Are You Drinking Enough Water?

You probably already know that it’s important to drink enough water. A minimum of eight glasses of water a day is recommended. You should aim for more if it is really hot, or you are working out and sweating a lot. Getting enough water in your body will prevent you from getting dehydrated.

According to WEBMD the early signs of dehydration are increased thirst, dry mouth, sticky saliva and reduced urine output with dark yellow urine. You may also experience a lack of energy and a headache.

None of these sound very fun. I know it is hard sometimes to drink that much water; especially when sodas and coffee tempt us. However, to stay healthy and feel great, we should strive to drink those eight glasses of water a day.

Here are a few tips to help you remember to drink the water, and to make it a little more pleasant or interesting.

1. Keep a Log

This can be as simple as a little piece of paper on the fridge, or a page in your day planner. Just make a little checkmark, or dash on the piece of paper every time you drink a glass of water. The log will help you keep track of how much water you have had in any given day. You'll also be surprised how motivating it is to try to get those eight little checkmarks on there every day. Another idea would be to use little stickers instead, or even find an app for your phone.

2. Add Some Lemon Juice

I tend to get bored with drinking just water after a few days. Change things up and add a little flavor by adding a teaspoon or less of lemon to your water. You can also try some other fruit juices. Just make sure you are still drinking mainly water. Just a splash of juice should be enough to make things interesting and give the water some flavor without adding a lot of sugar and calories.

3. Try Some Club Soda

If you are craving the fizz of a soda, try some Club Soda. Most brands have a little too much fizz for me. I end up watering them down with – guess what – water. If you want to get really fancy, check your local grocery store for flavored club sodas. Alternatively, you can also add a splash of fruit juice to your watered down club soda.

4. Drink Some Water When You Feel Hungry

Unfortunately many of us have become so out of tune with our bodies that we feel hungry when we are actually thirsty. If you feel hungry, try drinking a glass of water first. You may just be thirsty.

5. Carry A Water Bottle

It’s much easier to drink water when you have it readily available. Carry a bottle of water around with you in the car, at work, while running errands, in the yard, and even while you are working around the house. You'll be sipping away the water without even noticing it.

6. Drink More If You Are Working Out

We already touched on this, but it bears repeating. Make sure you drink a few extra glasses of water if you work out, or if you spend some time outside while it’s hot. Your body uses and needs more water when it sweats a lot. So don't forget to fill back up on water during and after your exercise.

Just pay attention to how much you drink and implement some of these ideas if you don't get the recommended eight glasses of water a day. Your body will thank you for it in the long run.

Fitness Training – The Importance of Correct Warming Up

All types of physical practice, in fitness or any other sport, must begin with correct warming up. This activity, together with relaxation and the main stage, are the three essential parts of the training.

The types of warming up can vary a lot in length, intensity and structure of exercises, according to the sport or the training you want to start. Although there are many kinds of warming up, all of them have in common two distinct stages.

The first stage concerns general warming up, whose purpose is to gradually prepare the whole body for the effort which will follow. The body temperature also increases. At this stage, the inertia of the body is easily removed through aerobic exercises (running, cycling, etc.). This stage should not take more than 5-10 minutes; otherwise it will change into a real aerobic training. It is well known that during aerobic effort the body consumes a lot of glycogen, so, especially before force training (anaerobic), there is the risk of running out of energy.

The second stage of warming up is specific to each sport. This stage aims to warm up the main muscles and joints involved in the effort, but also to anticipate, by simulation, some movements from the main part of the training. This stage can be longer than the first one and includes different types of gymnastics for the joints, jumping, exercises at greater speed, stretching, etc. However, this stage shouldn't be very long either, because the sportsman needs to save physical energy and to avoid mental stress. In many sports (target shooting, fencing, tennis, etc.), mental stress can be bigger than physical effort.

These two stages of warming up must come one after the other very strictly. It is forbidden to switch their order, and also to skip one of them. Unfortunately, it is common in sport to skip the first stage and do just specific warming up, which is considered more important.

