Lucy Jones, dietician

Lucy Jones, dietician

1.     What fitness trends are you predicting for the new year?

Cost is a major factor for people considering starting new exercise, therefore simple outdoor activities like running and cycling are really gaining popularity; particularly when people can save on commuting costs. Also, with the Olympics this year, we can expect 'Wimbledon fever' on a massive scale - that is sport specific training, motivated by watching the pro's. So, it could be athletics, track cycling or even synchronism swimming - expect to see classes everywhere for lots of sports.

2.     What's your favourite form of exercise?

I am a fan of interval training for it's almost cheat-like ability to improve fitness quickly. I particularly use interval training on the treadmill - running fast for 1 minute and then slow jogging for recovery for 30 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times, depending on ability and start seeing results, fast!

3.     What's tips do you have for people who are starting to exercise in the new year?

The number one mistake people make with New Year's Resolutions is too much, too fast. We try to attack every last indiscretion and push beyond our tolerance boundaries, which leads to falling off the wagon. 

This year, pick a maximum of 3 small, achievable goals.   Something we help people with at Bodycraft is making goals SMART - Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time framed. 

If you want to get a grip on your weight, think about your current lifestyle and what is achievable. Don't splash out on a gym membership if you don't have enough time to breathe. Instead, plan walking, jogging, swimming or cycling twice a week for 30 mins. Alternatively, build activity into your daily life like stairs, housework and gardening - it all counts.

Setting a target in the future can help you to keep focus, such as entering a charity event , like Cancer Research's Race for Life. 

4.     What are workout essentials?

Having decent footwear, appropriate to your chosen activity, is essential for avoiding injury. Really, most things above that are optional! You don't need to splash out on fancy workout clothes or equipment initially but make sure that you have something comfortable, either cotton or in a sports material to help your skin breathe and draw sweat away - otherwise chaffing can occur. Ouch!

5.     What's your ultimate exercise tip?

If something looks or sounds too good to be true - it usually is. Don't expect amazing results from anything whilst you are standing still - you need to get moving, get your heart pumping and your circulation going to release those endorphins - the feel good hormone. Don't pick something you hate, exercise is not supposed to be torture. If you not enjoying it, change it and try something else! Mixing up your exercise sessions, doing lots of different things can also really improve your results by keeping your body guessing. When exercising – make it count. Do a mixture of interval training and light resistance exercise for a real metabolic boost.

6.     What sort of diet should people follow to lose weight?

Often when people want to lose weight, they try too hard and make too many changes. This affects energy levels, your ability to exercise and can also lead to a drop in your metabolism, slowing down weight loss and leading to plateau. Heartbreaking!

Never be tempted to skip meals or snacks, its completely counter-productive. Eat 5-6 small meals daily, based on lean protein, small portions of starchy CHO (palm of your hand) and lots of veggies! Don’t ignore your body if it says it’s hungry but make snacks high in fibre and protein as these will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Great choices include hummus or extra light cream cheese with vegetable crudités / toasted wholegrain pitta, yoghurt with a spoonful of oats, a slice of toast with peanut butter, or a handful of nuts / seeds.

Don’t forget to refuel quickly when you finish exercise to replenish glycogen stores and repair muscles. Without this step, your next training session will be harder and less productive. Ideal things to refuel include low fat chocolate milkshake, a glass of milk and a banana or a bagel with lean protein like egg or chicken.

Don’t forget the folly of calorie laden drinks – I want every calorie to make me feel full and sugar sweetened drinks or full-fat lattes / cappuccinos can really affect weight loss.

7.     Do you think that eating no carbs is an effective weight loss tool?

Any diet which cuts out an entire food group will undoubtedly lead to weight loss by reducing the calories which you consume. However, there are few people in life who could stick to a no carbs diet for life and short term dietary changes aren't usually worth the paper they are written on. When looking at your health and lifestyle, only make changes you can stick to for life or any effects seen will be quickly undone - leading to yo-yoing weight.

Be wary of anything which advises you to eliminate whole food groups as it could lead to you developing nutritional deficiencies! Carbs are fantastic sources of fibre  which helps prevents bowel cancer, and B vitamins which are essential for energy. They are recommended to make up a third of our diet for a good reason!

8.     What do you think about Detox diets, do you think they're an effective weight loss tool?

The magic 'jim'll fix it' pill or potion is what we all crave but unfortunately, a one week detox won't help your body for the other 51 weeks of the year and any weight lost will quickly come back with a vengeance, making you feel even worse. Try to think of the bigger picture and never make a change that you can't stick to for life. If you need to make dietary changes, think about having regular meals, reducing your alcohol and trying to add in one extra portion of fruit and vegetables daily - don't cut out everything you love as you won't last long! 

9.     A recent study said that diet foods can make you fat, what do you think about this?

There could be some truth to this. Eating 'diet' foods, particularly convenience products can be deceptive. Whilst something can state 30% less fat, that is only 30% less fat than the original product and the diet product could be pumped with sugar to improve taste with very little difference in actual calories. We can subconsciously, allow ourselves to eat more low calorie or diet products, undoing any reduced calories! Or end up allowing yourself that cheeky takeaway or extra alcoholic drink for consuming 'diet' things earlier on in the day.

Studies have also found a link between drinking diet soft drinks and obesity with every can of diet drink associated with a 41% increase in the risk of becoming obese. This isn't to suggest that diet soft drinks make you fat but it could be that subconscious association with allowing yourself other things or thinking you are undoing other poor lifestyle choices by having the diet version. Unfortunately it is a folly.

There is the argument that consuming smaller amounts of the normal product, regularly through the day is a better option. What is important for everyone, is to be mindful of what is in your food. This is something we help people with at Bodycraft, by supporting their learning of what constitutes a healthy diet. Something most people can do though, is get to grip with nutritional labelling. There are some great online guides, such as the NHS website

10.  Do you recommend taking supplements for health? Which ones?

Whilst taking supplements is appropriate for some groups of people (such as in pregnancy or those after weight loss surgery), most of us simply need to focus on eating the right things. More fibre, more brightly coloured fruits and veg, lean proteins and oily fish is more important than popping a pill; you can’t substitute a healthy diet. For some groups, like smokers, vitamin supplements like vitamin E or A could actually be harmful, linked with a higher risk of cancer.

What many of us are lacking in the UK is vitamin D - usually obtained from sunshine. We spend long days trapped indoors working and wear sunscreen to protect our skin, which reduces our ability to produce vitamin D. Those who tend to cover up may therefore benefit from some extra vitamin D. Chat to your GP if you think you might benefit from this.

11.  What's your ultimate diet tip?

Don't stop eating! Have regular meals, with lean protein and fibre rich foods at each meal to help keep you full. Don't cut out everything you love, its tortuous and unnecessary. Try a food diary for keeping tabs on yourself, monitor yourself weekly and reward yourself for meeting goals (just not with cake!)

12.  What do you think of Superfoods? Should we eat them more? Which ones?

 There is no such thing as a superfood, what we should be aiming for is a superdiet. No single food can outweigh the impact of the rest of your diet - look at it as a whole. The best thing to do is to eat as many different foods in a week as possible - maximum variety of foods means a better variety of nutrients. Instead of aiming for 5 portions of fruits and vegetables daily, see how close you can get to 35 different fruits and vegetables a week! Don't just almonds - have pistachios, walnuts, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds - you get the jist! 0800 862 0343. 

 Taryn Davies


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