Natural Sleeping Remedies – Stop Insomnia Without Sleeping Pills

Natural Sleeping Remedies - Stop Insomnia Without Sleeping Pills

Everyone has the occasional sleepless night where you just aren’t tired, something is playing on your mind or the neighbours are making way too much noise! But for people who suffer from insomnia a sleepless night is a regular and incredibly annoying occurrence.

Anyone who suffers from insomnia can of course try sleeping tablets. However, many people are wary of unnatural sleeping aids as they can be addictive, have unpleasant side effects and simply mask an actual underlying problem. So if you can’t sleep but don’t want to take sleeping pills why not try some of these natural sleeping remedies.

Herbal Sleeping Remedies

herbal sleeping remedies - lavender

Herbal sleeping remedies help aid sleep not just by calming and relaxing the physical body but also by creating a calming environment and relaxing the mind. Lavender can be found in many room sprays, scented candles and massage oils, all of which can create a relaxing environment and relax the body, which is ideal for a good night’s sleep.

herbal sleeping remedies

Other herbal sleeping remedies include chamomile, lemon verbena and lime flower. All of these can be found in specialist herbal teas, another product that actively relaxes the body for sleep and creates a calm atmosphere. Many people recommend hot milk for getting to sleep so why not hot, herbal tea!

Change Your Diet to Help Aid Sleep

foods that promote sleep

It may seem obvious to say but both caffeine and sugar can have adverse affects on sleeping patterns. Caffeine in coffee, soft drinks and chocolate bars can give the body too much unwanted energy, cause restlessness of mind and body and disrupt sleep. Meanwhile, too much sugar during the day can cause uneven blood sugar levels at night or a “come down” from a sugar high, resulting in poor sleep.

Alternatively, there are many foods that are good for sleep. Believe it or not, bananas are a fantastic sleeping aid. Bananas contain soothing serotonin and the muscle relaxant magnesium. A couple of bananas half an hour before you go to bed could be just the right natural sleeping remedy you need.

Other foods which are good for sleep include:

  • Turkey – Rich in the body’s natural sleep inducing chemical Tryptophan.
  • Almonds – Full of Tryptophan and Magnesium and quite yummy.
  • Dairy products – Try milk or cottage cheese as a sleeping aid (as long as you’re not lactose intolerant!).
  • Honey – A relaxing food product that is especially good for sleep when mixed with lemon in hot water.
  • Potatoes – Can help cleanse the body of sleep preventing acids.

lifestyle changes that aid sleepLifestyle Changes That Can Help Aid Sleep

A simple, regular bedtime routine can be a very effective natural sleep remedy. Going to bed at the same time every night, doing the same cleaning routine before hand or reading for the same amount of time etc. can be a great way to naturally regulate the bodies sleeping pattern.

Another natural sleeping remedy in terms of lifestyle is literally exhausting the body! Insomnia can be caused by either too much physical energy or too much mental energy. If you have a physically strenuous lifestyle but not mentally strenuous lifestyle, try reading every night before bed to exhaust the mind. However, if it is the other way around, try exhausting the body with regular exercise.

Natural Sleeping Remedies

So there you have it, why not try some of these natural sleeping remedies to help tackle insomnia and restless nights. All of these techniques are quick, easy to do and mean you can get to sleep without having to use unnatural sleeping tablets.

Disposable Contact Lenses: A Great Option for Contact Lenses

Disposable color blend contact lenses offer many advantages, particularly because they are more convenient, easier to care for and pose fewer health risks to the eyes. Disposable contacts are prescription contact lenses that are made for one-time use (daily contacts) or extended use (up to two weeks), which are thrown away after the intended replacement schedule.

As with any contact lenses, disposable contacts and daily contact lenses must be purchased and used with proper care. From the moment you buy contact lenses to the moment you dispose of them, you must remember that contact lens safety is essential because the eyes are an entry point for germs and bacteria which can cause serious eye infections and injury and can even lead to blindness.

Here are a few safety tips for contact lens users that should be reviewed, even if you have been using disposable contact lenses for years.

Purchasing contact lenses:

If you choose to buy contact lenses online, make sure that you are buying from a reputable source and that the boxes come unopened and undamaged. Always have a proper contact lens exam and a contact lens fitting with an optometrist before ordering online to make sure that you find the best contact lenses for your eyes, including the type of lenses and how they feel in your eyes. Also, make sure that you consult with a professional to understand the required replacement schedule and care for your disposable contacts. You can order contact lenses online through our website via our contact lenses online order form.

