The 30-day party-ready challenge

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30 days to party ready challenge

Is it just us or does Christmas seem to sneak up faster and faster every year, leaving minimal time to lose a little of the 'winter weight' we've been gathering as the desire to hibernate sets in?

It's that time again when we suddenly realise that party season is on the horizon, that glitzy dress for your work or family Christmas do is calling, and we want to feel a little slimmer and a whole lot healthier before the celebrations get underway.

Taking on a dedicated 30-day challenge is the perfect way to get in the zone and commit yourself to the idea of sticking to your goal in a healthy way. What's more, our month-long challenges are all incredibly healthy and can be done from the comfort of your home - no fads, and no expensive equipment and memberships!

Nutracheck Fitness Expert Kelly Marshall is here to show you that getting party-ready in 30 days can be done. Her fitness challenge is easily set out so you can see exactly which exercise you need to do each day of the month - there's even examples of how to do each exercise move.

And that's not all! Kelly has devised some top nutrition tips to accompany her 30-days to party-ready challenge, so each day you will have a handy tip to help you on your way to success. Each tip is set out below per day, so just check them off as you go!

What does the plan involve?

The 30-days to party ready challenge targets your legs, bottom, tummy and arms - a real total body approach for an overall body shape change! The format of this challenge follows three days of consecutive work followed by a day of rest to allow the body to recover before the intensity increases.

Kelly says: 'On the rest day, you should ideally incorporate stretching to aid recovery and it can serve as an "active recovery" day where you do something completely different like a light to moderate walk or swim!'

Each 4-day cycle looks like this:

Day 1, 2 + 3: Decline floor bridges --> Assisted Single let squat --> up/down plank
Day 4: REST

The challenge

Getting started with your plan couldn't be easier. All you need to do is download your own 30-days to party-ready challenge using the link below, print it off and stick it up somewhere that will motivate you to do your daily exercise. Don't forget to check your tip for that day too, all of which are set out below.

You can download your FREE 30-day party-ready challenge here

The moves

Kelly demonstrates how to perfect each of the three moves you'll need to know, take on the 30-days to party-ready challenge:

1. Decline floor bridges

Find a step (could be stairs or an aerobics step) and place your heels on the step - just heels as it will help engage your bottom during the exercise. Ensure your bottom is close to the step then you are ready to start.

Draw your tummy muscles in and consciously clench your bottom before pushing through your heels to lift your hips off the floor, towards the ceiling. Once you reach the top of the movement return to the floor at a controlled pace remaining the focus on clenching your tummy and bottom. Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.

2. Assisted single leg squats

Lightly hold onto a wall or other 
solid structure in your home. Lift
 one leg slightly off the floor and 
pull your tummy muscles in. To 
begin, push your bottom out behind
 you and allow your knee to bend, 
so your body lowers to a 
comfortable position. Try to 
emphasise your weight being on 
your heel and look down at your
 knee to ensure your knee doesn't 
go forward over your foot. This will
 protect your knee and maximise the 
recruitment of your bottom muscles!

Try to squat as low as you can with good form and then, to stand, clench your bottom and push into the floor with your heel. The more you consciously clench your bottom, the better training response you will get.

3. Up / down plank

Begin on your forearms and toes (a classic 'plank' position'), you will start and return to this position each time and that counts as one repetition. Lock your tummy muscles in tight then take one hand to where the elbow of that arm was, push down with that hand then follow suit with the other arm. You will end up in an extended arm position (not dissimilar to the starting position of a press up).

Then return on to your elbows by reversing the movement. Try to be as controlled as possible with this, by keeping your hips still. If you are unable to do this exercise then simply regress to working on a static extended arm plank (the press up position) and aim to hold for a duration of 30-4secs for each set.

Your daily nutrition tip

Check your daily nutrition tip to make sure you're on course to be party-ready by December!

Day 1: Track it
Number one weight loss tip - keep a food diary. It's the only way to know what and how much you are eating. It's also been proven to double weight loss. Try the Nutracheck website or app.

