cholesterol, not cholesterol-rich foods. The American and UK Heart foundations have subsequently changed their recommendations with regards to eggs. Eggs have high levels of vitamin D, B12, selenium and choline and they contain the richest mix of amino acids.

What About Weight Management?

Eggs are low in kilojoules, with a medium egg containing less than 335kJ (which is less than a small packet of chips).

READ MORE: “I Cut Out Everything And Only Ate Protein – This Is What Happened”

A study showed that eating two scrambled eggs for breakfast contributed to greater satiety (feeling of fullness), which reduced total kilojoule intake for up to 36 hours. One trial showed that substituting eggs for bagels for breakfast, in combination with a low-kilojoule diet, significantly lowered weight over a 60-day period. Bonus: the trial also showed no effect on cholesterol.

What does this mean? Include eggs, as above, in your daily weight management plan and benefit from this ‘superfood’.

Check out these 5 weird signs that you need to eat more protein. Plus: 10 power breakfast recipes every active girl needs in her life.

5 Ways To Switch Up Your Workout Routine To Lose More Weight

You’ve been working out a ton and are convinced this is going to be the week that the number on the scale is finally where you want it to be. And then… nope. Womp womp.

Put away that sad trombone — with a few simple changes to your normal routine, you can finally start to see results. In fact, changing it up is basically the secret sauce for making progress — whether you want to lose weight or just get strong AF.

“Your body adapts to your workout, so it’s important to tweak your normal routine so you continue to get the most out of it,” explains strength and conditioning specialist Noam Tamir. Here, some of his favourite ways to switch up your workout if your goal is weight loss.

1. Warm Up (But Really Tho) For Weight Loss

If you jump into your workout without prepping your body first, well, you’re a normal human being. But you won’t be able to perform as optimally (read: burn as many kilojoules), says Tamir — that’s why it’s crucial to begin with a good warm-up.

“Start with a couple of mobility moves, like hip-opener drills, ankle drills, leg swings and neck nods,” recommends Tamir. “All of these will help get the synovial fluid — the fluid inside of your joints — moving, which will help with your mobility overall.”

He also recommends paying some attention to your glutes, which are the biggest muscle in your body — and should be activated before any workout for max results. His activation moves of choice: single-leg bridges, lateral band walks and deadbugs. “If you do just a couple of these moves before you begin, your workout will be much more effective.”

2. Work Interval Training Into Your Cardio Routine

“Interval training helps you burn more kilojoules than you do when you’re exercising in a steady state,” explains Tamir. So if you’re a treadmill junkie, sprint for 30 seconds and then walk for 30 — and keep alternating that routine. You can try a similar technique on a bike or an elliptical — basically while doing any form of cardio. “You’ll be working harder when you’re going faster, which will spike your heart rate, and ultimately help you get more from your workout overall,” says Tamir.

READ MORE: Here’s The Super-Simple Way To Count Kilojoules For Weight Loss

3. Focus On Compound Movements

Many of the machines at the gym target one specific muscle group, but if you’re focused on weight loss, your best bet for weight training is to opt for moves that use multiple muscle groups at once. “An example of this would be a squat versus a leg-extension machine,” explains Tamir. “You’re using more muscles overall, which ultimately means you’ll end up burning more kilojoules.”

4. Lift More Weight

Because — you guessed it — you’ll end up burning more kilojoules.“For your upper body, try increasing the weight you’re using by five to 10 percent each week,” says Tamir. “And for your lower body, increase the weight by 10 to 15 percent each week.”

So if you’re lifting five kilos, try increasing the weight by about about half a kilo for your upper body, and about one kilogram for your lower body (depending on the weights you have; it doesn’t have to be exact).

And if you currently do only bodyweight stuff, start using weights. “The key is to choose a weight where you’ll still be able to do your moves with clean form.” (Because going too big and getting injured definitely won’t help you get in better shape.)

READ MORE: 5 Weight Loss Rules From Nutritionists That You Should Break

5. Refuel And Rehydrate

“If you don’t do this, your body won’t get the optimal muscle gain from your workout, which will limit the amount of kilojoules you burn in the long run,” says Tami. In addition to drinking lots of water, he recommends having protein post-workout — something like chocolate milk is great.

