Christmas revolves around all the important F-words.
Family, friends, festivities, fun and food.
But while everything might go to pot on Christmas day, there are a lot of parties to hit before that, and a lot of slinky dresses to slip into. So when should you start getting in shape?
According to HuffPost UK blogger and personal trainer Charli Cohen: "Christmas is only 7 weeks away, so if you want to make a noticeable difference in time for the party season, now is the time to start."
"As winter is approaching, outings to ice rinks and skiing are a lot of fun," says celebrity trainer and HuffPost UK blogger Hayley Newton. "They burn lots of calories, providing a hidden workout while enjoying a social activity with friends. Exercising can fit into your lifestyle and can be fun, so take advantage of the winter season and use it to get fit. Pick activities that fit the season rather than ones that fight it."
We pulled together a potted history of five of the most popular diets around. Take a look...
The Dukan Diet allows you to lose weight without counting calories and without getting hunger pangs. In theory.
As a hyper protein diet - most famous for being allegedly favoured by Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, before her wedding - it is based on a list of over 100 allowed foods, as well as four specific phases.
The initial attack phase (a 'pure protein' phase) is said to be the most difficult one, only allowing the consumption of lean protein foods like lean meats and fat free dairy foods.
The cruise phase alternates pure protein days with days where non-starchy vegetables are added.
The consolidation phase has some added carbs and there is still one pure protein day a week but on other days the protein, vegetables and one serving of fruit, two slices of 100% whole wheat bread and one serving of cheese.
The permanent stabilization phase is pretty self-explanatory - there are three rules to follow: pure protein every Thursday, three tablespoons of oat bran per day and preferably walking instead of taking the stairs or elevators.
Typical Daily Menu
Breakfast: warm drink (no sugar, can use sweetener or skimmed milk) with low fat yoghurt with oat bran
Lunch: steamed fish/grilled chicken breast with herbs plus low fat cottage cheese
Tea: tea or coffee, no sugar with oat bran muffins
Dinner: oat bran chicken nuggets/peppered steak
The 5:2 diet is Europe's favorite regime, mostly because it generates results quickly, and if you're prone to overeating, it is probably the easiest one to stick to.
It involves calorie restriction for two non-consecutive days a week, which means you can pig out the other five days.
The diet requires "fasting" for two days a week, (not to be confused with its literary meaning) but allows normal calorie intake the other five days.
On fasting days men may eat 600 calories and women 500.
Celebrities like Miranda Kerr and Hugh Jackman are big fans too.
Typical Fasting Day Daily Menu
Breakfast: 300kcal - for instance two scrambled eggs with ham, green tea, black coffee and of course water
Lunch/Dinner: 300 kcal - grilled meat or fish with vegetables
Atkins Diet claims that you'll lose 15 pounds within two weeks while eating lots of fatty foods.
It is a low-carbohydrate diet consisting of fours phases - induction, ongoing weight loss, pre-maintenance and lifetime maintenance.
The idea is to limit the consumption of carbohydrates to switch the body's metabolism from focusing on glucose as energy over to converting stored body fat to energy.
Therefore sugars and starchy foods like potatoes, white bread, and rice are not allowed, whereas protein and fat like meat and eggs are encouraged.
The phases allow you to slowly build up calorie intake, starting off with very little and a great body for life should be achieved by simply steering clear of sugar and potatoes, while indulging in all the fat in the world.
Typical Daily Menu
Breakfast: fried egg and bacon, cup of decaff coffee with single cream
Lunch: chicken breast topped with melted mozzarella, mixed lettuce leaves with some olive oil
Dinner: pan-fried steak with spinach and sour cream
The Paleo Diet is a diet based on what cavemen ate in stone age times. You'll be eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups our ancestors would have eaten - including fresh meats, fish, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthy oils.
However, it does restrict all "inflammatory" foods like grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugar and processed foods.
The diet also claims to ward off diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure.
Typical Daily Menu
Breakfast: kale and kiwi green smoothie
Lunch: grilled chicken strips and asparagus
Dinner: grilled tuna with celery
Gluten Free Diet
A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes foods containing gluten. Gluten is a protein complex found in wheat (might also exclude oats) and makes some people prone to bloating.
It is recommended to people suffering from coeliac disease (gluten intolerance) but for non-sufferers, there is some debate as to whether they benefit from gluten-free diets.
