A Healthy Homemade Snack Recipe That Takes Apples To Another Level

Snacking can be the downfall of any attempt at a healthy diet. Opting for nibbles like chocolate, crisps and biscuits can quickly inflate your daily calorie count, and even healthier shop-bought options like protein bars and dried fruit can be teeth-tinglingly high in sugar.

Just as it’s easier to keep tabs on what you’re eating by cooking your own dinners rather than opting for microwave meals, making your own snacks ensures you’re not overloading on sugar, salt, fat and calories.

Whatever the source of your snacks, however, it’s important that they satisfy your mid-morning/mid-afternoon/late-night cravings, otherwise you’ll be back on the biscuits in no time. This spiced apple chips recipe – created by Dr Rupy Aujla (The Doctor’s Kitchen) as part of the Great British Apples #GoodnessToGo campaign – is packed full of flavour, making it the perfect solution to between-meal tummy rumblings. Make cooking a batch of these chips part of your Sunday evening routine and you’ll have a jar full of healthy snacks to take to the office come Monday morning.

Ingredients

  • 400g Braeburn apples
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground cardamom seeds
  • ½tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1tsp coconut oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan assisted) or gas mark 3.
  2. Mix the spices in a bowl.
  3. Thinly slice the apple into 1-2mm rounds and tap them so the seeds fall out.
  4. Cover the slices with the spice mix and place on a baking trays greased with coconut oil or lined with baking paper.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes until dry. Turn the apples halfway through for an even bake and take them out of the oven a bit early if you prefer them slightly chewy.
  6. Allow to cool and store in an airtight jar.

You can experiment with different spices to create your own apple chip variations. Ground cloves and nutmeg are other good options, or if you prefer your snacks to be savoury, try using ½tsp ground chilli, a pinch of salt, ½tsp black pepper and 1tsp ground cumin to make your spice mix.

How To Make It Through Your First Wolf Run In One Piece

There are a muddy-pit-full of obstacle course races you can choose to tackle nowadays, but the Wolf Run stands out for its use of natural obstacles. Sure, this may mean swimming across an unbelievably-ruddy-cold lake, but it also means a distinct lack of electric shocks.

Before the Wolf Run’s opening event of the season at Pippingford Park in East Sussex on 28th April, organiser and route tester Will Moreton offers these handy tips so you arrive prepared.

How To Train For A Wolf Run

“It is important that people are comfortable with running between 5K and 10K,” says Moreton. “It doesn’t have to be quick, but get the distance under your belt.”

RECOMMENDED: 5K Training | 10K Training

Once you’re comfortable with that distance, Moreton recommends heading off-road. “Training on grass at the park or on rural footpaths will help strengthen your stabiliser muscles and improve your balance. As you progress, include inclines and rougher trails where you have to choose your foot placement – this will help you on any woodland sections of the Wolf Run.”

Adding sprint intervals to your runs is a good way to train your body to recover quickly after tackling an obstacle. “Gradually build up the length and frequency of these sprints,” says Moreton. “Begin with 75% of your top speed and keep it going until you can feel yourself starting to slow down and then return to regular running speed. Make sure you are still able to keep moving because stopping to recover during a Wolf Run when you’re wet and muddy means getting cold.”

Obstacle course races are a uniquely full-body challenge, though, so if you think you could get through with strong legs alone you’re sorely mistaken. “Incorporate press-ups and core exercises at the end of your training runs before the warm-down,” says Moreton. “These lactic acid workouts are the best way to recreate the conditions of the race in your training.”

Then there’s an important bit of technique to work on. “You will find yourself crawling and scrambling a lot of the time,” says Moreton, and “moving quickly on your hands is a great skill to maintain speed through natural obstacles. Keep your back straight and your hips low for the best results, and try to use your forearms on the low crawls to spread upper body weight.”

As a bonus, throw in some sets of jump squats because this (and other) plyometric exercises will help you to develop dynamism. “I love to see people really attacking the obstacles,” says Moreton, metaphorically we presume.

Essential Gear

“Wearing the oldest pair of trainers you have is the most common mistake made by first-timers,” says Moreton. “You’ll see plenty of people slipping and struggling in the mud because they don’t have the right footwear. Go to a specialist running shop and find a trail shoe that will suit your gait and provide grip.”

