BE A HEALTH FOOD JUNKIE

Fat and sugar can be as addictive as drugs. Use our plan to wean yourself off class-A foods and find out how to get your nutritional highs elsewhere

We're all familiar with the lure of a dirty burger. But what few of us realise is that the urge comes not just from your stomach, but deep inside your skull. According to a study from the Scripps Research Institute in Florida, junk food has the same effect on your brain chemistry as cocaine and heroine, and for some people it can be equally addictive.

"We found that an excess of foods high in sugar and fat resulted in a deficit in the brain's reward systems, much like drug dependency," says neuroscientist Dr Paul Kenny, the author of the study. Those foods are tempting because they trigger the release of chemicals that make you feel good.such as dopamine and serotonin. And the more you get that post-gorge high, the more you seek the food that causes it. Eventually. the 'neurochemical pattern' of all-you-can-eat junk makes the urge for that fix hard to resist. The result is that you become addicted to crap.

That's the bad news. The good news is that there's a way to regain control without going cold turkey. The key is to supply your brain with the same reward triggers, but from activities and foods that aid your fitness and weight-loss plans. Rather than over-stimulating your brain, these beneficial rewards are released Steadily and, in time, you will become addicted to healthy things instead.

Help is on hand from Dr Mike Dow, an addiction specialist and author of Diet Rehab. His pain-free plan is designed to help you overcome a reliance on unhealthy food, without having to swear off it for life.

Nobody can go from Homer Simpson to Ned Flanders in a day. We know this. Noris there any need to make that change for good. The key is to strategically cut the crap over four weeks, says Dow. "You replace junk with healthy alternatives that stimulate the same feel-good brain chemicals."

Read more: FAST FOOD REHAB

CUT YOUR GYM TIME...AND GET BETTER RESULTS

Even the best moves can be improved. These updated exercises, from coach lan Mellis, work more muscle in less time. You'll be hitting the showers in minutes

1. MASTER THE SUPER-SQUAT FOR FASTER MUSCLE GAINS
HIT YOUR WHOLE BODY TO BOOST GROWTH HORMONE

The barbell squat is every trainer's favourite because it hits your quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back and abs. But technique is crucial. "If your core isn't strong you'll round your back during the move," says Mellis. This leads to lumbar problems, and reduces the work done by the muscles.

Efficiency drive Flip the move and add a military press. "By resting the baron the front of your shoulders rather than the back, your torso stays more upright, which reduces potential back problems and works more of your abs," say's Mellis. Adding the military press means you're working your shoulders and triceps too. Plus, you'll flood your body with testosterone and growth hormone, so you'll be building muscle 24/7.

How? With an overhand grip, hold the bar across the front of your shoulders (A). Squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor (B) then drive back up. Once you're standing, push the bar above your head (C).

Supersquat
Read more: THE WORLD'S MOST EFFICIENT WORKOUT

Break LooseLeaner

Fall out of bed into these calorie-burning stretches to prime yourself for zero-effort weightloss

Your fascia - the stretchy, connective tissue between your muscles and skin - is an untapped weight-loss WMD. Thanks to our sedentary lives, most of us spend the day with ours all bunched up, folded and twisted. "Fascial release can allow your body to move more and stretch further," says physiologist Marc Hamilton. This means you'll use up more calories  through non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT." New research shows this approach can burn up to 800kcal per day - or almost half a stone in a month. Do these morning exercises regularly and iron out your fascia to boost your fat loss - no sweat.

 

Leaner1A LET GO OF TENSION

HOW? In a lowered press-up position, place a tennis ball under your stomach, about 2in to one side of your belly button. Supported on your toes and forearms, roll sideways and up and down. Switch sides.

WHY? "This hits both sides of your psoas muscle, which runs through your hips and attaches at the top of your thighs," says PT Rob Blair. "It loosens your fascia after that tightening effects of prolonged inactivity."

