Shape up for summer

Everything you need to know to get in tip-top shape for summer

Summer is here and many of us will want to drop a few pounds and get beach-body ready. We spoke to the experts to get their top tips to shape up for summer the natural way through diet and exercise.

Ditch fat-free milk

“Don’t choose fat-free milk alternatives as they are usually enriched with sugar to cover the bland taste,” says Francesca Cappozzo, nutritionist at Maître of Thyme (maitreofthyme.com). “Full fat is better because fat, even if it has more calories, is slowly digested and promotes satiety, and in my opinion tastes 100 per cent better.”

Forgo fruity yogurts

“The label might say ‘low fat fruit yogurt’ and so you would think it would help with controlling your weight, but the yogurt can contain up to eight teaspoons of added refined sugar,” explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar (www.marilynglenville.com). “Often sugar is the next ingredient after milk in highest amounts in the yogurt. This type of yogurt will be a high GI food causing your body to release more insulin to deal with the quick rise in blood sugar (blood glucose) and insulin is your fat storing hormone of the body.”

Put aside pre-packaged snacks

“Pre-packaged snacks are low in nutrition and high in easily digested carbs that can spike your blood sugar. Eat raw carrots and a handful of nuts as a snack instead,” suggests Dr Wendy Denning, working in association with CuraLin (curalife.co).

Wipe out white breads made with white flour

“White breads and baked goods made with white flour such as pastries, pizza and crumpets should be avoided,” explains nutritionist Cassandra Barns. “This is because they’re made from refined flour and so are quickly broken down into sugars and absorbed. In fact, some of them have a higher glycaemic index (meaning they raise blood sugar levels faster) than pure table sugar! They can be replaced with whole grain alternatives – or preferably, foods made from whole grains that have not been broken down into flour – such as oatcakes, dark German-style rye breads, porridge or simply cooked brown rice or quinoa.”

Skip tomato pasta sauce

“You would think that tomato sauce would be healthy as it is low in fat, but unless you make it yourself it can also be high in added sugar,” explains Marilyn. “And if you then pour this over white pasta, which in itself is a high glycaemic index food because it is a refined carbohydrate like the sugar, then you have a double whammy on your weight gain.”

Be cautious with condiments

“Go slow with condiments; it’s very easy to make a healthy meal much heavier by simply pouring too much dressing or oils,” explains Francesca.

Move over muesli

“Muesli conjures up a picture of a healthy breakfast and is often accompanied in adverts in a beautiful alpine setting with trees, bright blue skies, clear lakes and clean air,” says Marilyn. “But not all mueslis are the same and, as with anything you buy, you need to read the label and not just go by the hype on the front of the packet. Many can be laden with high amounts of added sugar and salt and this can turn a healthy breakfast into an unhealthy one.”

Fit and fabulous!

“Here are my best tips to shape your body, without having to spend all of your money and life on expensive gym memberships,” says personal trainer Luke Hughes from Origym Group (origympersonaltrainercourses.co.uk)

Functional fitness

If you set up a training plan comprised of functional exercises, your body will begin to adapt to challenges faced in everyday life. So, for example, as opposed to smashing out endless reps on a weight machine which isolates one specific area of your body in an unnatural way, start doing exercises that work multiple muscle groups, using body weight exercises. The great thing about bodyweight training is that it is easy: it can be done on the go and in your house, so there are no excuses.

Focus on strength

Too often, people looking for a summer body focus too much on the aesthetic side of the equation, rather than actually building strength in their body. If you focus on strength, and building strength in key areas using functional fitness and compound exercises (see below), then you’ll begin to see drastic changes in your body composition. What’s more, being strong will make you feel more confident, and will actually help you in your day-to- day life, as opposed to “slimming”, which can make you feel groggy and tired.

Compound exercises

If you’re looking to shape up for summer, then you should be looking to work out with a range of compound exercises. Compound exercises are, basically, exercises that work more than one muscle group at once. This means that you have to do fewer reps in order to see greater results. Because your body is building strength in a more natural way, you will also see changes in your overall body composition, rather than just focusing on bigger arms, more toned abs, or whatever else it may be.

With these things in mind, five of the best exercises for a summer body are:

  • Bodyweight squats/goblet squats/pistol squats
  • V-ups
  • Tricep dips
  • Mountain climbers
  • Plank variations (such as side plank and elevated plank)

Repair and rebalance

No dramatic changes will come about if you exercise but forget to eat healthily. As a general rule, when your muscles are repairing after an intense workout, make sure that your body gets enough protein containing the essential amino acids that it needs for repair. Also keep an eye on balancing your macros – you don’t want to overload on fats or carbs if you’re looking for a lean figure, but you also don’t want to deprive your body of these essential sources of energy.

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