Contact lens solution:

With so many lens solution options to choose from it is hard to figure out what you need. Daily disposable contact lenses actually don’t require contact lens cleaners because they come in lens solution and you throw them away after each use. Many people choose these lenses because of their ease and hygiene. It may be good, however, to have a multi-purpose solution on hand in case a lens pops out or drops while you are applying it.

Reusable disposable contact lenses do require cleaning and storage. Make sure that you always clean your contact case and that you dump old solution and add fresh contact solution with ease use.


Applying contact lenses:

Always wash hands before touching lenses, when applying and removing them. If you wear makeup, apply makeup after you put in your contacts and never put eye makeup on the inside of your eye, such as the inner lid. If your eyes sting or burn, take out your lenses.

Wearing disposable contacts:

Always follow the eye doctor’s replacement schedule when using disposable contacts. Disposable lenses are made of a different material that is meant for disposal which will break down after time. Over time proteins and lipids accumulate on the lens which increases the risk of infection. In addition, the lens itself could tear and cause damage or discomfort.

If you are interested in trying out disposable contact lenses, you should consult with an optometrist to determine which replacement schedule and brand is right for you.

Avoid Overeating During Holiday Meals This Holiday Season

Keep from overeating this holiday season with a healthy eating plan that is easy to follow. Enjoy the holiday meal without skipping the good stuff!

Holiday meals are filled with savoury foods that most do not consume on a regular basis. Filling a plate with food, eating, then going back for seconds before having dessert is a common routine at holiday meals. Yes, it is delicious and most cannot get enough of it until they have to unbutton their pants and lean back to take a nap. Before going overboard with the holiday meal consider what the food is actually doing to the body and how to prevent it from occurring.

Over Eating Health Concerns

According to Consumer Reports on Health, a large holiday meal could quickly surpass 4,000 calories. A meal such as this can cause a cardiac output of blood to rise and divert to the intestines to help aid in the digestion process. This can take up to six hours and will leave other organs deprived. Carbohydrates in holiday meals tend to be high which causes insulin to rise preventing the coronary arteries to relax.

Fat content is another concern with holiday overeating. Not only will the fat cause unwanted weight gain it can also trigger a gallbladder attack, especially in those who have gallstones already. Most holiday meals are not low in sodium which can lead to acute heart failure in persons who have had a problem.

How-to Eat Healthy at Holiday Meals

Woman having salad meal at the restaurant

One of the most common mistakes people make is to arrive at their holiday meal hungry. Avoid the temptation to skip breakfast to ‘save room for later’. It is the holiday season, whip up a nutritious holiday inspired breakfast and have a small snack an hour before the meal begins. A snack could include a small serving of oats, a bowl of whole grain cereal, or a granola bar.

As the holiday meal begins, if possible, eat a salad first. It is alright to taste all the foods that seem appealing, but don’t pile a huge plate full of food. Instead, opt for small food portions. Use a salad plate, it is smaller than a dinner plate and will give the illusion that the plate is filled full. Drink plenty of water with the meal to aid in digestion. Don’t try to finish the food too quickly, eat slowly and savour every bite.

Weight Loss Tips for the Holidays

Some areas have scheduled holiday walks, bikes, or runs. Begin a few months in advance and prepare for one of these activities. If none are available, grab a friend or family member and head to the gym for an hour before the holiday meal begins. This could be a wonderful time to spend time with family members that do not live near or that only come to town during the holidays.

Some families enjoy other outdoor activities such as basketball, soccer, horseshoes, bad mitten, horseback riding, touch football, etc. Start a new tradition this year and come up with some outdoor fun activities the whole family can enjoy. After all, holidays are about spending time with family.

Sometimes cooking will hinder the activities before the meal. In this case, save the activities for after the meal, but before the dessert. When asked to take home leftovers, if possible, decline. When leftovers are taken home, take only a small portion and save until the next day.


Discovering Kava – The Root of Serenity

Long-used by South Pacific islanders to soothe the nerves, kava is now one of the top-selling herbs in this country. But promoting tranquility in one of the most serene corners of the world is one thing while easing tension in a society of revolving debt and traffic jams is another. Is this ancient remedy a solution to modern-day stress and anxiety?

