6:45 AM: Get Some Early Exercise
"Studies show that most people who wear pedometers clock up more steps before lunch compared to after lunch," says accredited dietitian Kate Di Prima. "Morning exercise raises your heart rate and metabolism early to give you physical energy for hours, so from that perspective it also helps burn more calories throughout the day." Depending on where you live, there are also generally lower pollution levels in the morning.
7:30 AM: Have Breakfast
"Eating breakfast kick-starts your metabolism -- especially since we don't eat for around ten hours overnight," says Di Prima. "Eggs are a high-satiety food and good to begin the day with."
Keep your carbohydrate intake light at breakfast if you're trying to lose weight; think one slice of wholegrain toast instead of two, and include beans or spinach rather than the empty calories of white bread, jam and butter.
"Aim to get 25 percent of your total day's calories at breakfast, with five other small meals throughout the day. Think breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper -- and two dainty snacks -- like a princess!"
9:00 AM: Skip the Morning Latte
Forgo the large, full-fat latte in favor of a small, skim latte, or better still, try tea. "This will save a lot of calories," says naturopath Kevin Griffiths. "It will also help keep sugar cravings in check, and blood sugar levels on an even keel."
11:00 AM: Ditch the Juice
Have an apple instead. "A glass of apple juice has the calories of almost three apples," says Di Prima. Studies also show that regular fruit juice intake may increase diabetes risk by 50% due to massive sugar hits. "Also, the fiber -- which is what helps you fill up faster -- is left out of the juice. By making this one swap you'll save calories every day."
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1:00 PM: Love Your Lunch
"Don't eat at your desk. Get outside, go for a walk and be conscious when you do eat of what's going into your mouth," says Di Prima. "If you want to cut carbs, have a stir-fry with extra sprouts and vegies, but ask for fewer noodles. Eat fish with salad instead of fries, and if you must have bread, ditch the top of the sandwich and have it open."
Plus: What's for Dinner? Try a Quick Stir-Fry Recipe!
3:00 PM: Avoid the Afternoon Sugar Slump
If you don't want to look like the Michelin Man, drink water and avoid soft drinks. A Harvard study of 6000 people found that drinking just one soft drink a day (diet or standard) increased the risk of obesity by 31%. And now there's more evidence that diet drinks are as bad as normal ones; one university study found that rats fed artificially sweetened drinks for ten days gained more weight than those fed sugar-sweetened drinks.
Researchers theorize that when you eat artificial sweeteners, your body prepares for a large intake of calories. When these fail to materialize, your body demands food by making you feel hungry.
Di Prima agrees. "Soft drinks are liquid candy. Aim to make water the main drink that passes your lips, outside of a daily coffee and a glass or two of skim or low-fat milk. And aim for a maximum three or four glasses of wine or beer per week.
"Beat sugar and salt slumps by having solid food snacks at your desk, such as low-fat yogurt or fresh fruit."
4:00 PM: Breathe Easier
Although morning exercise suits many people, for athletes looking for that extra endurance -- or for those who are asthmatic or easily exhausted -- working out between 4pm and 5pm may be best. One study of 4800 people by the American College of Chest Physicians found that lung function peaks (at about 20% higher) during this period, with midday exercise returning the lowest lung function.
"The main thing is to exercise at a time that's best for you," says Rob Daly, an exercise physiologist from the University of Melbourne. "For people with depression, sunlight on the eyeballs in the morning is good. For others, afternoon works better. The main thing is to do it -- not just think about it."
7:00 PM: Enjoy a Drink
There have been countless studies trumpeting the health benefits of moderate daily alcohol intake (emphasis on "moderate"), with wines -- especially the newer organic breeds – linked to reductions in arterial and cardiovascular diseases. So go ahead, we're not saints or robots.
But try to aim for low-alcohol (and therefore low-calorie) varieties, and don't be fooled by the latest low-carb beers; it's the calories that count, and there's actually little difference in calories content between standard beer and the low-carb varieties.
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8:30 PM: Stop Eating
"Unless you are an insulin-dependent diabetic, it's better not to eat two to three hours before bed," says Di Prima. "If you are tempted, give your body an 'automatic' brain signal that eating is over for the night. This might include washing the dishes, putting away all the leftovers and flossing and cleaning your teeth thoroughly. If you've done this, you're less likely to be tempted to put anything but herbal tea past your lips late at night."