Day 2: Portion distortion
Portion size is the problem for many of us. Learn what a real portion is - protein = an iPhone; cheese = matchbox; pasta = size of your fist; veg = half the plate.

Day 3: Healthy but calorific
Healthy stuff still has calories. Be careful with foods like nuts, avocado, olive oil and salmon – all are high in good fats, but that also makes them high in calories.

Day 4: Always weigh foods
There are certain foods that it’s all too easy to eat too much of. Breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, jacket potatoes being common culprits. Have digital scales on your worktop and always weigh.

Day 5: Weigh-in weekly only
Avoid the temptation to weigh every day - natural fluctuations make it unreliable and demotivating. Weigh on the same day, at the same time, once a week.

Day 6: Good vs bad fats
Switch saturated fat found in pastries, cakes, fatty meat and full fat dairy, for unsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocado, oily fish and nuts.

Day 7: Variety is key
Eat a mix of fruit and veg to get a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Aim to include a rainbow of colours. Can be fresh, frozen, dried or juiced – all count.

Day 8: Veg before the rest
Always dish your vegetables first – cover half the plate - then potatoes, pasta, rice or protein. This means less room for the higher calorie stuff 0 and you'll still get a filling portion.

Day 9: Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is vital for our body to perform at its optimum. Water, tea, coffee, milk and no-added sugar squash all count. Keep track with the water monitor in the Nutracheck App.

Day 10: Go wholemeal
Switch all refined white carbs for wholemeal versions with more fibre and vitamins, to boost health, satiety and weight loss.

Day 11: Breakfast is a must
Never, ever skip breakfast. It kick starts your body, gives you much needed nutrients and reduces the likelihood of mid-morning vending machine raids.

Day 12: Regular is best
Eat little and often to help control blood sugar levels and hunger. Skipping meals can lead to cravings and poor food choices. Use the meal occasion view in your Nutracheck diary to stay on track.

Day 13: 5-a-day every day
Always eat your full fruit and veg quota to get important vitamins and minerals to keep your body functioning healthily. Track your 5-a-day automatically in the Nutracheck website diary or App.

Day 14: Recognise your triggers
We eat for many reasons other than hunger. Identify your personal triggers and see the helpful tips on the Nutracheck website to help you beat these going forward. Behaviour change is possible!

Day 15: Alcohol swaps
Make smart drink choice by switching to calorie-free mixers, add soda water to your wine and switch your pint for a shandy with calorie- free lemonade.

Day 16: Cut the fat
Always cut the visible fat off meat and avoid the skin as much as possible. These can increase the calories by up to 40%!

Day 17: Go low fat
Dairy foods are an important source of calcium but always opt for reduced/low/no fat options of yogurt, cheese and milk.

Day 18: Tea time
Try switching your usual brew for green tea – calorie-free and full of antioxidants to help boost your health.

Day 19: Easy days
Plan in advance for social occasions by setting easy days in the Nutracheck website. This will give you more calories for the weekend and less across week days to compensate.

Day 20: Have a treat
Don't cut out your favourite foods, you'll only crave them more. Have a little of what you fancy to keep cravings at bay and avoid falling off the wagon.

Day 21: Get support
Don't go it alone! We all have tough days, reach out and ask for help. The Nutracheck forums are a great place to get advice and support when you need it.

Day 22: Snack happy
Snacking is a great way to maintain blood sugar levels and avoid getting over-hungry. Opt for nutritious choices - nuts, veg crudités, oat cakes and fruit are all good choices.

Day 23: Egg up your life
Eggs are a perfect start to the day, packed full of protein, vitamin D and B vitamins they will give you the boost you need and keep hunger at bay.

Day 24: Swap & save
Make smart swaps with your treat foods - you can have a little chocolate but opt for a Curly Wurly instead of a Mars Bar to save over 140 calories.

Day 25: Think 5-a-day
Aim to have at least one portion of fruit/veg with every meal or snack - forming this habit will make it much easier to hit your target every day.

Day 26: Cook from scratch
Making your own food is the only way of knowing what's in it. Pack your meals full of veggies, wholemeal carbs and lean protein. Nutracheck's recipe calorie counter will work out cals per serving for you.