RECOMMENDED: The Best Trail-Running Shoes

Once your feet are suitably shod, find something to slip onto your mitts. “You need your hands in good order to successfully tackle the monkey bars and climbing obstacles,” says Moreton. “The easiest way to do this is to wear gloves.”

And while the Wolf Run offers a fine range of merchandise, we’d suggest that if you’re not wearing the Three Wolf Moon tee over a base layer you’re missing a trick (although we will also accept this Game Of Thrones “Winter is Coming” T-shirt during the Winter Wolf Run).

The Wolf Run 2018 season begins 28th April at Pippingford Park, East Sussex. Buy tickets at thewolfrun.com/pippingford-park

One-Pan Chicken And Chorizo Recipe For An Easy, Healthy Dinner

When you’re trying to eat healthy, it’s reasonable to expect that to make a sacrifice somewhere in order to ensure that the dish is genuinely virtuous. You know, cutting out foods that taste great to guarantee the right nutrient profile, or spending ages using complex ingredients to tease out a bit of flavour. You’ll be glad to know that those fears are unfounded – you can make a healthy, tasty, easy one-pot dish like this. Just follow the simple instructions to make yourself an Iberian feast.

Ingredients (Serves Two)

  • 4 chicken leg
  • 50g chorizo, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1tsp herbes de Provence
  • 570ml chicken stock
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • Black pepper and cayenne pepper
  • Handful of new potatoes
  • Handful of parsley

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the chorizo until softened. Then add the chicken and fry on both sides until golden brown. Remove from the pan
  2. Add the onion, garlic, peppers and potatoes to the pan and cook until softened
  3. Return the meat to the pan and stir in the flour, chicken stock, tomatoes and herbs
  4. Season to taste, then place on the hob to simmer on low heat for one hour
  5. Garnish with parsley and serve.

The Best Smoothie Makers To Buy In 2018

Perhaps you’re checking out smoothie makers because you’re keen to improve your diet and you’ve clocked the healthy halo that shines above every smoothie. Well, we have good news for you: a small (that’s 150ml small) smoothie counts as one of your five-a-day. The inevitable bad news? You can continue drinking smoothies (and juices) all the live-long day and the powers that be consider that to still be a mere one portion of fruit and veg. That’s because blitzing fruit into smoothie form releases sugars from their natural state, and that’s not great for your teeth.

Still, opting for a smoothie maker over a juicer is a healthier choice. The former pulverises whole fruit and veg so you’ll benefit from their fibrous qualities, while many of the latter separate the juice from the pulp. And there’s also the chance to chuck in a range of other ingredients such as spices, nuts and seeds, which bring their own nutritional benefits.

But perhaps you want a smoothie maker because smoothies are simply delicious, thanks in no small part to the thick and comforting texture, and the fresh flavours of fruit and veg. Well here’s some more good news – there’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence (in moderation, see above).

Whatever your reasons, we’ve sifted through the best smoothie makers on the market to recommend five of the best gadgets for your kitchen.

Best Budget Blender: Breville Blend Active Personal

Available in a range of bold colours including hot pink, blue and lime green, this sporty-looking number is an absolute steal at £20. It comes with two 600ml plastic bottles that attach directly to the base so there’s no need to decant into another vessel if you’re taking it with you to the gym. The protein shaker-esque flip lids won’t look out of place either.

You may need to chop up chunkier ingredients first and you’ll probably need to blend for a little longer than some of its bigger, pricier rivals since the motor’s only 300 watts, but its compact size is great for small kitchens or crowded worktops. £20 (RRP £33), buy on Amazon

Quietest Powerful Blender: Sage By Heston Blumenthal The Boss To Go Blender

For the smoothest of smoothies, this Heston Blumenthal-endorsed appliance is a cut above the rest. The 1,000-watt motor pulverises fruit, vegetables (including tough leaves like kale and spinach), nuts and ice in an instant, but despite its mighty motor it’s pretty quiet. With a brushed aluminium base and stainless steel components, it’s reassuringly sturdy and comes with two shatter-resistant beakers and travel lids. The cups, lids and blade can all be thrown into the dishwasher and there’s a full-colour recipe book included so you’re never wanting for smoothie inspiration. £85, buy on John Lewis