This is a big mistake, because this type of exercises does not rise the body temperature as much as the ones involving minimum aerobic effort. The result is that the body will be much more rigid and a lot less prepared for the main part of the training. There are cases, especially in sport games, when both stages of warming up are abandoned. Kicking the ball or passing a few times are supposed to replace a thorough, but boring warming up.

Not doing the warming up correctly or, worse, not doing it at all increases the risk of having accidents during training or competing. Possible accidents range from simple ones, like pulling a muscle or cramps, to some really bad ones (ruptured muscles, hernia, sprains, dislocations, etc.). Even if, luckily, such accidents do not happen, the body will experience a dramatic decrease of efficiency in performing the exercises.

It is very important for beginners to do the warming up. If they do not ignore it when they take up sport, they will form a habit of warming up and will, hopefully, keep this habit as long as they do sport. They must not assume the false idea that, being beginners, they shouldn't exercise so intensely.

All these problems are traps that correct warming up can definitely avoid.

Top Three Exercises For Stress Relief

Whether coming from our jobs, personal life, incompetent drivers, or the soaring gas prices, stress seems to be all around us, bombarding us with an overload that has us overworked, cranky, and restless. The effects of prolonged stress on the human body can be devastating to our health resulting in migraines, muscle aches, insomnia, digestive problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain, asthma, and heart disease along with a wide range of other health problems. Learning to effectively manage stress and adding regular exercise to your routine is a valuable part of stress relief which is vital to good health. But do not worry, you do not have to make time to go to the gym or worry if your fitness level is not up for that aerobic workout, here are three of the best exercises for stress relief than can be done by just about anyone at any fitness level, of course as always, before beginning any new exercise program you want to be sure that your health care provider has cleared you for exercise if you have any recent injuries or health care concerns.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient martial art form. This Chinese art has been practiced for centuries and is a perfect exercise for stress relief. Tai Chi uses very fluid and graceful movements that are slow and precise, focusing the mind and strengthening the body. It can be done just about anywhere by people of all ages and is fairly simple to learn. People who practice Tai Chi experience a better sense of balance, over all improvement in health, sleep better, and feel a sense of clarity and improved mental focus along with the stress relief.

Pilates

Pilates was originally developed as a method of rehabilitation for injured dancers and soldiers. Incorporating simple moves similar to yoga in parts, pilates stretches and lengthens your muscles, improves the strength and stability of your core (the torso), and is also very calming and soothing making it a great choice for stress relief. Stress relief is not the only benefit of pilates, you also get a longer, stronger spine, better posture, more graceful muscle tone, and stronger abs. And because a large portion of pilates can be done as a mat work out, it is great for people with special needs to consider that may make traditional exercise more difficult.

Water Aerobics

If you would like something to get your heart beat going and improve your overall tone and health, along with giving you stress relief, water aerobics is another great choice. Unlike traditional aerobic classes, being in the water lessens the impact of the movements on your joints, legs, and spine. Being in the water makes your motions effortless, yet the resistance of the water provides a better, stronger work out. The calming sensation of being in the water offers great stress relief and gives you a wonderful workout for your muscles, weight loss, and cardio building along with the stress relief. A water aerobics class that is becoming very popular now is Aqua Barre.

Whichever routine you choose, or perhaps some combination of the three, you will find great stress relief from starting a regular routine and the stress relief will only enhance the other great health benefits you will obtain.

What is Cardio?

Cardio is a word everyone at the gym seems to use. But what is it? And more importantly, what is the point of it?

Cardio is cardiovascular exercise. Simply, cardio is a type of exercise that keeps up your heart rate, burns calories, is brilliant for working your muscles to make the workout you do after more efficient, and is so important for a healthy body and avoiding disease. Cardio is intense, as it is meant to elevate your heart rate, increasing the number of calories you will lose and the fat you will burn. It also helps to improve your metabolism and strengthen your heart and lungs.

Whether you love it or hate it, cardio is a great addition to your workout and can make what you do so much more effective through increasing your heart rate. If you are one of those people, why not try it with a friend to build some healthy competition. You can read our article about gym buddies here.