Day 27: Every mouthful counts
Don't miss entering anything from your food diary – you'll only be cheating yourself. Honesty is key to help you spot eating patterns and see where you can make changes.

Day 28: Plan in advance
Going for dinner? Check the Nutracheck App or website for the calorie info so you can choose your dish in advance. Plan the rest of your day's calorie allowance around it to stay on track.

Day 29: Serve and remove
Portion out your meal and then take the serving dish or pan back into the kitchen / oven. Studies show that leaving your serving dish on the table leads to overeating.

Day 30: Chew it
Take your time when eating to fully chew each mouthful and really taste the food. You will fill up more quickly and reduce your chances of overeating.

We'd love to know if you're going to take the 30 days to party-ready challenge, and for you to keep us posted with your progress! Either leave us a comment below or visit our Facebook page to share your sofa exercise experiences. Good luck!

Kelly Marshall, Nutracheck Fitness Expert says 'It's true that you can't out-train a bad diet. To get the maximum benefit from your party-ready toning plan, you need to make sure your nutrition is as focused as your exercise. The Nutracheck App is a must-have tool if you want to monitor your diet and track your calorie intake'.

Continued below...

If you are trying to lose a few pounds as well as tone up, the Nutracheck calorie counter App and website can help. Enter all the activity you do in the exercise diary and see how many calories you've burn. Record everything you eat in the Nutracheck food diary - the App is super-fast to use - and get the balance right to lose weight.