Common foods that have gluten include pasta, bread, cakes, pastries, cereal, beer, dressings, sauces.
However, there is a common misconception that anything labeled "gluten-free" must be good for you - desserts can still be bad for you if they are laden with sugar, but there is a natural way to go gluten-free with a diet rich in whole foods, vegetables and lean protein.
A wide selection of gluten-free baked products (made from corn, rice, soy, nut or potato flour) are available to you.
Typical Daily Menu
Breakfast: cereal (labeled Gluten Free) and dairy free milk, piece of fruit
Lunch: gluten free hot dogs, steamed vegetable (cauliflower, broccoli, beans) and sweet boiled carrots
Dinner: meatloaf, oven fries, green beans and fruit salad
One last thing to keep in mind is that moderation is key.
You don't necessarily have to jump into these diets right away, they could just inspire you to try indulging in food consciously this holiday season.
Diet and fitness should go hand in hand, so it is crucial to incorporate a little bit of exercise into your every day life - try going for a walk on a cold winter morning all bundled up with your loved ones.
Is The High Salt Count In Low-Calorie Frozen Meals Really That Problematic?
Sorry guys, but you need to put down the frozen burrito. In sad news for boob-tubers everywhere, it's important to know that your beloved TV dinner can have distressingly high sodium levels. Why so dangerous? Because the average American should only intake up to 1500-2300 mg of salt daily (depending on age and health profile), and some nuke-able meals hit that mark in just one sitting. That means increased risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, even kidney failure -- all reasons to skip the salt lick and opt for fresh meals or leftovers instead. Trust us, "The Bachelor" can wait the extra 10 or 15 minutes it takes to cook up a healthier meal choice. Here's lookin' at you, DVR! <strong>More From YouBeauty.com:</strong> <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/quizzes/eating-style" target="_hplink">QUIZ: What's Your Eating Style?</a> <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/nutrition/fat-free-weight-gain" target="_hplink">Are Low-Fat Foods Making You Fat?</a> <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/quizzes/healthy-skin" target="_hplink">QUIZ: How Healthy is Your Skin? </a>
Is It Better To Eat Non-Organic Fruit Than No Fruit At All?
Well, it depends. All fruit is not created equal, so the type you're eating makes a difference. Eating organic is clearly the best way to avoid icky pesticides and chemicals, but some fruits are pretty clean anyway, so a non-organic version is probably okay. Wondering which fruits you should pick? To make things easier, The Environmental Working Group puts out a "Dirty Dozen" list each year -- a list of the fruits and veggies with the highest pesticide residue that year -- so you can take a cheat-sheet to the grocery store. The big offenders as of late: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes. So if you're eating any of those, go organic or at least give them a good scrub-down with a vegetable brush first.
I'm Just Not Hungry In The Morning. Is It Really That Bad To Skip Breakfast?
In a word: Yes! Your mom wasn't lying -- breakfast really is the most important meal of the day (and sadly, Starbucks isn't a food group). Even when you're snuggled up asleep at night, your body is constantly working to keep things ticking, so you need to refuel as soon as you wake up. Think of your system like a car: Food is fuel, so when you run on an empty stomach, it's like trying to drive at 60 MPH with no gas. No bueno. Your body's automatic response is to lower your metabolism to conserve energy, which inevitably causes your waistline to suffer. So no, you shouldn't swing by iHop en route to work every day. But something small and nutritious -- say, an organic apple or a bowl of whole grain oatmeal -- will work wonders to keep you looking and feeling your best.
What's The Skinny On "Low-Fat" And "No-Added Sugar"?
Like any health-conscious beauty, you know that it's all about reading the ingredient label. (See! You did listen in those undergrad nutrition classes.) What may surprise you, however, is that many of the claims and numbers -- "low-fat," "no fat," "sugar-free" -- can woo you towards products that aren't necessarily as healthy as they sound. Case in point: "Low-fat" usually means less than 30 percent of your daily calories from fat, however, the same product might be jam-packed with sugar and additives to make up for, you know, the cardboard taste. Same goes for most sugar-free foods: additive city. Sorry kids, but your best plan of attack is sticking to foods that are naturally low in fat or sugar -- for example, leafy greens -- so you won't get stuck with mystery ingredients you didn't expect.
Is Diet Soda Really That Bad For Me?