Best Value Blender: Salter Nutri Pro 1000

This super-charged bullet-style blender originally retailed at £150 but is now widely available for less than £40. Its large, heavy base is fitted with a powerful 1,000-watt motor and while it may be a little loud, it’s very effective at chomping through fruit and veg. It comes with three blending receptacles: two 800ml cups and a taller one litre beaker. Salter’s also thrown in a handy recipe book of 50 concoctions to slurp your way through. £40 (RRP £150), buy on Amazon

Best Multi-Tasker Blender: Nutri Ninja Complete Kitchen System

In addition to making top-notch smoothies, the Nutri Ninja is also adept at chopping, slicing and shredding vegetables, kneading dough, and blending soups, purées and frozen drinks. Its Auto IQ programme lets you bung ingredients into a jug or cup, press a button and stand back as it works its magic. The beefy 1,500-watt motor offers an array of blending functions that blitz through ingredients in next to no time and it comes with a range of accessories including jugs, cups, blades, shredding and grating discs, and a feeding chute. Ironically for a product called Ninja, it’s very loud, but it deals with pretty much any task in a matter of seconds so the volume’s worth putting up with. £150 (RRP £200), buy on Argos

Best Compact Blender: Philips Daily Collection Mini Blender

This basic blender is powerful enough to blitz through fruit, vegetables, nuts, coffee and herbs with ease, and thanks to its small footprint it won’t take up much room on your worktop. The blade is detachable and you can pop all the removable parts in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. You’ll need to blend your ingredients together in the jug before pouring your smoothie into one of the drinking vessels provided: a sturdy beaker or a sports bottle with a flip-top lid. £30.49, buy on Amazon

Four Swimming Drills To Enliven Your Time In The Pool

Swimming is a phenomenal way to stay fit and active. No-one should need convincing of that. But if you’re a lapsed paddler who learned to swim as a kid and are just coming back to the pool, it can also be phenomenally boring – slogging away at the same speed with the same stroke.

To help make the whole experience more enjoyable and beneficial, Speedo has launched Mind Body Swim, a microsite that offers training plans tailored to four goals and your current level, as well nutritional and well-being advice.

If you just fancy dipping your toe in the water, though, throw one of these four swimming drills taken from Mind Body Swim workouts into your next session. To help you pick, we asked Speedo coach Dan Bullock to break down how each drill will benefit your technique, as well as common mistakes to look out for. But first…

When to do these drills

When you’re in the pool, obviously, but once you’ve warmed up Bullock recommends doing them either before or after a main block of swimming.

Doing them beforehand can help you to perform a stroke to the best of your ability and, as Bullock explains, “it makes sense to perform the drills while in a non-fatigued state so the body can adapt and make changes.”

Alternatively, Bullock says, “drills can also be of use after the main set as a way to polish a tired and exhausted swim technique ahead of leaving the pool. Ideally, you restore your technique ahead of finishing rather than leaving with a deteriorated technique.”

Swimming Drills

Tombstone

This macabre-sounding drill isn’t called the tombstone because it’s killer on the legs (although it could be). The name refers to the vertical position of the float in the water.

What it does: The increase in resistance from holding the board in this way will help to improve your leg strength and if you follow the technique points you’ll also develop a more powerful kick. “The two elements of better technique and strength in your legs will combine with your arm pull to assist your overall swim speed,” says Bullock.

Expert tips: Don’t keep your head up because this action will sink your hips and legs, making moving forwards harder. “Pop up quickly for air and return the head to the water face down,” advises Bullock.

“Start with a small amount of the float submerged. You can easily progress this by submerging the float fully.

“Don’t take bigger kicks thinking this will shift you forwards. Instead, take more frequent smaller kicks to remain streamlined in the water.”

BAFL

Patting your head and rubbing your stomach can baffle your brain, and so can the BAFL drill – initially at least. BAFL is an acronym that stands for breaststroke arms and front crawl legs.

What it does: “Swimming is a highly cerebral process,” says Bullock, “combining timing, rhythm, proprioception [your body’s positional sense], skill and co-ordination. To improve certain movements we can make them more challenging so that the normal movement comes easier.

“Combining breaststroke arms and front crawl legs does this to an extent. By not rotating the body as you would for front crawl you can focus on a continuous leg kick. Often, during full stroke front crawl, the legs develop a pause linked to breathing.”