It may seem difficult to some, but you do a cardio workout every day. Walking, running, and cycling are all cardio workouts, helping your body and muscles get moving so you can perform more exercises, as well as burn calories. Other workouts you can attempt in the gym that count towards your cardio are: using a rowing machine, swimming, doing a Hiit workout, or even skipping, which can burn over 1000 calories per hour. It’s incredible how much cardio you could be doing without even realising it.

So that’s what cardio is. Simple, yet effective, especially in the gym. But how often should you do it?

Some people say to do a dedicated hour of cardio 3 times a week, and some people say to do 30 minutes 5 times a week. It really is up to the individual, as well as the current workout routine. Your regular training session may contain a lot of cardio without you realising, so assess your personal situation and see what works best for you and how often you can squeeze in a session at the gym. Whatever works out for you, remember to always take a rest day each week to give your body time to rest and repair so that you will begin to see great results.

What is your favourite kind of cardio workout?

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Coconut Oil

It is a common misconception that coconut oil is bad for you. People all over the world are experiencing the healthy benefits of using coconut oil. It is actually one of the healthiest oils you can consume. Here are the top seven reasons why you should use coconut oil as an alternative to other common cooking oils.

1. Coconut oil doesn't turn to fat in your body!

Unlike many other common oils, like soy (vegetable) and corn, coconut oil won't make you fat. Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are an easy fuel for the body to burn, without turning to fat. Most other cooking oils and fats contain long-chain triglycerides (LCT). LCT's are usually stored as fat. Since coconut oil is a MCT, it is more easily absorbed and converted to energy quicker.

People in the tropics have relied on coconuts as a traditional staple in their diet for centuries. They consume large amounts of coconut oil every day. Instead of getting fatter, it helps them stay healthy, lean and trim. When they switch from coconut oil to our modern oils, they develop obesity and the health problems that our modern society faces.

Some other people who have known this truth for a long time are people who are in the animal feed business. When livestock are fed vegetable oils, they put on weight and produce more fatty meat. When they are fed coconut oil, they become very lean.

2. Coconut oil increases your metabolism!

Not only does coconut oil convert to energy quicker in your body, it increases your metabolism, which promotes weight loss. Because it boosts your metabolism, it helps your body burn fat more effectively.

Coconut oil may triple your calorie burn. Since coconut oil is a MCT, it is converted to energy so quickly that it creates a lot of heat. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, MCT's burn three times more calories for six hours after a meal than LCT's.

The February 15, 2005 issue of Woman's World magazine stated that coconut oil is the "underground high-metabolism secret."

This is great news for people who have thyroid problems, since coconut oil improves sluggish thyroids by stimulating the production of extra thyroid hormones. Most other common oils, like vegetable (soy) and corn have been shown to inhibit thyroid function.

3. Coconut oil has omega 3 fatty acids!

Most cooking oils contain omega 6 fatty acids, something we get way too much of in the United States. Our omega 6 to omega 3 ratio should be 1:1 but it is more like 50:1. We need to drastically cut back our omega 6 oils and consume much more omega 3 oils to be healthy. And coconut oil is filled with these healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

4. Coconut oil gives you energy!

Because of the healthy omega 3 fatty acids and the fact that it increases the metabolism, most people that switch to coconut oil feel a burst of added energy in their daily life.

This is because coconut oil is nature’s richest source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT's), which increase metabolic rates and lead to weight loss. MCT's promote thermogenesis, which increases the body's metabolism, producing energy.

This is because coconut oil is nature’s richest source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT's), which increase metabolic rates and lead to weight loss. MCT's promote thermogenesis, which increases the body's metabolism, producing energy. Many people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia have found that adding coconut and coconut oil to their diet was helpful to them.

5. One of the best things you can use on your skin and hair is coconut oil!

Coconut oil one of the best things you can apply directly on your skin and hair. It gives temporary relief to skin problems like rashes. It aids in healing and restoring skin to a younger appearance. It has also been known to help with people who suffer from yeast infections in the skin, as well as many other skin problems.

Not only does is soften and smooth your skin, coconut oil has antioxidant properties that protect the skin from free radical damage. Coconut oil makes excellent massage oil too.

6. Coconut oil has healthy benefits that most other oils do not!

Evidence is mounting that coconut oil has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and antiviral effects when both consumed and used topically on the skin.

