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What’s the best way to lose weight in a healthy way?
Intermittent fasting (IF) has decades of scientific research behind it to prove that it works and I have seen first-hand the profound changes it makes, both physically and mentally. This method is easy, sustainable and realistic for every lifestyle.
Aside from being extremely effective for weight loss, it has numerous other health benefits – for example better blood sugar control, greater energy levels, improved sleep, a reduction in the risk of chronic and age-related diseases and increase in lifespan.
This is the preferred method of many of my patients. I use two different kinds of IF, the 4.3 plan (three fasting days over the course of a week) and also the 16.8 plan (16 hours of fasting within a 24 hour day – this includes overnight) depending on how much weight they want to lose. Both are fantastic but you should choose which one based on your target weight loss.
The biggest mistake people make is fasting all the time – constant calorie restriction – rather than intermittent, which is: you fast, then you eat. If you constantly fast then your metabolism will slow down and your weight loss will slow down so it will stop being as effective.
Why is sleep so important to our overall health?
Everything in the body recovers when you’re asleep. When you are awake your body struggles to do so because it’s focussed on different bodily processes. Sleep is also really important for your brain and for your memory. Your liver also has to detoxify when you are sleeping
Can diet affect one’s sleep?
Yes, hugely. Eating lots of sugary, processed foods will have a negative impact on your blood sugar levels by causing a spike and then a big dip. It’s really important that your evening meal is well composed, not too high in carbs like rice, potatoes, pasta, and always including plenty of protein (lean meat, dairy, eggs, fish, nuts, lentils, beans) and non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, kale, asparagus, spinach). Low fibre carbohydrates will spike the blood sugar levels, disrupting sleep, so give those a swerve. I would also advise keeping an eye on sugary puddings and one too many glasses of wine, both of which can throw a spanner in the blood sugar works.
Switch to healthy puddings such as fresh fruit or homemade ice cream made of yoghurt and berries. A couple of squares of dark chocolate is not terrible either.
What supplements would you recommend to improve sleep?
My favourite supplement is magnesium glycinate or malate, as they are easily absorbed by the body. Magnesium citrate has a mild laxative effect, so is beneficial if constipation is an issue. You could also consider magnesium in a powder form, as it may be easier to take a higher does than capsules. My favourite GP supplement is the GP Nutrition Gold because there are high levels of magnesium.
Why might someone have low energy?
Energy is incredibly important, you can’t function without it, it’s a fuel for everything that you do – from moving to keeping your heart beating and your metabolism going. Energy dips happen for two reasons, it may be that the last meal eaten wasn’t balanced or the gap between meals has been too long, causing blood sugar levels to drop and cravings to surge.
A similar thing is happening if hunger pangs start to rumble two hours after a meal. This is usually a sign that not enough protein, fat or fibre was included, as without them the energy produced by any carbohydrates eaten wears off too quickly.
Do you have any tips for boosting energy?
Blood sugar balance is key as energy is fuel. If the tank is empty your energy levels will not be balanced and we want to feel energetic throughout the day, we don’t want massive highs and dips. You want to keep it nice and balanced.
For blood sugar balancing I advise eating a portion of protein with every meal, including snacks; choosing carbohydrates that are high in fibre with a lower GI; and include a variety of healthy fats in your diet, with a focus on essential fatty acids.
‘2 Weeks to Feeling Great’ by Gabriela Peacock is published by Kyle Books, £20, gpnutrition.com
This advice is for information purposes only and should not replace a visit to your doctor or health care professional.
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