Expert tips: “The usual issues with this drill are keeping the head up and facing forwards which will increase resistance, combined with an arm movement that is too big,” says Bullock. “During the pull, don’t allow the hands to travel behind the chin. Sweep your hands out, around and into the chin area as you start to look down and push your arms forwards. Kicks should be strong and continuous with no dead spots.”

Punch

Bad news, you do not get to take your pent-up aggression on the water – this drill doesn’t encourage furious splashing (save that for your bath). Worse news, using clenched fists instead of open hands makes swimming as difficult as it sounds. Good news, your front crawl technique is going to improve tremendously.

What it does: “Taking the hand away makes front crawl much harder,” says Bullock. “Everything else needs to work a little harder to compensate. Ideally, it encourages the swimmer to pull with the forearm to offset the missing hand, which promotes an early pivot at the elbow and vertical forearm. The body is very clever at making up for what is missing!

“Vary this by swimming with just one fist clenched for a half-length to note differences in arm movements, pathways under the body and speed of pull.”

Expert tips: “Just because your hand is clenched does not mean your arm pull will be perfect,” cautions Bullock. “Avoid pushing down with a straight arm and pivoting at the shoulder as this will boost the head up and limit forward propulsion. Instead, pivot your arm at the elbow and roll your knuckles to point down early just as your fingertips would with a normal pull.

“Fins might make this a little easier and of course you don’t have to attempt a full length using this drill. Performing two or three strokes with fists clenched before opening and closing them can help you feel a stronger pull on the water.”

Superman

There is nothing wrong with humming the Superman theme tune to yourself while trying this drill that helps you to get a feel for how you should rotate and elongate your body during front crawl. There’s also nothing wrong with using fins and a float – none of us is actual Superman.

What it does: “The perfect front crawl isn’t swum flat with shoulders horizontal to the surface of the water,” says Bullock. “Instead, rotating your upper body from side to side lowers your frontal profile, which creates less drag and elevates the trailing shoulder, enabling easier breathing.

“This simple-looking drill is actually quite tricky to do well but it does encourage an enhanced body position in the water and prompts you to breathe on both sides.”

Expert tips: Work on finding that Goldilocks zone. “If the kick is not quite strong enough then it is not easy to elevate your trailing shoulder above the surface,” says Bullock. “But too much violent kicking will see the upper body and shoulder rocking from side to side.

“Try not to look to the side when performing this drill – you want your face down as you would when swimming the full front crawl. Keep your head still until you need to breathe. Your lead arm should be parallel to the surface but not at the surface pointing up from a lower shoulder position exposing the arm and adding drag.”

For sets, laps and full workouts, sign up for Mind Body Swim at speedo.com

How To Do The Zottman Curl

The forearms are neither the easiest nor the most exciting part of your body to train. They don’t look good in beach photos and only impress in social situations when you get a chance to show off your awesome grip strength with a firm handshake.

That doesn’t mean you should neglect them, however, because a strong grip will be a major boon when you attempt all manner of other lifts, not to mention life-or-death situations. Should you ever find yourself hanging from a ledge, you’ll definitely regret spending all your time on squats when you could have been building stronger forearms.

If you’re still not convinced of the merits of forearm training, the Zottman curl might be a good way to ease yourself in, because the exercise also helps build bulging biceps while working your lower arms. In fact, because you rotate the dumbbell as you perform the curl you hit the entire biceps group of muscles. That’s greater functional strength and bigger mirror muscles courtesy of one simple exercise. Why isn’t everyone doing Zottman curls?

How To Do The Zottman Curl

Hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides with your palms facing. Curl the weights up to your shoulders, keeping your upper arms still and turning your hands so your palms face up as you lift. Pause at the top of the movement and slowly rotate your grip so your palms are facing downwards. Lower the dumbbells slowly back to the starting position using this overhand grip, counting for three to five beats as you lower the weight to make sure you’re not moving it too quickly. When the dumbbells are close to your thighs again, turn your hands so your palms are in the starting position facing one another. You can perform Zottman curls with both arms at the same time, or alternate the arm you lift with.

Don’t go heavy because the slow lowering section of the Zottman curl will quickly become impossible if you overdo the weight, and the dumbbells will descend too fast. That said, if you do want a target weight to build up to, 19th-century strongman George Zottman – the man the exercise is named after – used to do it with 22.5kg weights.