An elixir of kava rootFound in the plant’s roots, kava’s main calming ingredients are known as kavalactones. These fat-like substances relax the body and induce sleep, acting somewhat like the tranquilizers Valium or Xanax, although researchers aren’t exactly sure how the herb works. In Germany, kava remains one of the most popular doctor-recommended remedies for frayed nerves. The German Commission E, an FDA-like panel of experts that evaluates the safety and effectiveness of botanicals, has given the herb its stamp of approval.

What the Evidence Shows

Critics have questioned whether there’s a sound scientific basis for recommending kava in supplement form. Kava supplements, after all, are nothing like the sharp-tasting, homemade South Seas brews traditionally served in coconut shells (although you can still order the herb this way in South Pacific kava bars). Nor is the herb being used in the traditional sense. Polynesians drink kava to relax at social gatherings and tribal ceremonies. They don’t pop a pill because they’re anxious about boarding a boat.

A handful of short-term studies, most conducted in Europe, have found that kava helps reduce tension and improves mood in people who complain of stress, anxiety, or certain phobias. In the most recent report, presented at a symposium on alternative therapies last year, scientists followed 60 men and women with chronically high levels of stress and anxiety. Half the subjects got two 200 mg kava pills a day, while the others took a placebo. After four weeks, only the kava users showed a significant reduction in daily stress from personal relationships and other types of hassles.

To date, there has been only one longer-term controlled study on kava, which lasted six months. Although it found that kava relieved anxiety far more effectively than a placebo, it and other research suggest that kava may not be a quick and effective remedy for people with unusually severe anxiety.

Nevertheless, there is compelling anecdotal evidence that kava eases the tension caused by everyday life stresses. The herb appears to relieve mild anxiety in less than an hour, but studies have found that it typically takes a week to exert a meaningful effect. People report that the herb helps them to feel relaxed, content, and more willing to socialize. At a reasonable dose, kava will not affect your ability to think and reason, and there is no sluggishness the next day. In some respects, then, kava is the Polynesian equivalent of alcohol, minus the hangover and slurring.

Safer than Drugs?

Doctors in this country are beginning to pay kava some notice. Dr. Roberta Lee, the senior fellow at the program of integrative medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson, recommends kava for some of her patients, particularly those who suffer from anxiety on a regular basis. “At this point,” she says, “it appears it may be safer than conventional anxiety medications.” She warns, however, that kava should not be combined with drugs such as Valium or alcohol because it may cause excessive sedation. And she would advise pregnant or breastfeeding women not to use kava because it can pass into breast milk. She also stresses the importance of combining the herb with other anxiety-reducing techniques, such as hypnosis and breathing exercises. The University is currently beginning a long-term study of kava for mild anxiety.

Shopping for Kava

Look for a solid, liquid, soft gel, or whole herb product that’s standardized to contain at least 30% kavalactones, the active ingredients in the herb. Dr. Lee says that German brands may be a good bet because herbal quality and content requirements are much stricter in Europe than in the U.S. She adds, however, that the larger manufacturers in this country, such as Nature’s Way, Enzymatic Therapy, Eclectic, and PhytoPharmica, also seem to have a good product. “I would certainly steer people away from bulk herbs,” cautions Dr. Lee. “We don’t know their age, and they’re exposed to oxygen and may already be oxidized.”

Suggested Dose

For bouts of stress or nervousness, take up to 250 mg of a standardized kava extract three times a day. Higher amounts may cause you to feel disoriented. Take with food for best absorption. Although side effects are few–mainly stomach discomfort–long-term use (more than three months) may lead to discolored, itchy skin.

Important Note

The FDA has recently issued warnings on kava due to its adverse effects on the liver. Before using this herb, please read this entry.


5 Best Habits On Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, though it is sometimes forgotten. Daily intake of good & healthy breakfasts is one of the habits that assist us to maintain good mental and physical performance. A good breakfast is an insurance to start the day on a healthy basis and to give your body the necessary energy after the fast of the night.

Nutrients obtained early in the day help to “recharge” the body’s energy to perform multiple activities throughout the day. They are also essential for boosting metabolism, which is necessary to maintain stable and healthy body weight.