Most oils oxidize and turn rancid very quickly causing free radical damage in our bodies. Coconut oil is not easily oxidized and does not cause harmful free radical damage like polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Free radical damage is thought to be responsible for many ailments in our body from arthritis to increased susceptibility to cancers.

Coconut oil also helps our bodies absorb other nutrients more effectively, such as Vitamin E.

7. Coconut oil is one of the best oils you can use for cooking!

It has a higher smoke point than olive oil, which means it can take higher temperatures better. There are several healthy omega 3 oils we can choose to consume, such as flax and olive oil, but they don't do well under the high heat we use for cooking. Coconut oil can be used in higher cooking temperatures.

It is harder for coconut oil to go rancid, unlike other cooking oils, which are usually rancid long before you even bring them home. Rancid oils cause free radical damage in the body, which is a leading cause of cancer. Coconut oil is stable for over a year at room temperature.

Because of the misinformation we have been given for years, we have lost out on the healthy benefits that coconut oil has given the people of the tropics for centuries. But now it has been rediscovered! Coconut oil is so effective, it won't be long before we see coconut oil supplements promoted, but you can get the jump on the popular crowd and start consuming and cooking with coconut oil today!

2 Steps To Six Pack Abs

First off, I want to mention that, for most people, getting six pack abs is not an easy task. It requires dedication, but it is possible! Below is a general 2-step guide that, if followed religiously for 3 months, will produce results.

Step 1: Nutrition

This is the single most important part of the puzzle, hands down. You can have the most impressive set of abs, but if they're covered with a layer of fat, you won't see them! Break up your day with 5 or 6 mini-meals because this jump starts your metabolism. And stop eating the food that is preventing results: white bread, loads of pasta, soda, candy, fast food, hydrogenated oils, sugars and fructose corn syrup.

Instead, replace them with foods that will help you reach your goal: oatmeal, olive oil, whole grain breads, fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, natural peanut butter, chicken, fish, protein and water. Be realistic- you'll slip here and there, but make a conscious effort to radically improve your eating habits because getting a six pack will be impossible if you don't.

Step 2: Exercise

You need to concern yourself with 3 different exercises: cardio, weightlifting and ab exercises. And aim to workout 3- 4 times a week.

The cardio you do can be anything: walking, running, biking, swimming....whichever cardio you don't mind doing so that you'll stick with it. Aim for 30-45 minutes, a minimum of 2 times a week.

Weightlifting is important because 3 pounds of added muscle burns as many calories as a 1 mile jog...and this is while you're just sitting around! Aim for 30-45 minutes, a minimum of 2 times a week. If you're confused as to what exercises to do for each body part the Gym & Tonic fitness professionals have extensive knowledge and will happily share their tips.

The last exercise you need to incorporate into your workout is ab exercises. Aim to work your abs a minimum of 3 times a week. There are a ton of different ab exercises you can do so try to find 3 or so that you enjoy doing so you can mix it up. Click HERE for a good database of different ab exercises.

Tip: mix up your workout routine every 2 weeks to keep your body guessing and changing. Add or take away different weight or ab exercises, or at the very least, vary the weight, reps or form of cardio you do.

Well, there you have it. Follow the above for 3 months religiously, and while results will vary from person to person, you will experience improvement.

It will take dedication on your part, but imagine the feeling you'll get when you look in the mirror and like what you see.

Should You Have a Gym Buddy?

Whether you’ve been a gym goer for a while or are just getting started, there are days when we just have no motivation whatsoever and getting out of bed let alone going to the gym is painful. But having someone else there to inspire you and push you to continue can be incredible, and if you’re worried about going to the gym on your own, this may be the ultimate solution for you! Here’s some great reasons why you should have a gym buddy.

Achieve Your Goals

Like we’ve said, finding motivation can be tough, and if you start to fall behind your schedule and routine, your goals can feel a million miles away. By having someone there with you, you are inspired to work as hard as them, but also motivate each other when it feels like it’s all too much. If you’ve got a goal you’re working towards and you’re feeling motivated, you’re more likely to get to where you want to be quicker.