The New Fitbit Versa Smartwatch Is Coming In April And It Looks Ace

In the six months since the launch of the Fitbit Ionic smartwatch – the best Fitbit by a country mile – it seems the most well known maker of fitness trackers has been busy, because they’ve just announced another smartwatch, the Fitbit Versa, which will go on sale in April and is available to pre-order now.

The Versa is almost exactly the same as the Ionic but for five key differences, three of which are bona fide improvements.

  1. It’s lighter. In fact, according to Fitbit, it’s the lightest metal smartwatch out there.
  2. The Versa swaps built-in GPS for connected GPS, so to accurately track your run or ride and follow your pace on the device’s screen you’ll have to bring along your smartphone and the Versa will piggyback off of that.
  3. The quoted battery life has dropped from five days to four, but that’s still good for a smartwatch and we found the Ionic sometimes lasted beyond five days.
  4. The Versa has dropped the wider metal frame around the top and bottom of the screen and it looks a damn sight sharper for it.
  5. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, at £200 the Versa costs £100 less than the Ionic. Would you spend an extra three figures for another day’s battery life and leaving your phone at home when you run?

Combine these changes with the waterproof casing and swim tracking, heart-rate monitor, sharp screen resolution and the smartwatch features inherited from the Ionic, and the Versa makes a strong case for being the best fitness smartwatch out there.

Those smartwatch features include onboard memory to store music and play it through Bluetooth headphones, and today Fitbit announced a new partnership with Deezer premium to sync playlists to the watch so they can be listened to offline. Fitbit smartwatches also relay notifications from any app on your phone and Android users have also been promised an upgrade with the addition of a quick reply to texts feature.

And while Fitbit Pay, which should let you use the watch like a contactless card, only works if you’re with one of only two challenger banks in the UK at the moment, the selection of apps has been slowly improving with name brands like The New York Times, Yelp and Hue smart lighting joining the fray. Plus, there is an ever-growing selection of watch faces to choose from.

Then there’s all that other Fitbit good stuff, like the best sleep tracking around, a cardio fitness score that’s VO2 max in all but name, automatic recognition of exercise, as well as more badges, reminders to move and challenges than you can shake a stick at.

Yep, we’re feeling pretty good about this new Fitbit. We’ll get our hands on one as soon as possible and let you know if it lives up to the (ahem, our) hype.

£200, pre-order on fitbit.com

How To Do The Pallof Press

It’s a well established fact that you don’t need to move to build a stronger core. Planks and all manner of other hold exercises can strengthen your core muscles, often far more effectively than rattling off 100 sit-ups.

The Pallof press is anti-rotation hold exercise that will work wonders in helping you develop a stable core. It’s an especially good move for those training for sports where you’re expected to spin on a sixpence at speed, because it helps build the core strength to cope with twists and turns without getting injured. Furthermore, if you like your functional workouts to come with a side of aesthetics, the Pallof press will become your new favourite, because it will sharpen up your exterior abs and obliques just as much as the interior core muscles.

How To Do The Pallof Press

How you do the Pallof press depends on what equipment you have to hand – you will need either a resistance band or, if you’re in the gym, a cable machine. It’s slightly easier to do with the latter, but if you can secure a resistance band to something at around shoulder height – something stable, a floor lamp isn’t going to cut it – then that works just as well. With a cable machine it’s best to attach a standard handle at around shoulder height.

Grasp the handle (or one end of the resistance band) in both hands and hold it against your chest. Stand or kneel side-on to the cable machine with your feet hip-width apart, then step away so the cable becomes taut. Engage your core and press the handle out with both hands so your arms are extended in front of your chest. Hold this position, resisting the pull of the cable and not letting your torso rotate towards the machine, for five to ten seconds then bring the handle back in to your chest. Do all your reps facing in one direction, then turn and stand with your other side to the machine. Alternatively, you can hold the press for as long as possible, rather than doing reps.

If you’re looking to increase the challenge of the Pallof press, move your feet closer together. Having a narrower base forces your core work even harder to keep your torso steady.

How To Do The Dumbbell Bench Press

We don’t want to come over all fitness hipster here, but frankly, the barbell bench press is not an effective enough chest exercise to justify its massive popularity. It’s a great exercise, sure, but its place as a workout staple is perhaps down to the fact that benching a big weight is as good for the ego as it is for your muscles.

