Like something out of a fairy-tale, the clock strikes midnight on the 31st of December every year, the high heels are replaced by a nice pair of fresh Nikes and we all wake up as this immaculately clean eating, gym going, money saving, positive living version of ourselves. Boxes of celebrations are replaced with carrot sticks, wine replaced by green kale goddess smoothies, evening Netflix to evening sit ups and meditation and our google searches are filled with detox miracles and every dietary fad known to man.
January is a great time to embark on a new fitness regime or healthy eating plan whether your goal is to shed some pounds, improve energy levels, improve your mood or just improve your health in general. There is a lot of “google searches” for advice we can take to help these along the way but suddenly you’re buying a miracle purity tea from China and electrical bum shaping shorts from some influencer who claims it gave her that Kardashian Derriere and sure hey, its January I’ll go for it! My advice is to keep things basic, small but useful steps and here I’ll discuss what main January concerns I’m asked about that can really help as an addition to not a “new year, new you” but a “new year, improved you” who’s here to stay ?
Protein is a hugely known and spoke about supplement for exercise recovery and can be very useful for this reason as it helps in the recovery and growth of muscle tissue. The average person requires .8g of protein per kg of bodyweight. If you lift weights you up this to 1g per kilo. If you are in a calorie deficit and aim to preserve muscle mass this can be increased further. Protein shakes make up roughly 20 grams of protein and so can be a useful addition providing your needs cannot be met through diet or you find it hard to eat something after a workout. In my opinion whey is the most known protein but it is also difficult for people to digest so a plant formula can benefit people more.
Magnesium is also a huge addition when exercising. Muscle soreness caused from lactic acid build up from exercise can be helped by magnesium and studies have shown taking it pre-workout helps the accumulation of lactic acid meaning you can go for longer, and without that crippling walk up the stairs the day after. This is why people bathe in Epsom salts. Epsom salts is magnesium sulphate, so this works too.
Without getting too technical bloating is basically food going into the body, not being broken down sufficiently, fermenting and creating gas/bloating. Good bacteria, enzymes and stomach acid all help this process so a good addition for people who suffer from this is a probiotic, digestive enzyme and/or to increase fermented foods in the diet such as sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir. Naturally occurring digestive enzymes are found in pineapple and bitter vegetables such as rocket so adding these to meals can be helpful. Ever eat a pineapple and get that tingly feeling on your tongue? Yep that’s the enzymes breaking stuff down…..cool right?! Apple cider vinegar is also a fermented drink which contains lots of enzymes and can be a great help to those who suffer from bloating.
I’m a total advocator for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle to maintain weight levels. As a complete and utter chocoholic, I’m not one of these people who thinks we should avoid anything, food is there to be enjoyed too but if you want the chocolate have it once a week instead of three times and maybe if you have a night out do an extra workout to make up for it, but restriction can lead to bingeing (we’ve all been there, oh I ruined my day now I’ll just eat the contents of the fridge) and exercise shouldn’t be punishment, it should be enjoyed and make us feel good. For those who need some extra support some supplements can be useful:
Apple cider vinegar has actually been shown to improve fat break down by the body and to balance blood sugar levels both of which can help with weight loss.
Garcinia cambogia, a plant which works on serotonin or our happy hormone can help increase our mood to control appetite if you find yourself to be a comfort eater. It also helps block the conversion of Carbohydrates to fat meaning your body uses its own fat stores instead.
Fibres, such as psyllium or glucomannan can also be a useful aid for people with large appetites. They swell in the stomach making us fuller for longer whilst also moving things along in the body quicker.
Green tea can also be useful as it helps increase metabolism by increasing a process called thermogenesis which is basically how the body uses calories.
Ever go on a diet and lose half pound in your first week? This is actually water, a result of inflammation or excess glycogen stored from heavy carbohydrate diet and/or high salt and inflammatory foods (the main culprits, sugar, fast food etc)
Dandelion is a plant with diuretic abilities which can help to get rid of this retained water. It comes in tablets, tincture or teas and works almost instantly. Apple cider vinegar also helps with water retention, alongside cutting the things that are actually causing it.
Many people want to embark on a liver detox after Christmas since its normally the time of year where people drink the most. Milk thistle is the main herb for this. It helps to regenerate the liver and break down alcohol. It’s also extremely useful for prevention of hangovers (for February of course ‘cos everyone knows we don’t drink in Dry January)
As soon as diet improves energy normally improves as our body receives more nutrients as fuel. If people want extra support a good multivitamin can help and/or a B complex. These are our main energy vitamins and are water soluble so if a new exercise regime has been undertaken, we can lose some of these in sweat.