Fitness Becomes Fun

It can feel like a lot of effort to go to the gym, but by having a friend to chat and laugh with, working out will be fun. If you’ve got a friend to hang out with, going to the gym will become enjoyable and you’ll be happy to have it as part of your weekly routine. You and your gym buddy will be able to have a serious workout, with it feeling a little less serious.

Competition is Good

Now, we’re not saying you should compete with your gym buddy but having someone to workout with will push you to try harder. You could set small challenges with each other or time trails to push each other to work harder. Try building your own circuits or seeing who can complete a certain number of reps in the lowest time. Friendly competition is best, but whatever you do, push each other to punch harder, kick higher, and run faster.

Accountability

It can be easy to break promises to ourselves, especially if we're feeling tired or just can't be bothered with the gym, but if we've promised someone else, giving up is a last resort. By having a gym buddy, you become more accountable for your actions, and are more likely to stick to your gym routine if you don't want to let someone else down.

Learn Something New

If you go to the gym on your own, you may get stuck doing the same things every time, worried to start new classes and routines as it’s new and out of your comfort zone. By having a friend with you, you can swap tips and routines, inspiring you to try new things but not feeling alone or awkward whilst doing it. Going to classes for the first time can be daunting but having someone with you can make it feel more natural and fun. Teach your gym buddy your favourite exercises, and they’ll do the same.

These are just a few short reasons explaining why having a friend at the gym can really help you get more work done and feel happy whilst doing it. You may be thinking how you can get a gym buddy, well, you could speak to a member of the staff at the gym and ask if they know of anyone looking for a friend at the gym, or even reach out to your friends and family members and ask if anyone of them wants to go to the gym with you. You may not find someone straight away, but you will find someone you get along with and motivates you to do better.

7 STEPS TO EFFECTIVE TRAINING

Dr Jinger Gottschall explains how to get the results you deserve.

Want to get the best results from the time you spend working out? Keep these seven tips front of mind.

Dr Jinger Gottschall is a university professor, studio owner, Les Mills instructor and former triathlete who has dedicated her career to academic fitness research. Here she shares some of her favorite fitness facts – highlighting exactly what it takes to shape a safe and effective training regime.

#1 CHOOSE THE RIGHT MOTIVATION

If you’re primarily motivated by external goals (how you look), it’s harder to maintain good exercise habits over time. You have a better chance of making a lifestyle change if you think about what internal factors motivate you. It might be lowering cholesterol, improving body composition, boosting energy, productivity and happiness. Choose internally-focused motivators like these and sticking to exercise will be much easier. Write your goals down. And if you want, share them. Sharing your goals with other like-minded people is proven to boost your chances of success through support.

#2 PROGRESSIVE TRAINING IS THE BEST BET

If you’re new to exercise or haven’t exercised regularly for over six months, studies show a slow, progressive training plan is the best way to build a habit and prevent burnout. Try not to do more than the plan specifies – by doing too much too soon you increase the risk of injury, not to mention frustration and the likelihood of giving up.

#3 VARIETY BRINGS RESULTS

The best results come when you follow a weekly regime that features a combination of cardio, strength and flexibility training. This was highlighted by a study involving 25 non-active, healthy adults who completed a training plan featuring a combination of LES MILLS™ workouts. After 30 weeks the exercisers saw an increase in lean tissue (+5 percent), a decrease in both body mass (-4 percent), and LDL cholesterol (-6 percent). And their cardiovascular fitness increased by an average of 50 percent. Thanks to results like these we can now confidently advise that a varied work out regime will significantly improve your chances of living a longer, healthier life.

#4 CHOOSE HIGH REP, STRENGTH TRAINING

Don’t shy away from lifting weights. Incorporating low load, high-repetition strength training can build strong, lean muscle and do amazing things for your fitness. We studied 20 non-active, healthy adults following a regime featuring three RPM™ cycling workouts and three BODYPUMP™ strength training sessions per week. After 24 weeks not only did cardiovascular fitness significantly increase, but bone density in the arms, legs, pelvis, and lumbar spine were statistically greater.