The problem is that everyone does not make good food choices during their preparation, or it is decided to replace the breakfast with a pure coffee with biscuits, for lack of time.

 So What is a GOOD breakfast? Which are the errors to avoid? 

For this reason, I wanted to devote this article to 5 interesting ideas for having more perfect and healthier breakfasts.

  1. breakfast for championsTAKE AT LEAST ONE FRESH FRUIT

Nothing like fresh seasonal fruit or juices centrifuged to start the day. Packed with vitamins, they will help you recharge your batteries. Choose from organic farming if possible. For those who have a little time in the morning, the ideal is to let 10-15 minutes after eating your fruit or drinking your juice. The fruits are digested globally very quickly. In this way, they will not end up stagnating in your stomach with the rest of your breakfast. This advice is especially for fragile people, where the consumption of fruit sometimes causes digestive disorders.

  1. Replace black coffee With Green Tea

The caffeine in the coffee increases nerve activity by stimulating the production of adrenaline and dopamine that will improve your physical and intellectual performance, but the effect lasts only a few hours. Then you usually have a bar that makes you take another coffee. It’s a vicious circle. As with a drug, the body adapts, and the same dose of caffeine will have less and fewer effects. So try to take Green tea instead of making black coffee. Green tea will help to lose calories.

  1. Drink Water

Drinking water regularly is essential to have a flat stomach. Avoid drinking sparkling water, these waters will bring gas into your stomach, but that’s not all: some studies have shown that aerated waters can cause weight gain because they open the appetite. Sodas and other sweet drinks are also prohibited. Besides, we will advise you to drink without meals. Drinking during meals complicates digestion and causes bloating. Apart from meals, you will not drink a liter at a

time, but a few sips regularly during the day. Herbal tea and tea are highly recommended. But without sugar, that goes without saying.

Nutritious Options

 If your daily life demands a lot of concentration and mental focus, try this breakfast. It is full of important nutrients. It contains more calories than the previous options (about 470), but it is a great way to endure fatigue in the morning and fight mental blockages. The Ingredients are:

  • One glass of skimmed milk
  • A bowl of oatmeal with dried fruit
  • One apple or banana


Fibers as another important nutrient that you should not forget at breakfast. Fibers help improve digestion; it is good for the health of the heart and essential for maintaining a healthy weight. This nutrient ensures that your body feels that it has eaten enough for a long time and helps prevent you from ingesting too many calories. We recommend the following high-fiber foods:

  • Oatmeal
  • Raw roots
  • Spinach
  • asparagus
  • Beets
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Apples
  • Peach
  • Whole grain bread

You do not have to invest a lot of time to enjoy complete, balanced and healthy breakfasts. All you need are a few simple, flawless tricks:

  • Wakes up 15 or 20 minutes earlier than normal. That way you have time to have breakfast.
  • Plan your breakfast for the coming week. If you write down what you are going to eat, you can have all the ingredients ready in advance.
  • Make a smoothie. These drinks are quick to make, and you can mix different ingredients to make a light and complete breakfast.


If you are overweight and skip breakfast to lose weight, you make a big mistake, and you do the opposite! The body will produce more fat to get the energy needed to wake up all its functions adequately. It is therefore not a good idea to skip breakfast to lose weight. But you can still act on its composition: replace pastries with fruits and whole grains, do not add sugar in your juice and consume skim milk products. As for the charcuterie, opt for white ham or turkey.

Remember: a good, well-balanced breakfast, taken each day, will help you lengthen your life for many years.

Get Shredded in Six Weeks! The Problem with Extreme Male Body Transformations

Men’s Health magazine has transformed many men – and its own fortunes – by featuring extreme muscle makeovers. But does changing shape fast have a dark side?

In 2004, Men’s Health journalist Dan Rookwood walked into his editor’s office in a funk. The topless beefcakes who appeared on their covers were unrealistic, he had decided. No one actually looked like that – not least the staff of what was then the UK’s third-biggest-selling men’s magazine. His editor smiled. He felt a feature coming on.

Just over a year later, a smirking Rookwood appeared on the March 2006 cover of Men’s Health. His biceps were huge, his six-pack extraordinarily well defined. “From fat to flat!” read the cover line, alongside a picture of a mournful-looking Rookwood, pre-transformation, his belly soft and rounded. It became the biggest-selling Men’s Health issue of all time.