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Thomas Baird

"Switch saturated fat found in pastries, cakes, fatty meat and full fat dairy, for unsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocado, oily fish and nuts." Saturated fat DOESN'T cause heart disease! Get up to date. Open Heart 2014;1: doi:10.1136/openhrt-2013-000032 Editorial The cardiometabolic consequences of replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates or Ω-6 polyunsaturated fats: Do the dietary guidelines have it wrong? James J DiNicolantonio +Author Affiliations Cardiovascular research scientist and doctor of pharmacy, Ithaca, New York, USA Correspondence toDr James J DiNicolantonio; Introduction A recent publication by Malhotra1 was refreshing, inspiring and hit on an important topic that has been heavily debated for over 50 years, that is, are saturated fats as bad as we have been led to believe? History of the low-fat ‘diet-heart’ hypothesis The vilification of saturated fat by Keys2 began two decades before the seven countries study, where Keys showed a curvilinear association between fat calories as a percentage of total calories and death from degenerative heart disease from six countries. However, he excluded data from 16 countries that did not fit his hypothesis. Indeed, data were available at the time from 22 countries, and when all countries were looked at the association was greatly diminished.3 Furthermore, no association existed between dietary fat and mortality from all causes of death.3 Thus, past data promoted by Keys showing that an increased percentage of fat calories consumed increases the risk of death are not valid (and certainly could never have proved causation). These data seemingly lead us down the wrong “dietary-road” for decades to follow, as pointed out by others.4 ,5 The consequences of replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates The initial Dietary Goals for Americans, published in 1977, proposed increasing carbohydrates and decreasing saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet.6 ,7 This stemmed from the belief that since saturated fats increase total cholesterol (a flawed theory to begin with) they must increase the risk of heart disease. Moreover, it was believed that since fat is the most “calorie-dense” of the macronutrients, a reduction in its consumption would lead to a reduction in calories and a subsequent decrease in the incidence of obesity, as well as diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. However, the advice to increase carbohydrate intake seemingly made things worse, with an increase in its consumption (mainly corn syrup) paralleling the increased incidence of diabetes and obesity in the USA.8 In this analysis, fat was not associated with type 2 diabetes when total energy intake was accounted for,8 and the intake of saturated fat in the USA during this time was also not on the rise.9 These data provide a strong argument that the increase in the consumption of refined carbohydrates was the causative dietary factor for the diabetes and obesity epidemic in the USA. These data are further strengthened by a randomised, controlled, dietary intervention trial comparing a low-fat (<10% saturated fat) versus a low-carbohydrate (12% of total calories from carbohydrates) diet.10 ,11 While both diets were low in calories (1500 kcal/day), the low-carbohydrate diet showed greater improvements on numerous endpoints such as (1) body fatness (abdominal fat, body mass), (2) lipids (triglycerides, apolipoprotein B (ApoB)), (3)glucose tolerance (glucose, insulin and insulin resistance—measured via homoeostasis model assessment), (4) inflammation (tumour necrosis factor α, interleukin (IL) 6, IL-8, monocyte chemotactic protein 1, E-selectin, intercellular adhesion molecule 1) and (5)thrombogenic markers (plasminogen activator inhibitor 1).10 ,11 Additionally, the low-carbohydrate diet provided (1) an increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), (2) a reduction in the ApoB/ApoA-1 ratio and (3) a reduction in small, dense low-density lipoprotein (sdLDL), whereas all of these parameters were worsened on a low-fat diet.10 ,11 Thus, overall cardiometabolic health seems to improve to a greater extent when carbohydrate is restricted rather than fat. The assumption that a low-fat diet reduces the ‘bad’ cholesterol (ie, LDL) is an imprecise notion. While total LDL may be lowered with a reduced intake of dietary fat, if replaced with carbohydrate, this may increase sdLDL particles (ie, pattern B),10 ,11 which are more atherogenic than large buoyant LDL particles (ie, pattern A).12 Additionally, data indicate that a high saturated fat intake lowers sdLDL particles and raises large buoyant LDL particles.13Thus, replacing carbohydrate with fat may improve the LDL particle size distribution (eg, pattern B shifted to pattern A). Lastly, if fat is replaced with carbohydrate, this may worsen the overall lipid profile (decrease in HDL-C, increase in triglycerides and increase in sdLDL particles).10,11 Several other randomised trials indicate that a low-carbohydrate diet reduces weight and improves lipids more than a low-fat diet.14–18 Thus, reducing carbohydrates, as opposed to fat, seems to have more favourable effects on atherogenic dyslipidaemia, inflammation, thrombogenic and atherosclerotic surrogate markers.10–18 From these data, it is easy to comprehend that the global epidemic of atherosclerosis, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and the metabolic syndrome is being driven by a diet high in carbohydrate/sugar as opposed to fat, a revelation that we are just starting to accept. The consequences of replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated (Ω-6) fats Not only has the condemnation of saturated fats led to an increased consumption of carbohydrates, it has also led to several dietary guidelines recommending replacement of saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats, without specifying which polyunsaturated fatty acid (ie, Ω-3 vs Ω-6). The recommendation for increasing polyunsaturated fat stems from pooled analyses of data looking at increasing Ω-3 and Ω-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids.19 ,20 However, a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials showed that replacing a combination of trans-fats and saturated fats with Ω-6 polyunsaturated fats (without simultaneously increasing Ω-3 fatty acids) leads to an increased risk of death.21 These results were corroborated when data were recovered from the Sydney Diet Heart Study and included in an updated meta-analysis.22 