Your ultimate healthy schedule revealed
Tweak the timing and overhaul your body into an energised calorie burning machine. Let’s begin.
6:30am Start right
For long-lasting fat burning, ‘Do a five-minute circuit switching between 10 squats and five push-ups first thing,’ says fitness trainer Dan Roberts (@TeamDanRoberts). ‘Strength training can help burn around 15 per cent more calories than going for a run or doing yoga.’
6:45am Check in
‘A lot of people wake and get anxious about what stresses the day will bring,’ says Patrick Holford, nutritionist and author of The Stress Cure (Piatkus, £13.99). ‘Think of a positive memory of somewhere calm – it can immediately change your stress state,’ he says.
7:30am Fortify yourself
A proper breakfast is key. ‘First thing, your blood sugar is at its lowest, so you need low glycemic load carbs to release sugars slowly,’ says Holford. Try a bircher muesli with some chopped almonds. Holford also advises vitamin B and C supplements: ‘These replenish key nutrients burned out by stress.’
11:30am Perk up
You’ll conserve excess fat if you send your metabolism into starvation mode. Snack on protein with slow-release carbs, such as two oatcakes with sugar-free peanut butter, to keep revved up. And skip the latte. ‘Caffeine and low blood sugar can put you in fight or flight mode, where we’re more likely to react stressfully,’ Holford says.
1pm Get fuelled
Scoff a sandwich in five minutes? Stop. ‘Eating in a stressed state directs your energy away from your digestion,’ says Holford. ‘For optimal nutrition, make half your plate veggies, a quarter protein and another quarter slow-release carbs.’
3pm Check yourself
If you sit down all day, it’s vital to do it properly. ‘This is from the Alexander technique: perch on the end of your chair and be aware of pushing your shoulders back and down, and your chest out,’ says Roberts. ‘And take an ergonomic break. Smokers get some time out – so should you!’
4pm Power through
The perfect pick-me-up is a balance of protein and slow-release carbs. Holford suggests a small slice of rye toast and houmous.
Even if you’re shattered, ‘Exercise. Pick a class you love and won’t want to miss,’ says Roberts. ‘Cardio is good for fat burning, but if you need music to distract yourself, it’s not your ideal workout,’ says Roberts. ‘But stop cardio three hours before bed,’ he adds. ‘Or the adrenaline can keep you awake.’
7.30pm Dinner time
Aim to eat three hours before bed. ‘Any earlier and your blood sugar may dip and cause an adrenaline spike to wake you up,’ says Holford. ‘Pulses are great blood sugar balancers as they are the perfect mix of protein and carbs. Try a bean salad or lentil dahl.’
9:30pm Operation sleepy zone
Optimise your sleep space: low light, a good read, and no phone. Still can’t switch off? ‘Two reasons people can’t nod off are a lack of serotonin (the feelgood chemical) or melatonin (the sleep hormone),’ explains Holford. ‘Both are made from the amino acid 5HTP, so a supplement can help.
10:30pm Sweet sleep
Gentle movement can help you unwind. ‘Lie in child’s pose, breathing in and out to let go of tension,’ advises Roberts. And don’t cheat your sleep. ‘You need seven or eight hours of quality sleep,’ says Holford. ‘Go to bed earlier to clock up your hours and wake at 6.30am, full of energy.’