The transformation genre of men’s magazine cover stories was born. Since then, they have become the bread and butter (or steamed spinach and chicken breast) of these publications. Pick up a copy of Men’s Health every six months or so and you will see a topless staffer grinning for the camera, next to the words “Get shredded in six weeks!” or “From scrawny to brawny!”

In difficult times for print publishing, Men’s Health and its competitors hit upon a monetizable formula. Across the country, podgy dads and harried office workers dreamed of having the perfect physique. Makeover transformations promised the body they longed for – typically within eight to 12 weeks.

Aziz Sikdar‘I’d binge a lot, completely overeat, then starve myself out of guilt’ … Aziz Sikdar, who became fixated on bulking up after gaining weight at the university. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

A cottage industry whirred into action. You can join the Men’s Health Transform Club or purchase a copy of the Men’s Fitness 12 Week Body Plan. The message is clear: ditch the carbs, start deadlifting, and you too can upgrade your dad bod to the crisply defined torso of a Hollywood hunk.

But getting shredded takes serious graft. “It’s quite a drastic lifestyle change,” says former Men’s Health journalist (and January 2017 cover star) Tom Ward. The hardest part was giving up his favorite sugary foods. “I’ve got a real sweet tooth, and I eat ice-cream all the time, so towards the end, I was Googling videos of people making cakes and dreaming of what I’d eat.”

“It’s 80% about nutrition,” agrees his former colleague Mark Sansom, who ended the challenge with 48cm (19in) biceps. Eating four portions of microwaved fish a day took its toll. “You’d be forcing it down. It wasn’t enjoyable.” Avoiding alcohol – the nemesis of defined torsos everywhere – was difficult, too. “You realize how much British life is arranged around booze,” says Jon Lipsey, the Men’s Fitness cover star for May 2018.

“I wanted to prove to the readers that the cover lines we preach at Men’s Health are possible,” Sansom says. “We’re normal guys.” But how normal? All were given personal trainers, and Ward’s editor allowed him time off work to train.

Cover model transformations are not snake oil – they do work, provided you are a staff journalist at a magazine with access to high-end trainers, a sympathetic boss and the time to spend hours meal-prepping protein-based meals.

While the Men’s Health cover body may be attainable, most people are not able to maintain the necessary lifestyle once the challenge is over. “For me, the diet was not sustainable long-term, whereas the training has been,” says Rookwood. He is conflicted about his role in creating the genre of cover transformation stories. “It was just a bit of fun,” Rookwood says. “Something to tell the grandkids; maybe frames in the downstairs loo someday.”

Tom Ward‘It’s quite a drastic lifestyle change’ … the results of Tom Ward’s regime for Men’s Health. Photograph: Tom Ward

The Men’s Health team did more than shift magazines: they ushered in a protein-blasted physical aesthetic. In this new paradigm of masculine excellence, anyone can achieve physical perfection if they put in the hours. It is an aspirational narrative, accompanied by a specific vernacular. Men are hench, whammo or tonk. A good soldier never forgets leg day.

Our physical ideals change according to the times in which we live. The 80s masculine ideal was typified by action heroes such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, while scrawny, beer-drinking lads dominated the 90s. “The idealized body image is highly muscular right now,” says Dr. Stuart Murray, a psychologist who specializes in muscle dysmorphia in men. What distinguishes this ideal from that of the 80s is a preoccupation with maintaining a single-digit body-fat percentage to better display one’s muscularity.

Whereas the vest-wearing action stars of the 80s needed physical strength to hook themselves into lift shafts and avert terrorism, today’s uber-tonk males wear their six-packs like beautiful, pointless feathers: this is a cosmetic muscularity, rather than a functional one. Its most prominent brand ambassadors are, of course, the preening and tensing men of Love Island, who are effectively one giant regional gym made flesh.

The emergence of this physical ideal is linked to the death of lad culture. “Magazines are reflectors of society,” says Simon Das, a lecturer in journalism at London College of Communication. “Magazines such as Nuts and Zoo were out of kilter with the new generation of men coming through.” As the lad’s mags were counted out, health-focused publications absorbed their readerships, with Men’s Health overtaking FHM’s sales in 2009. Men’s Health remains the biggest paid-for magazine in the men’s lifestyle sector, with a circulation of 175,683 at the end of 2017.