Yes, yes, a million times yes. Basically, no matter how alluring that click of the tab opening sounds, the can of chemicals that we call diet soda has health risks literally pouring out of it. Some studies have shown that too much diet soda can increase your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Plus, when you constantly fake-out your brain with artificial sugars, you never truly rid yourself of the dependence that's causing all the trouble in the first place. A good remedy: Gradually switch from cola to flavored waters and juices, or try adding a slice of fruit or cucumber to your water. Hey, there's a reason we aren't made up of 80 percent soda -- stick to what mama nature gave you.
I Follow The "Everything In Moderation" Rule, So Am I On The Right Track?
Ah, the mantra of the over-indulger ... kidding, kidding. This is technically a trick question. What's "everything?" An ice cream sundae every day? Or just once a month? The problem with the "everything in moderation" myth is that thanks to out-of-control portion sizes and the implied free pass to "treat ourselves" a few times a week, this guideline has spiraled out of control into a feeding frenzy. Now, some studies do show that people who successfully maintain weight loss are those who reward themselves occasionally along the way, so there's no need to pass up a slice of cake on your birthday, or grab some pizza at the Superbowl party. But if you're eating cake for everyone's birthday and eating pizza for every football game, then the mantra becomes more like a delusion.
Low-Carb, High-Carb, No-Carb ... What's A Girl To Do? How Do I Decipher All The Fad Diets?
Poor carbs -- they keep getting heckled on the food pyramid, then welcomed back, just to be heckled again. Now that's a food fight. The truth is, our fascination with fad diets and extreme low-carb and no-carb diets has left everyone a little confused. "Carb" has become a scary word when it shouldn't be. The type of carbohydrate you're eating is what really matters -- complex vs. simple. Complex carbs like 100 percent whole grains, legumes and veggies are a healthy choice, whereas simple carbs like refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup are the real no-nos. But the real issue at hand? Fad diets that take your carb intake to one extreme or the other are usually smoke-and-mirrors in the first place. They tend to be unrealistic as a long-term health plan, and when you do stop them, you just repack on the pounds you dropped so quickly. (Hello, wasted time and expense.) Instead, opt for fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a little protein. As always, the combination of a balanced diet and consistent exercise are the only scientifically-proven, long-term weight loss solutions.
How Many Glasses Of Water Do I Really Have To Drink A Day?
Water streaming out of the tap, bottled water at every corner deli ... as Americans, we're luckier than we know to have so much access to clean drinking water. And sometimes we even take for granted the fact that hydration is vital for everything from your digestive system to your immune system and cell health -- all the things that keep you happy and glowing. So how much should you really be drinking each day? Well, it depends on how hydrating your foods are. Water-packed fruits and vegetables deliver hydration to your cells and skin better than plain ol' water ever will, so rather than force-feeding yourself gallons of water each day, try upping your intake of cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon and oranges.
Is It An Old Wives Tale That Diet Is The Cause Of Acne?
The cause of your acne? Probably not. (It's often hormonal.) But it's true that the foods you eat can influence your complexion in some ways. High-glycemic foods (i.e., sugary foods and basically every cupcake and cookie you know and love) are some of the worst offenders. They spike your blood sugar and jump start oil production in your body, which in turn can cause your pores to clog up like an old sink drain. Yuck. And consider the power of zinc, a mineral said to battle breakouts caused by inflammation and bacteria. Oysters are a great source, or if you're vegetarian or vegan, try pumpkin seeds, lentils or kidney beans. Your clear skin will thank you!
Why Do My Nails Keep Breaking? Do I Need More Calcium Or Biotin ... Or?
Brittle-nailed beauties, this one's for you: A great way to combat weak nails (and thinning hair and lackluster skin for that matter), is by increasing your biotin intake. One of the beloved B-complex vitamins, it's an essential chemical for fat and carbohydrate metabolism that -- manicure gods smiling here -- has been linked to longer, stronger nails. Legumes, avocados, egg yolks and even soybeans are great natural sources. <strong>More From YouBeauty.com:</strong> <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/quizzes/eating-style" target="_hplink">QUIZ: What's Your Eating Style?</a> <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/nutrition/fat-free-weight-gain" target="_hplink">Are Low-Fat Foods Making You Fat?</a> <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/quizzes/healthy-skin" target="_hplink">QUIZ: How Healthy is Your Skin? </a>