5 Weight Loss Rules From Nutritionists That You Should Break

Most of the time, nutritionists are full of brilliant ideas that help you eat healthier, stay slimmer, and live longer. But every once in a while, food gurus forget that the rest of us have limited time, funds, and willpower. So we collected seven of the hardest-to-swallow expert suggestions and replaced them with equally healthy tips that a normal person can actually use.

The advice: Chug eight glasses of water a day

Why it’s useless: Peeing every 20 minutes seriously interferes with life.
The real deal: Believe it or not, the eight-glass quota isn’t etched in stone. Yes, we need to be well-hydrated, but if your urine is clear or close to it, you’re probably getting enough fluids. If it’s neon yellow, lighten things up by adding one or two glasses a day. Once your body adjusts to getting more fluid, add another, says dietician Karen Benzinger. And don’t forget that all liquids – including tea, juice, even the tonic in your vodka drink – help keep your body sufficiently saturated.

The advice: Don’t drink juice – it’s a sugar bomb

Why it’s useless: Juice is a breakfast staple, and it’s essential for smoothies.
The real deal: There’s a big difference between 100 percent juice and a bottle of sugar water with a few cranberries squeezed into it. Yes, juice has a lot of the sweet stuff, but a 150ml glass of 100 percent juice also counts as a full serving of fruit and delivers many of the same vitamins and antioxidants, making it worth the occasional sugar rush. As long as you drink 100 percent juice (from concentrate is fine) and limit yourself to one 150ml to 250ml glass a day, you’re not breaking any rules of good nutrition.

The advice: Shut the kitchen down after 7pm to prevent weight gain

Why it’s useless: After a long day at the office and a trip to the gym, you either eat dinner at 9.30pm or starve.
The real deal: The no-food-right-before-bed rule was meant for the night-time nosher who mindlessly munches on Ouma rusks while watching CSI: Miami. If you get home long after dark, a late dinner is perfectly fine. But do keep your evening meal light – along the lines of a chicken breast, steamed broccoli and brown rice. Too much chow will keep you up at night: to break down all that food, your stomach has to churn like a cement truck.

The advice: Put half your entrée in a takeaway box before you start to eat

Why it’s useless: You know you have portion-control issues, but that doesn’t mean you want everyone else at your table to know it too.
The real deal: A better way to cut back on restaurant binging is to pretend the breadbasket is sprinkled with cyanide and to double up on veggie sides instead of ordering chips. Also effective: putting your fork down between bites, which gives your stomach and brain time to register that you’re full (which takes about 20 minutes).

The advice: Have just one bite of dessert

Why it’s useless: That’s like telling an addict to have just a little crack.
The real deal: There’s nothing right about eating malva pudding, so just revel in how deliciously wrong it is. A smarter strategy: before you begin the debauchery, plan for the extra kilojoules – skip the appetizer, the bread, or (ouch) the booze. “If the dessert is really that good, it’s worth the sacrifice,” Benzinger says.

10 Power Breakfast Recipes Every Active Girl Needs In Her Life

Even if you’re one of those disgustingly lucky morning people – the kind who never seem to suffer a second of cranky, whiny, leave-me-the-hell-alone grogginess – a healthy breakfast can do a lot to prep you for the day ahead. Studies show that filling up before you leave the house can reduce your risk of heart attack, help keep you slim and increase your brainpower. To boost the benefits of breakfast even more, we created 10 recipes using ingredients proven to soothe or prevent common health complaints. Every one is easy to make and take with you, and they all taste delicious going down.

1. The PMS tamer

If your cycle is cramping your style, whip up this breakfast sandwich. Vitamin B6 combined with magnesium – both found in salmon and avocado – relieves monthly mood swings. And eating fish and cheese helps replenish vitamin D and calcium, which your period can deplete. Finally, according to the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, a high-fibre diet eases PMS by expelling excess oestrogen.

— 2 slices multigrain bread, toasted
— 1 tbsp low-fat creamed cottage cheese
— 1/4 avocado
— 28g (about one large piece) smoked salmon
— Freshly ground black pepper
— Small handful bean sprouts or one leaf iceberg lettuce

1/ On one slice of toasted bread, spread cheese and layer avocado and fish.
2/ Finish with pepper and sprouts. Place second piece of bread on top.