If you’re ready to look beyond the bench press, we have suggestions for five chest exercises you should do instead – one of which is the dumbbell bench press. That’s right, all you need to do to improve on the bench press is to switch out the barbell for a brace of dumbbells, especially if you’re looking to bulk up your chest.

Using dumbbells allows a greater range of motion than using a barbell and this in turn means you can work more of the pec muscles during the exercise. Your pecs are the main muscles targeted by the exercise, but as an added bonus it also works your triceps. Opting for dumbbells also trains each side in isolation, so you can’t rely on a stronger side to muscle up the weight like you can when using a barbell. If you do find that one side is struggling when using dumbbells, you can then focus on building your strength on that side to balance your body.

How To Do The Dumbbell Bench Press

Lie back on a bench holding a dumbbell in each hand just to the sides of your shoulders. Your palms should be facing towards your feet in the starting position, although if you have shoulder issues then switch to a neutral grip, where the palms face each other.

Press the weights above your chest by extending your elbows until your arms are straight, then bring the weights back down slowly. To take advantage of the range of movement offered by using dumbbells rather than a barbell, take the weights down past your shoulders and bring them closer together at the top of the movement. Don’t touch them at the top, though, because that will take some of the strain off your muscles.

Is Your Favourite Drink Healthy?

Getting your diet right is fundamental to improving your health, physique and performance. Anyone with the slightest interest in their own body knows that. But when it comes to what you drink, things get a bit more… fluid.

It’s all too easy, for instance, to undo a day’s healthy eating with one large mochaccino, or to kid yourself that calories from beer don’t really count while forgetting that, since they’re mostly coming from sugar, you’re setting yourself up for a fat-storing insulin spike with every gulp. The average American, according to research published in the Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, consumes around 400 calories in liquid form a day, and the UK isn’t far behind – and with drink sizes creeping up, it’s only going to get worse.

On the flipside, there are definite benefits to drinking your calories… if you’re doing it properly. The same reasons drinking can be problematic – it’s quick, and it’s easier than eating when on the go – can also make it a handy way to help you hit your goals. If you’re trying to add strength or size and you’re struggling to hit your daily macro totals, adding milk to your protein shake is a no-brainer. If you’re trying to eat an extra daily portion or two of vegetables, getting them in juice or form isn’t necessarily ideal, but it’s a lot better than neglecting them entirely.

And, of course, if you’re trying to get your body to run like a well-oiled machine, good old H20 is the only lubricant you need. So sit down, raise a glass, and recalibrate your fluid intake today. It might be the only tweak you need to get a body worth drinking to.

Water

The bad Almost nothing: it’s the bringer of life, and essential for a whole host of your body’s most important processes. Yes, you can theoretically overdose – more than two litres an hour isn’t recommended – but a more likely problem is that while glugging, you won’t take in enough electrolytes to undo the damage of dehydration. Fix it by lightly salting your food with Himalayan pink salt: it has more trace minerals than standard table salt.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Hydration Tabs

The good Everything else. Proper hydration improves blood flow, kidney function and cognition, as well as keeping the body’s processes online for better fat loss and improved sleep. It can also aid fullness – worth bearing in mind if you’re trying to resist the lure of the snack drawer.

Alternative sources Technically, there aren’t any, though the European Food Safety Authority now recommends that 20-30% of your daily intake should come from food.

If you’re going to drink it… Keep it regular. If you’re used to sitting at your desk for extended periods, set a phone reminder app to let you know it’s time to grab a glass. Want to go more low-tech? Take a swig every time you put the kettle on or have a snack, preferably before anything else passes your lips.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Reusable Water Bottles

30% – How much drinking cold water boosted subjects’ metabolisms in a study in the Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology. Researchers concluded that the body expended the extra energy by raising the water’s temperature

Milk

The bad It depends on your constitution. “Milk can cause inflammation and be hard to digest, which in turn can have a negative effect on your hormones,” says trainer, nutritionist and Multipower ambassador Ant Nyman. Your tolerance of the milk sugar lactose can vary depending on DNA, with the odd evolutionary quirk making you better (or worse) able to digest it. If you’re unsure, a mini-elimination diet is cheaper than DNA testing. Cut it out for a fortnight, then bring it back and note any differences in energy or body fat.

RECOMMENDED: Is Milk Good For You?

