More diets have come and gone than you can shake a grocery cart at, but experts keep coming back to one as the most reliable for promoting health and longevity. No, it’s not the ‘plant-based, whole foods’ way of eating (or whatever Netflix’s shady The Game Changers was trying to shill). Once again, the Mediterrean Diet has been crowned the most healthy diet for humans, and also one of the easiest to follow.
We can see why. The Mediterrean Diet is typically high in whole foods, grains, vegetables and healthy fats like olive oils, along with moderate intake of poultry, fish and seafood. Red meat is restricted to an occasional treat. Another bonus of following this diet? Eating more veggies and less animals will help save the Earth.
2. To Burn Fat, Build Muscle
Forget about going to the gym to run off last night’s dessert. If you truly want to keep the weight off, invest your workouts in building muscle. Why? Because muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does – even at rest – which means the more muscle you have, the more calories your body is burning at all times.
But you don’t have to turn into a bulky Amazonian warrior princess for this to work. You simply need to focus on building lean muscle all over your body by doing compound exercises. Give the gym classics a go – deadlifts, squats, bench presses and the like. They are all pretty safe, as long as you’re not overloading the barbell.
Building muscle also helps strengthen your bones, in turn cutting your risks of osteoporosis in old age.
3. To Eat Healthier, Add, Not Subtract
We’re often caught between the desire to eat healthier (whatever that means), and the deprivation we’ve been conditioned to accept comes with it. Cutting out sugar, fat and processed foods and replacing it with dry chicken breast and tasteless lettuce is a thoroughly joyless exercise, yet we make ourselves go through it. No wonder most of us give up.
But we’ve got it all wrong. Improving our diet doesn’t mean just giving up the things we love. What you do eat is as important as what you don’t. For example, adding a side of steamed vegetables to your chicken rice gives you a tastier and more nutritionally dense meal, and sure beats suffering through a plate of skinless breast meat.
Now, the idea is to include more healthful choices in your meals. This makes it easier for you to find healthy, more satisfying substitutes, which can help stave off unhealthy cravings.
Ultimately, it’s about empowering yourself to enjoy a wide range of foods.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Singapore’s sleep-deprived status doesn’t seem like it’ll be put to rest anytime soon, judging by our continued insistence on working longer hours than most. But chronic sleep deprivation isn’t just a sleepy nuisance, it’s downright dangerous for your health.
Numerous studies have found that chronic sleep loss in adults (less than 7 hours per night), has been associated with increased risks of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and other serious conditions.
Sleep loss also affects your mood, your judgment, and your ability to focus, which can lead to errors or poor decision making at your job. So stop reading and go to bed already.
5. Eat Your Eggs
Have you heard? Eggs are ok to eat once again.
For the longest time, we’ve been staying away from eggs because of cholesterol concerns. In the process, we deprive ourselves of one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Not only are eggs an inexpensive source of complete protein, they also come packed with important micronutrients, such as selenium, zinc and iron, as well as important B vitamins.
But what about the cholesterol? Well, it’s been found that consuming eggs do not affect blood cholesterol in most people. A study of over 260,000 people also did not find an increase in risk of cardiovascular disease among egg eaters.
6. Measure Your Waist Rather Than Your Weight
Excess belly fat has been found to be particularly dangerous, especially if it accumulates around your internal organs. For that reason, some health practitioners think your waist measurements is a more important indicator of your health than your overall weight.
But those with slim stomachs aren’t necessarily off the hook. A slim profile may hide visceral fat, which is fat stored in your abdominal cavity. In either case, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor for a plan to reduce your visceral and/or belly fat.
7. Take Annual Leave
With two-thirds of Singaporeans feeling vacation deprived according to The Straits Times report, and even a higher proportion (77%) willing to take a pay cut in exchange for more leave, it’s clear we’re a pretty stressed out bunch. And we know that long-term stress is a killer, being linked to increased risks for all manner of serious diseases.
So perhaps the most important wellness tip we can give you for 2020 is to take your annual leave to get away from the constant stress of work, so you can unwind and recharge. It’ll do you more good than yet another day of unpaid OT for your unappreciative jerk of a boss, girl.
8. Cultivate Relationships for Healthier and Longer Lives
Not only did social media fail spectacularly in bringing people closer together, it has now turned into a major source of anxiety, loneliness and envy.
That’s why wellness experts urge the cultivation of close relationships, citing that those who do live healthier, longer lives. So it might be a good idea to ditch Instagram every once in a while in exchange for a real world meet-up with your Uni mates.