Per serving: 1 839kJ, 18g fat (2.5g sat), 460mg sodium, 47g carbs, 9g fibre, 7g sugars, 30g protein

READ MORE: 3 Protein-Packed Breakfasts That Totally Taste Like Dessert

2. The anxiety soother

Big days spark big worries. But British researchers found that food containing tryptophan, the amino acid found in dairy and oats (yup, the one that’s known for inducing naps), reduces anxiety by boosting the feel-good hormone serotonin. The carbohydrates in this sandwich’s bread will also help soothe frazzled nerves, experts say.

— 2 slices oat and honey bread (Sasko makes a low-GI variety)
— 1/2 ripe tomato
— 1 slice low-fat Emmental cheese
— 1 leaf romaine lettuce
— 1/ Slice tomato while bread is toasting.
— 2/ Layer cheese, tomato and lettuce between bread.

Per serving: 1 379kJ, 11g fat (5g sat), 440mg sodium, 46g carbs, 5g fibre, 9g sugars, 18g protein

3. The mood lifter

Don’t self-medicate with chocolate brownies when you’re down – opt for this healthy comfort food (which will also satisfy a sweet tooth), featuring walnuts with omega-3s and yoghurt with vitamin B12. The University of Pittsburgh
Medical School recently reported a link between omega-3 fatty acids and improved mood, while Finnish researchers found that B12 helped depression patients recover faster.

— 1 pear
— 1/2 cup Greek-style yoghurt
— 3 tbsp walnuts, roughly chopped
— 1. tbsp pitted dates, finely chopped (optional)
— 1 tbsp honey
— 1/ Chop or slice the pear, top with yoghurt, then the walnuts, dates (if using) and honey.

Per serving: 1 756kJ, 17g fat (3g sat), 35mg sodium, 64g carbs, 8g fibre, 48g sugars, 13g protein

READ MORE: Are You Making This Breakfast Mistake?

4. The sniffle stopper

To keep that bug from bringing you down, try this oat dish. The apple skins contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that researchers in India found protects lungs from influenza. The selenium from instant oats boosts the immune system by increasing flu-fighting macrophages, and the zinc in nuts has been proven to help curb a cold’s development. Finally, drink that orange juice – multiple studies confirm that good old immune-boosting vitamin C will help keep you above the weather.

— 1 small apple, cored and chopped, skin intact
— 1/4 cup orange juice
— 1 packet instant oats
— 1 tbsp almonds, chopped and toasted
— Cinnamon

1/ Place apple and juice in a small saucepan and simmer on medium-low until fruit is soft (about 10 minutes).
2/ Meanwhile, prepare oats.
3/ Spoon fruit mixture over oats and sprinkle with nuts and cinnamon.

Per serving: 1 087kJ, 7g fat (0g sat), 80mg sodium, 48g carbs, 8g fibre, 23g sugars, 6g protein

5. The heart saver

This fibre-rich cereal will keep your ticker kicking and your stomach happy. Just remember to drink lots of water with and after your meal – staying hydrated helps your body process the fibre. Warning: this breakfast has almost all the fibre you need for the day. So if you’re new to the bran game, skip the raspberries at first, then add them later as your body adjusts.

— 1/2 cup high-fibre bran cereal
— 1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
— 1 cup plain organic yoghurt (contains more fibre than milk)
— 1/ Pour cereal in a large plastic cup and top with fruit and yoghurt.

Per serving: 1 296kJ, 1g fat (0g sat), 320mg sodium, 67g carbs, 25g fibre, 12g protein

READ MORE: 6 Oat Recipes That’ll Kickstart Your Day!

6. The metabolism starter

Antioxidants in green tea may give your digestive fires a boost by increasing the speed at which fat is burnt, according to the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition. Spicy chillies from the capsaicin family, such as jalapeños and serranos, can perform similar feats, Japanese researchers say.