Men’s magazines reflect and reinforce the cultural zeitgeist. Young men today are interested in “wellbeing and fitness and looking good,” Das says. “So this is reflected in the editorial interests of magazines oriented at guys.”

Men’s magazines alone did not give rise to this new ideal; there were other factors. Gym going became democratized, with chains such as PureGym(which opened in 2009) and Fitness4Less (founded in 2010) bringing affordable membership to the masses. The pursuit of fitness accrued social capital, with streaming sites such as YouTube making celebrities of personal trainer Joe Wicks and fitness gurus The Hodgetwins. Some argue that the financial crisis created the gym bro: as traditional routes to success were eroded, men fell back on their bodies as a means of feeling valuable to society. Concurrently, young people stopped drinking as much.

You may think: what is the harm in counting reps on a chest press? But the masculine frame we fetishize today can be as pernicious as the uber-thin supermodels we typically condemn for perpetuating unrealistic body ideals.

Aziz Sikdar, 29, became unhappy with his body after gaining weight at the university. He turned to YouTube channels including Athlean-X and Yo Elliott, as well as Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness. “I’d look at YouTube channels and magazines so much that bodies of that type seemed the norm to me and I felt like I was lacking.”

Sikdar tried a few cover-story plans. “Generally, they weren’t very effective. While their diet tips were helpful, I didn’t get much from the workouts themselves,” he says. “They’d recommend something one month and then, a couple of months later, tell you the complete opposite.”

Rapidly, Sikdar developed an “unhealthy” relationship with food. “I always had to know the breakdown of what I was eating,” he says. “I’d binge a lot, completely overeat, then starve myself out of guilt.” Once, he ate at McDonald’s eight times in a five-day period.

Because nutrition is essential to achieving the cosmetic muscularity that is in vogue, those predisposed to disordered eating can adopt worrying behaviors. “Diet is imperative to get the sort of results these men are working towards,” says Sam Thomas of the charity Men Get Eating Disorders Too. “That can become a focus in itself and spiral.” Even men who appear in prime health can be in the grip of a devastating illness linked to their desire to achieve a more muscular goal.

As eating disorder services tend to be designed for women, male sufferers can be overlooked. Only one in 10 patients who seek help for eating disorders are men, despite the fact that men are as likely as women to suffer. Clinicians are trained to look for emaciation, despite the fact that many sufferers are not underweight, particularly if they are packing on muscle at the gym. “Another complication is that these guys are coming from gyms where there is a ‘no pain, no gain’ ethos, which means they’re socialized into thinking it’s OK to forgo important parts of their lives in the service of this muscularity,” says Murray. “They don’t see it as a problem.”

“My mental state became a complete mess,” says Sikdar. “The gym and my body seemed to be one place I had some control and was succeeding.”

Murray says that men work out to elevate their standing among other men, not women. “A compliment from a man is worth more than a compliment from a woman because males have more credibility in affirming other males.”

After a month spent learning Muay Thai in Thailand, Tom Usher, 30, felt himself change. “I wasn’t scared of anyone,” he muses. “When you look Chung physically, you feel Chung – and that confidence translates into how you act around women, but also men. It plays to some kind of physical superiority thing that men like to have over other men, regardless of whether they know about it consciously or not.”

Although Murray does not believe the media causes eating disorders, he says it creates the powerful social comparisons that Usher and Sikdar experienced. “Exposure to these images gives positive connotations of what it means to be highly muscular for males,” he says. “This almost always induces a profound body dissatisfaction that results in compensatory efforts to try and increase one’s muscularity.” Individuals can end up in a dangerous cycle of overexercising and restricted eating.

Why is it that we condemn women’s magazines for including weight-loss tips, but men’s magazines escape our censure? Both say: you are not OK as you are. You should change. Both perpetuate body ideals that, despite what they may claim, are not practicably achievable by everyone.

“There’s no set manual that every man can use to get the same results,” says Thomas. “Not every man can get the desired result within six weeks. You can do the same workout as other men, and you won’t get the same result.” Some may feel cheated and go to extreme lengths to get the result they were “promised.” These measures can be harmless: protein bars or creatine shakes. But not always.

As it is very difficult to have an abnormally pumped, low-body-fat physique without chemical help, experts link today’s cosmetic muscularity to substance abuse.