#5 LOW WEIGHTS MAXIMIZE CALORIE BURN

High repetition training with low weights can maximize calorie burn. Studies show the mean amount of energy expenditure during a BODYPUMP workout, using faster repetitions with lighter weights, is 29 percent greater than in the same duration of slower repetitions with heavier weights.

#6 ADD HIIT

If you already participate in three to five workouts per week, consider embracing the magic of high-intensity interval training. With the addition of just two 30-minute HIIT workouts a week you can see your health, fitness, and strength leap ahead. In a study of 84 healthy adults it took just six weeks of twice-weekly LES MILLS GRIT™ workouts for them to enjoy a decrease in body fat (-2 percent), a reduction in triglycerides (-16 percent), an increase in cardiovascular fitness (+6 percent) and improved back strength (+21 percent).

#7 DON’T FORGET YOUR CORE

Squeezing in the odd set of crunches isn’t going to give you the results you deserve. Core exercises that require shoulder (deltoid) and hip (glute) activity produce greater muscle activation in the abdominal muscles than exercises such as a crunch. Research shows that incorporating integrated core training into your workout regime can improve endurance, enhance stability and reduce injury.

Jinger Gottschall, PhD, is an Associate Professor at Penn State University, and former triathlete who learned first-hand the injury-inducing effects of doing nothing but cardio exercise. She has subsequently led numerous studies into the effectiveness of various exercise regimes and works closely with Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research, to test all sorts of exercise programming. When it comes to getting the best results from the time you spend working out, this woman knows the way to go.

This piece originally appeared on lesmills.com.

 

It Starts Today!

ENOUGH! Stop thinking and start doing. Yes, we’re talking to you!
We get that it can be difficult to start something new, so why not ease into it with these few ideas and soon you’ll be up early for a run and then heading to the gym before bed!

SWEAT BEFORE YOU SHOWER

As soon as you wake up, do a few sit-ups on your bed. Whilst you’re brushing your teeth, do a wall-sit or a few squats. Take some of the free time you have to include one or two exercises which will quickly become your morning routine. Get all of this done before you shower, and you will have done your workout for the day!

STAND UP

Sitting at a desk all day can get boring, so why not make it a little more exciting by standing up and walking around. It may seem silly but stretching your legs can help you feel better, as well as help you add some fitness to your workday. Instead of emailing a colleague, walk over to them, go on a short stroll outside on your lunchbreak, even if you just stand up and stretch for 30 seconds every hour, that’s something! It’s so much better for you to be stood up than sat down for most of the day.

ARE YOU REALLY HUNGRY?

One-way that people undo all the hard work they have put into their fitness routine is by snacking or eating too much. Obviously, if you’re hungry you need to eat, and you should be eating good, solid meals throughout the day to give you the energy to keep you going. However, snacking unhealthily or eating a lot when you think you’re hungry is counterproductive. If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not really hungry, you’re just bored. Always keep that in mind when you are feeling peckish and are heading over to the cupboard to grab something. Instead, go for a piece of fruit, and if you don’t fancy that, maybe you aren’t hungry after all.

ADD EXERCISE TO YOUR EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES

This is a super simple one to do, and you can switch it up each day or have a certain routine that you follow. Basically, when cooking, jog around the kitchen if you are waiting for something to boil, if you’re watching tv why not hold a plank during the adverts or do push ups. Just keep yourself moving, and by tying it in with your everyday activities, it won’t feel odd or boring.

USE THE STAIRS

When out and about, if you can, use the stairs instead of elevators or lifts. Climbing stairs raises your heart rate which is great cardio, as well as increases your core muscle strength. So, choose the stairs! It’s an easy workout to fit in without you even realising, and if you start now, whether out shopping or in a hotel, it will become second nature to use the stairs. It’s recommended that you walk at least 10,000 steps per day, so why not do something to help towards that goal!

WALK OR CYCLE

If you live close to where you work or where your daily commute takes you, why not walk or cycle? As well as getting in some exercise, your heart rate will rise which will fill your body with good hormones, making you happier and ready for the day ahead of you. If you’re a little further away, why not cycle, however if this isn’t possible, go on a bike ride when you get home from work or make it a regular weekend activity.