The good It’s a fine source of calcium, potassium and vitamin D – and a cheap way to load up on casein, which can give you a solid slow-digesting hit of protein if you take it in your whey shake.

Alternative sources If intolerance is a problem, goat’s milk has comparable calcium and protein to cow’s milk, but it’s easier to digest because of lower lactose levels. “Alternatively, try some of the new milk alternatives like rice, hemp and almond,” suggests nutritionist and anti-ageing expert Rick Hay. “Almond is high in vitamin E, while hemp is packed with omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, betacarotene, iron and essential amino acids.”

If you’re going to drink it… For an occasional splosh in tea, any milk is fine but if you’re a more hardcore consumer, consider investing in quality. According to a study published in the Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, drinking full-fat dairy products can actually lower your risk of heart attack – if the cows were grass-fed, which increases their milk’s concentration of the healthy fat CLA.

Fizzy drinks

The bad You know this one already. “Regular fizzy drinks are laced with sugar,” says Mary Cotter, nutritional therapist at Nuffield Health. “There can be up to ten teaspoons of sugar in one can. Sugar triggers the release of fat-storing hormone insulin, and wreaks havoc with energy. Some fizzy drinks contain caffeine, and the combination of sugar and caffeine puts the body on ‘high alert’, triggers the release of stress hormones, and creates energy slumps. They are not suitable for hydration during exercise because of the high sugar content.” So… pretty bad.

Even in “diet” versions, the artificial sweeteners interfere with hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin, changing how our gut and brain communicate and telling our brain we are hungry when we are not. According to multiple studies, diet drink consumers tend to pack on the calories elsewhere.

The good Yes, there are benefits to using some soft drinks as fuel – but that doesn’t mean swigging Dr Pepper before a 20-minute jog around the park. “If you are planning on exercising for 90 minutes or more, you could benefit from an isotonic sports drink – they provide both carbohydrate and electrolytes to maintain glycogen stores and speed up hydration,” says Cotter. “Don’t confuse them with ‘energy’ drinks, which contain too much sugar and can hinder hydration.”

Alternative sources If all you want is a fizzy pick-me-up, a squeeze and/or slice of lemon or lime in sparkling water should be your go-to: it has a slight insulin-blunting effect, as well as hydrating you. Alternatively, go classy. “Switch to kombucha,” suggests Cotter. “It’s a slightly fizzy fermented tea which comes with a host of gut-friendly bacteria, and it’s great for supporting the immune system during heavy workouts and keeping your gut happy on a long run. You could even switch the Friday wine for kombucha and ice in a wine glass.” Kombucha’s available from health food stores in a variety of natural flavours – and it’s easy and cheap to make your own if you want.

If you’re going to drink them… At least save them for training days (and preferably around your workouts), when your body will use some of the sugar to replace glycogen stores. Or go diet, and have a healthy snack on hand – a handful of walnuts will do it – to save your body from getting too confused.

Beer

The bad Don’t believe what you’ve been told about beer’s ability to lower blood pressure, improve cognition or reduce the risk of kidney stones. Yes, there are small, inconclusive studies suggesting that beer can help with any of them, but the calorie hike and increased risk of alcohol-related accidents easily offset any possible benefits.

The good Not much. “There are some social and psychological benefits of alcohol,” says Cotter. “The occasional drink with friends can be a social tonic – but so could heading out for a game of five-a-side or a walk with your wife.” And the other benefits are fairly limited. “Moderate amounts of alcohol have been shown to raise levels of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol,” says Cotter. “For a 60-year-old man, one drink a day may offer protection against heart disease that is likely to outweigh potential harm.”

Alternative sources Yes, there’s vitamin B in beer – thank the brewing process – but not so fast: there’s also evidence that alcohol blocks its bioavailability, mitigating those effects. Get it from eggs instead.

If you’re going to drink it… Keep it to the NHS recommendations: 14 units or less a week, and preferably less than four a day. Try to have two consecutive days off each week to let your liver get to grips with the damage, and give it a helping hand. “Increase your intake of liver-supportive foods and antioxidants such as beetroot, B vitamins, green tea, as well as cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower and brussels sprouts,” says Cotter. “If you fancy a beer, make a cauliflower and chickpea curry to have with it, steam-fry cabbage with ginger and oyster sauce, or put kale in a salad. Or juice a beetroot with carrot, orange and ginger for a chaser.”