Other human trials, not included in the aforementioned meta-analysis, include the Anti-Coronary Club trial, which showed that more people died (overall (26 vs 6) and due to coronary heart disease (8 vs 0)) when saturated fat was replaced with polyunsatured fat.23 The National Diet Heart Trial, a randomised, double-blind study, also showed a higher number of cardiovascular events (n=4) on a diet that was high in the polyunsaturated(P)/saturated(S) fat ratio (2 : 1), than on a diet high in saturated fat (n=1, P/S=0.4).24 Thus, advice to replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats (ie, Ω-6) may increase the risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular events, death due to coronary heart disease and overall mortality.21–24 Reasons for the potential harmful effects of Ω-6 fatty acids may be due to their promotion of cancer, suppression of the immune system, lowering of HDL-C and increasing the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation.25 Further evidence indicates a role of Ω-6 in promoting prostate26–28 and breast cancer.29 This is supported by the Anti-Coronary Club study, where there was 71% increased risk of death from causes other than coronary heart disease among individuals who were placed on a diet designed to increase the P/S ratio in those who had not experienced a new coronary event.30 Moreover, in a controlled clinical trial by Dayton et al,31there was a greater than threefold increased risk of death due to carcinoma when saturated fat (mainly of animal origin) was substituted for Ω-6 polyunsaturated fat (including corn, soybean, safflower and cottonseed). The potential harms of replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates or Ω-6 polyunsaturated fats are summarised in box 1. Box 1 The potential harms of replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates or Ω-6 polyunsaturated fats The potential harms of replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates Increase in small, dense LDL particles. Shift to an overall atherogenic lipid profile (lower HDL-C, increase in triglycerides and an increase in the ApoB/ApoA-1 ratio). Smaller improvements in glucose tolerance, body fatness, weight, inflammation and thrombogenic markers. Increased incidence of diabetes and obesity. The potential harms of replacing saturated fat with omega-6 polyunsaturated fats Increased risk of cancer. Increased risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular events, death due to heart disease and overall mortality. Increased oxidised LDL-C. Reduction in HDL-C. Lack of evidence for a low-fat diet Data are lacking in the support of a low-fat diet. In the low-fat diet in myocardial infarction trial, a controlled trial was performed to test if a low-fat diet would improve outcomes in 264 men who had recently recovered from a first myocardial infarction.32 Despite the fact that patients in the low-fat diet group ate significantly less fat (45 g/day vs 110–130 g/day), consumed less calories (approximately 1950 calories vs 2450 calories), obtained a lower cholesterol level and achieved a greater fall in body weight than those in the control group, there was no difference in definite reinfarction or death. In the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a randomised controlled trial including 48 835 postmenopausal women, a low-fat diet was not shown to reduce coronary heart disease, stroke or cardiovascular disease,33 despite a significant reduction in LDL-C, nor was there a reduction in cancer.34 ,35 A meta-analysis by Siri-tarino et al36 consisting of 21 prospective epidemiological studies, derived from 347 747 participants, indicated that the intake of saturated fat does not increase coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease. Moreover, a recent Cochrane meta-analysis indicated that changing dietary fat intake does not affect total mortality or cardiovascular mortality.37 Although reducing saturated fat was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular events by 14%, this was not shown with reducing total fat consumption.37 While the WHI study and the Siri-tarino and Cochrane meta-analyses cannot be taken at face value, taken together with “the low-fat diet in myocardial infarction trial”, a compelling argument can be made for the general lack of evidence in support of a low-fat diet. Dietary recommendations based on evidence from the literature are summarised in box 2. Box 2 Dietary recommendations based on evidence from the literature Dietary guideline recommendations suggesting the replacement of saturated fat with carbohydrates/Ω-6 polyunsaturated fats do not reflect the current evidence in the literature. A change in these recommendations is drastically needed as public health could be at risk. The increase in the prevalence of diabetes and obesity in the USA occurred with an increase in the consumption of carbohydrate not saturated fat. There is no conclusive proof that a low-fat diet has any positive effects on health. Indeed, the literature indicates a general lack of any effect (good or bad) from a reduction in fat intake. The public fear that saturated fat raises cholesterol is completely unfounded as the low-density lipoprotein particle size distribution is worsened when fat is replaced with carbohydrate. A public health campaign is drastically needed to educate on the harms of a diet high in carbohydrate/sugar. It would be naive to assume that any recommendations related to carbohydrate or fat intake would apply to processed foods, which undoubtedly should be avoided if possible. The final nail in the low-fat diet coffin is two randomised trials, one for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, PREDIMED38 (Prevención con Dieta Med- iterránea), indicating a reduction in the incidence of major cardiovascular events with a Mediterranean diet compared with a low-fat diet, and the other for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, the Lyon Diet Heart Study39 showing that a Mediterranean diet reduces all-cause and cardiovascular mortality as well as non-fatal myocardial infarction compared with a prudent diet. Conclusions In summary, the benefits of a low-fat diet (particularly a diet replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates or Ω-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids) are severely challenged. Dietary guidelines should assess the totality of the evidence and strongly reconsider their recommendations for replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates or Ω-6 polyunsaturated fats.

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