— 1 English muffin, split and toasted
— 1 tbsp canola oil
— 2 medium eggs
— 1/4 cup tightly packed baby spinach leaves, stalks removed
— Salt and pepper to taste
— Chilli sauce
— 1 cup green tea

1/ While muffin is toasting and teapot boiling, heat oil in a small pan.
2/ In a bowl, whisk the eggs, then add spinach, salt and pepper. Pour contents into pan and scramble gently until the eggs are set and the spinach wilted.
3/ Place eggs on muffin and douse with as much chilli sauce as you can handle!
4/ Wrap sandwich in foil, put tea in thermos and go.

Per serving: 1 505kJ, 15g fat (3g sat), 1 510mg sodium, 39g carbs, 6g fibre, 19g protein

7. The muscle maker

Pushed it a little too hard in spinning class and now regretting it? US researchers found that vitamin E – in nuts, apricots and oats – helps speed muscle recovery by fighting off the free radicals that multiply when you work out. Make a batch of these on Sunday and enjoy them for the rest of the week.

— Non-stick cooking spray
— 3 cups plain oats
— 1/2 cup almonds and hazelnuts
— 1/3 cup sesame seeds
— 1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
— 1/3 cup honey
— 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
— 1/4 cup canola oil
— 2 tbsp orange juice
— Dash of salt

1/ Preheat the oven to 150°C and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2/ In a large bowl, mix oats, nuts, seeds and apricots. In a separate bowl, stir honey, sugar, oil, juice and salt together.
3/ Combine the two mixtures and spread on the baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until evenly browned. Let cool.
4/ Cut into pieces and divide among six airtight ziplock bags for easy storing.

Makes six servings. Per serving: 1 547kJ, 19g fat (2g sat), 250mg sodium, 47g carbs, 4g fibre, 6g protein

READ MORE: This Protein-Packed Egg Muffin Breakfast Is Actually All You Need

8. The energy source

To stay perky all day, experts suggest small, low-kilojoule meals rich in vitamin C, iron, complex carbs and protein. This two-part breakfast fits the bill. The juice and fruit provide lots of vitamin C, which promotes absorption of iron – critical for beating fatigue. Enjoy the smoothie first, then have the sandwich midmorning.

A: Super smoothie
— 1/2 cup orange juice
— 1/2 cup soya milk
— 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed
— 1/ Blend ingredients on high for one minute or until smooth.

B: Jolt sandwich
— 1 slice wholewheat bread
— 1 tbsp peanut butter
— 1 tsp honey

1/ Spread peanut butter on half the bread and drizzle with honey. Fold over.

For both servings: 1 421kJ, 13g fat (1g sat), 270mg sodium, 48g carbs, 6g fibre, 11g protein

9. The memory booster

Leading the office in some Powerpoint fun today? Eat Nigella’s jammy blueberries on toast while you review your notes. Antioxidants like those in blueberries and lemons are especially effective at preventing memory loss by reducing age-related stress on the brain, as is vitamin E, found in sunflower seeds. The zinc in wheat bread helps improve short-term memory, since the memory-making hippocampus in the brain may be fuelled by zinc.

— 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
— 1/4 cup maple syrup
— 1 slice seed loaf

1/ Add the maple syrup and blueberries to a small pot, bring to the boil and simmer for two minutes.
2/ Lightly toast the slice of seed loaf, transfer to a paper plate and top with the blueberries.

Per serving: 1 463kJ, 2g fat (0g sat), 200mg sodium, 84g carbs, 4g fibre, 58g sugars, 6g protein

10. The bone builder

This calcium-rich meal provides just under half the 1 000mg recommended daily allowance for women aged 19 to 50, thanks to the ricotta, which has 419mg. The mango adds nutrients like boron and magnesium, both of which help the body process calcium.

— 1 cup ricotta cheese
— 1/2 mango, diced
— 2 tbsp honey

1/ Place a third of the ricotta in a disposable plastic cup, then add half the fruit and honey.
2/ Repeat, ending with a layer of cheese.

Per serving: 2 341kJ, 24g fat (16g sat), 260mg sodium, 59g carbs, 1g fibre, 41g sugars, 32g protein

This weight-loss breakfast tastes like chocolate pudding! Plus: The superfood breakfast bowl worth waking up for…

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