RECOMMENDED: The Best Non-Alcoholic Beer

Coffee

The bad There’s some, but most of it comes under the category “optional extras”. “If you’re loading up on milk, sugar, foam or whipped cream, you aren’t doing yourself any favours,” says Nyman. Drinking it to excess can also cause restlessness or insomnia – or decrease its effectiveness as a stimulant. There’s no evidence that the caffeine “taper” practised by some cyclists actually work – but you should still cap your intake at two or three cups per day.

The good It’s a workout aid. According to one PubMed study, it can improve performance by up to 12%. Caffeine also helps fat cells break down body fat and use it as fuel for training, and there’s some evidence that in moderate doses coffee can prevent stroke and certain forms of cancer.

RECOMMENDED: Is Coffee Good For You?

Alternative sources For cancer protection, colourful veg is key; for a caffeine hit, green or black tea will do the trick. If you’re feeling low on energy in the mornings, though, fixing your light levels might be as effective as chugging an Americano: install the F.Lux app to filter the blue light out of your screens at night, then try to get a hit of sunshine early in the morning.

If you’re going to drink it… Time it properly. “Trial and error is best here, but most people benefit from having a black coffee or an espresso ten to 20 minutes before a workout,” says Nyman. “Avoid having coffee later in the day – it’ll get your heart racing when you’re supposed to be settling down and getting ready to sleep. Sleep is a vital part of achieving the body and health you desire, so take it seriously.”

Fruit juice

The bad It takes out all the good parts. “Fruit in its natural form is high in fibre, aids digestion and provides vitamins,” says Nyman. “In fruit juice form, however, much of the fibre has been removed – you’re simply slurping on sugar.”

The good “If you’re going to have fruit juice, the best time is post-workout when the high sugar content would go some way towards refilling glycogen levels that have been depleted during your workout,” says Nyman. “Cranberry juice is a good option because it’s high in helpful antioxidants.”

Alternative sources For vitamin C and antioxidants, go straight to the source: eat your fruit without processing, or whizz it into a smoothie where the fibre content stays (mostly) intact. Or take the hipster option: “Cold-pressed juice is a much healthier choice,” says Hay. “It keeps more of the fibre and nutrient content intact, and that will help with digestive function and to keep blood sugar levels more steady.”

RECOMMENDED: The Best Juicers

If you’re going to drink it… Choose wisely, and don’t stick to fruit. Beetroot juice is the pros’ pick: beets contain high levels of nitrates, which the body converts into nitrate oxide – boosting endurance and improving performance during high-intensity exercise. Drinking 500ml a couple of hours before exercise can give you a 2% increase in cardio economy.

Wine

The bad If you’re serious about gains, a glass or two a day is too much. “Even low intakes of alcohol can affect your muscles,” says Cotter. “Alcohol slows muscle recovery because it is a diuretic and this leads to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, increasing your risk of cramps and muscle strains.” Booze also interferes with sleep quality, creating a spike in cortisol which wakes you up too early and reduces the body’s recovery time. Binge drinking can also reduce testosterone levels – and, of course, it’s a source of empty calories, which aren’t ideal for fuelling for your efforts. Leave 48 hours between boozing and any serious training session.

The good Are you sitting down? “There’s nothing proven,” says Cotter. “The so-called French Paradox – which attributes the low incidence of cardiovascular disease in France to wine, among other things – actually probably arises from a number of factors, such as the tendency to consume fewer calories, sugar and fried food, coupled with a healthier work/life balance in comparison with other developed nations – not just drinking red wine.”

RECOMMENDED: Is Red Wine Good For You?

Alternative sources Perhaps you’re drinking it for the resveratrol, the much-touted wonder-nutrient found in most glasses of red? The truth is, other sources do it better. “You can get resveratrol by eating any dark red or purple fruit or vegetables,” says Cotter. “Red grapes don’t need to be fermented into wine to do the job, and blueberries, peanuts and dark chocolate all work too.”

If you’re going to drink it… The units-per-week rules of booze still apply, but also consider the damage that you’re doing to your folate levels. “Folate plays a role in preventing cell mutation – a risk factor for cancer – and alcohol blocks its absorption,” says Cotter. “If you choose to drink, consider eating more dark green leafy vegetables daily. Throw some spinach in a smoothie, or kale in your stir-fry.”