“I was definitely tempted by steroids,” says Sikdar. He is not alone. Steroid abuse is on the rise, with an estimated 1 million users in the UK. In 2015, reality star Spencer Matthews admitted to a secret steroid addiction fuelled by “vanity.” Matthews is one of the lucky ones: many do not survive steroid addiction. Dean Wharmby, a bodybuilder from Rochdale, died of liver cancer induced by his misuse of anabolic steroids in 2015. Cult Australian bodybuilder Aziz Shavershian, known as Zyzz, was the poster boy for a muscularity-oriented lifestyle, posting his workouts online to thousands of followers. In 2011, he died in a sauna in Thailand at the age of 22. After his death, it emerged that Shavershian had been taking clenbuterol, which can induce cardiac arrhythmia.

What makes men die pursuing a cosmetic goal? “Being big was what everyone knew Dean for,” Wharmby’s partner Charlotte Rigby said after his death.

Murray says: “You generate this wonderful physique and get lots of compliments and then the fear of not maintaining this physique becomes powerful. It becomes your primary identity. That leads to some of the extreme lengths these guys go to.”

Of course, not everyone who tries to get shredded becomes unhealthy. Most will get in shape for a while, then slip back. Gym memberships go unused. Magazine subscriptions expire. Perhaps it will not all be for nothing: they will eat more healthily or exercise more often.

After his cover shoot, Ward went on holiday with his girlfriend. It was nice being on the beach and not feeling self-conscious about his body. But life got in the way of training. He is unaffected by the loss of his former physique. “I feel good about myself sitting on the beach now with my dog, even if I’m a bit fat.”

Sansom has put on a “fair bit of weight” since his cover shoot. Like Ward, he is relaxed about it. Browsing WH Smith recently, Sansom was confronted by his former glory: Men’s Health had reused his body on the cover of a transformation manual. “I looked down and thought: I’ve kind of let myself go,” he laughs. “But I’m only two or three months away from getting back into good nick.”

What’s the Best Diet for Losing All the Weight You Put on Over Christmas?

There are many diets you can follow if you want to live more healthily, but it’s hard to know which has the best long-term effects? Luckily, a team of experts has done the research

Losing weight is a common new year’s resolution. Even when dressed up as a pledge to eat more healthily, it can be tinged with self-loathing. Those pigs in blankets, mince pies and Baileys. Why, oh why? But at least anyone who wants to improve their diet has a fantastic resource to help them. With perfect timing, a US panel of experts in diet, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and food psychology has scrutinized and ranked 40 diets. Its listings, which are produced annually, show which diets are best for short- and long-term weight loss, which are easiest to follow, which you are most likely to stick with – and which are unsafe because they don’t supply enough nutrients.

The solution

In the category of best diets overall, the ketogenic diet, which increases fat intake and reduces carbohydrates and is reportedly followed by Kim Kardashian and Mick Jagger, comes in second to bottom. Experts were concerned at the health risks of such high levels of fat, especially for people with liver or kidney problems.

The winning slot is shared between two understated diets – the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet. While you might be familiar with the Mediterranean diet, the former is less well known but has been topping the experts’ annual best diets leaderboard for eight years. But both – as well as some of the other top 10-ranked diets – have evidence that supports their effectiveness: people who follow them lose weight and reduce their risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and probably other conditions, too.

Dash Eating PlanDASH was invented by the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and promotes six to eight servings of grains, four to five of vegetables or fruits, six of lean meat (chicken or fish), nuts or seeds, and two to three servings of fats. Each serving is small; for example, 1oz (28gm) of meat or 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil. Sodium is capped at around half a teaspoon. Studies show that the diet, particularly when accompanied by exercise, reduces weight and blood pressure. The experts say it is easy to follow and you will feel full on it.

The Mediterranean diet, full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, nuts, poultry, eggs, and cheese and yogurt in moderation, is similar to DASH, but without the specific serving restrictions. Some studies show weight reduction while others are equivocal, but a Mediterranean diet is also thought to protect against diabetes and heart disease. It is also easy and even joyful to follow. Overall, the best-ranked diets are not too restrictive. So the Flexitarian diet – vegetarianism with the occasional addition of meat – scores more highly than a vegan diet. The WHOLE30 diet is ranked with the raw food diet as the least healthy – both are too restrictive to be the “best diet” for anyone.