Read more: How to Get Leaner Easier

Good news: turns out a glass half full is more than enough to sustain your health, heart and salary for years to come. Here's why it's high time to crack a smileOptimist

" Always look on the bright side of life." Believe it or not, Monty Python offered up some of the best health advice of the 10th century. Research shows that optimists live longer, are richer and are mentally stronger than pessimists. They have lower stress levels and better immune systems. They get more exercise
and eat more healthily. One 10-year study found that optimists were 23% less likely to die from heart disease and 55% less likely to die prematurely from all

causes. It's tempting to think that these bright-eyed fools are setting themselves up for one fall after another. But, on average, they earn 20k more a year than negative thinkers. And studies show that pessimists feel just as bad when things go wrong - the only difference is that the optimist concludes that next time things will be better. Chances are, they will be. So turn the page to tap into the powerof positive thinking.

20 REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL

Rise above the politicians' incessant gloom and doom-there are plenty of positive omens for 2012 and beyond

1 THERE'S AN 88% CHANCE YOU'LL GET A PAY RISE
According to the CBI Employment Trends Survey,only 12% of firms will freeze pay this year,down from 55% in 2009·

2 WOMEN ARE HORNY
More so than ever,it seems.A survey by goodinbed.com found that women are now more 'experimental' and more likely to share their fantasies. Now that's a real bonus.

Read more: THE OPTIMIST MANIFESTO

100 Greatest Things In Health Part 1 of 3 Food & Drinkrocket

This month we're bringing you the newest, most inspiring ways to a better body. Get ready for 100 essential ideas to upgrade your wellbeing, split over three sections. Part 1 is all about nutrition. We have lift-off...

1 ROCKET FUEL
The best...way to start your day
NASA-tested and now part of the diet plan for its astronauts, AS10 crams hefty amounts of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals into a single 75ml shot. The University of Pittsburgh found a daily shot of the 'super fruit' drink reduces heart disease risk, prevents certain cancers and sharpens your brain. One small sip for man, one giant leap for your body and mind.
£38.40 for 12 x 75ml bottles
harleymedical.co.uk

Body Boosters01-24
BODY BOOSTERS
The best...new superfoods
New ingredients with proclaimed health benefits are constantly hitting the headlines. Here's the nutritional make-up of the next eight chart-toppers (per 15g serving), so you can balance your diet with total preision.

2 Chia Seeds
3 Protein (g), 5 Carbs (g), 6 Fibre (g), 10 Calcium (% RDA), 15 Vit C (% RDA), 12 Vit A (% RDA).

3 Baobab
1 Protein (g), 6 Carbs (g), 6 Fibre (g), 3 Calcium (% RDA), 51 Vit C (% RDA), 6 Vit A (% RDA).

4 Lingonberry
1 Protein (g), 2 Carbs (g), 1 Fibre (g), 1 Calcium (RDA), 4 Vit C (RDA), 1 Vit A (RDA).

5 Hemp Seeds
7 Protein (g), 2 Carbs (g), 1 Fibre (g), 7 Calcium (% RDA), 24 Vit C (% RDA), 9 Vit A (% RDA).

6 Spirulina
8 Protein (g), 4 Carbs (g), 1 Fibre (g), 1 Calcium (% RDA), 1 Vit C (% RDA), 1 Vit A (% RDA).

7 Farro
1 Protein (g), 4 Carbs (g), 1 Fibre (g), 1 Calcium (% RDA), 15 Vit C (% RDA), 10 Vit A (% RDA).

8 Maca
2 Protein (g), 11 Carbs (g), 1 Fibre (g), 4 Calcium (% RDA), 50 Vit C (% RDA), 2 Vit A (% RDA).

9 Bee pollen
4 Protein (g), 6 Carbs (g), 1 Fibre (g), 20 Calcium (% RDA), 8 Vit C (% RDA), 2 Vit A (% RDA).

Read more: 100 Greatest Things In Health

BUILD YOUR BONES

BuildyourbonesWe all lose bone mass as we age, but make the right moves now and you can armour-plate your personal scaffolding for years to come.

1 LOAD UP
Rest the handle of a kettlebell across your palm, with the bell against your bicep. Squat, stand up and press the bell overhead. This drill increases bone strength in your wrists, arms, shoulders, pelvis and hips. As with muscles, when bones are loaded, they will respond by increasing in strength.

2 SKIP AHEAD
The repetitive impact from the 'double bounce' motion when skipping will gradually increase the density throughout the long bones of your legs, hips, pelvis and spine. Start slowly, with a low target such as 50 bounces, and work up from there, focusing on your form and rhythm.

Read more: How to build your bones