There isn’t time for excuses anymore, we’ve given you all you need to start doing what you’ve been talking about, so today is the day! Whether you decide to exercise whilst watching tv, think about your food, cycle to work, or take on board all of these ideas, you’re taking a step in the right direction, and all you need to do now is stick at it!

Are you sure that’s healthy?

We should all be eating healthily. Obviously treating ourselves is nice, but our focus should be on giving our body everything it needs in the best way possible. But is the “healthy” food that you’re picking up in the supermarket really as healthy as you think? Here are a few products that you should avoid or cut down on:

ITEMS THAT SAY ‘DIET’ OR ‘LIGHT’ ON THE PACKAGING

Items that pop up in the shops that are labelled as ‘diet’ can seem enticing, especially if we’re on a diet and we want to treat ourselves but don’t want to feel guilty about it. But have you ever looked at the ingredients for some of these products? Do you know what everything is? Instead of the normal item containing sugar, the ‘light’ version will be made from artificial products and other chemicals that aren’t really that great for us. Let’s take diet lemonade for example. Diet lemonade doesn’t have all the sugars that normal lemonade does, but the sugar will have been replaced by artificial sweeteners and chemical flavourings, so it tastes like the original. When you break down what is in diet products, it’s scary, and probably best to stick to a smaller amount of the original or skip it all together.

PRE-PREPARED FOODS

Ready meals and other foods that are all sorted for us make life so much easier, but they can often be full of ingredients no one has heard of before. Companies use flavour enhancers, cheap ingredients, preservatives, and all sorts of chemicals to add to the shelf-life of these foods. Always read the label before buying anything, and if you’re unsure on any of the ingredients, internet search them or put it back. With the time it takes to find something, you could’ve started making something a lot healthier anyway.

FRUIT JUICES

This probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but fruit juices contain so much sugar. Most juices do contain fruit, but many that line the supermarket shelves just contain chemicals that taste like fruit, so you’re basically drinking fruit-flavoured sugar water. That’s crazy! Even juices that are 100% fruit contain a lot of sugar from the fruit itself and the fiber that is great has been taken out. Treat fruit juices like fizzy drinks. They’re nice for a treat but stick to water.

SALAD DRESSINGS

Having a salad is great, and a great healthy option to go for. However, salads and vegetable dishes can be made unhealthy with on simple step of adding a salad dressing or sauce. So many dressings are loaded with sugar, vegetable oil, trans fats and a lot of artificial chemicals. By adding a dressing to your salad, you make it an unhealthy meal and might not get all the benefits that you would’ve done. Make sure to check the ingredients of whatever salad dressing you use, or even make your own. It’s super simple to do with items that you will already have.

CEREALS AND CEREAL BARS

Many cereal boxes boast that the product inside is ‘low in fat’ or has ‘low grain’, however when you look at the ingredients list, a lot of what’s listed is refined grains, sugar and artificial chemicals. So many people feel that they are getting a great product, but with what’s inside cereal, it’s scary to think about what we’re actually eating. Leading into cereal bars, these are also full of sugars and are often covered with chocolate or contain sugary pieces to make the bar look more appealing. Always look and think about what you’re buying, especially if you are getting cereal bars to eat after a workout or even to put in your children’s lunchboxes.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES FROM THE SUPERMARKET

Finally, let’s look at someone hardly anyone would think about. Obviously, fruits and vegetables are the healthiest things you can eat, however produce can easily sit out in boxes or on shelves for weeks after it has been harvested. In this time, nutrients can deplete, meaning they are not as good for you as the day they were picked. A way around this is to pick your own fruit which can easily be done this time of year, or shop at farmers markets where products are fresh and organic, meaning they are better tasting and better for you.

You’re probably thinking that you’re a bit stuck after reading this, but you shouldn’t. Everything eaten in excess is unhealthy, but if you think about it, look at the ingredients, and really put some effort into what you’re doing, you will be eating healthily. The truly healthy foods are the ones that don’t need to claim that they’re healthy, and the real foods don’t need an ingredient list because the real food is the ingredient. Next time you go shopping, look before you buy, you will thank yourself for it.