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    Weight Loss Pills: We Delved Deep Into The Science To See If Any Actually Work

    If you’re trying to lose weight, chances are you’ve thought about weight loss pills. They’re tantalisingly simple and easy to use: just pop a powerful supp and watch as the fat melts away, right?

    If only. Weight loss pills work if the fundamental principle of weight loss is in place: a caloric deficit. “A calorie deficit is necessary to lose weight,” says Megan Lee, a registered dietician at Gabi Meltzer Dietician. “This is established when the body is using more energy than it is taking in from food. Calorie deficits occur through behavioural changes like increasing energy expenditure through movement or decreasing total calorie intake through dietary modifications. They do not occur from simply ingesting the compounds found in diet pills.” But that doesn’t stop weight loss pills from creeping up and doing the rounds on TikTok, where people swear by its efficacy. The results are more likely from a healthy diet and plenty of movement which contributes to a caloric deficit.

    Nonetheless, we decided to closely investigate the plethora of weight loss pills around to see how they actually work. We chatted with experts and scrutinised the studies to bring you fact-checked information about each supp we could find online that’s popular. Without further ado, the weight loss pills and how they work.

    CLA Safflower

    What it is

    CLA stands for conjugated linoleic acid—a fat high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (a.k.a. the good kinds). Safflower is a plant that looks like a dandelion but isn’t. The oil extracted from it is produced by the seeds of the plant, which contains CLA.

    What it does

    Well… not much. According to one 2007 study, CLA supplements could increase fat oxidation (the process by which the body breaks down fats into smaller molecules so they can be used for energy). The study also found that CLA could burn energy during sleep. Sounds promising!

    Does it work?

    The bad news? The study involved less than 50 subjects, which is less than the required amount to really move the needle and conclusively say that this weight loss pill works. Added to that, safflower oil only contains a small amount of CLA—about 0.7 milligrams of CLA per gram of fat. More is probably needed to really induce the effects listed above.

    READ MORE: Can CLA Safflower Oil Supplements Really Help You Lose Weight?   

    Garcinia Cambogia

    What it is

    Ah, the fave weight loss supplement for aeons. This strange-sounding word is actually a fruit commonly grown in India and Southeast Asia. The rind contains a chemical (hydroxycitric acid or HCA) which is where the crux of weight loss claims stem from. It’s been studied for its appetite-suppressant effects, which is why so many weight loss pills contain the extract.

    What it does

    Per studies and reviews, the appetite suppressant effects are said to be what facilitates weight loss. Pretty clear, right – the less you eat, the less your caloric intake, meaning you’d be in a caloric deficit, leading to a slimmer figure.

    Does it work?

    Erm… kind of. The claims that garcinia cambogia works are down to very few robust randomised studies. Only five of these showed any amount of weight loss. In those studies, participants didn’t see the needle move much in the direction of weight loss. “While weight loss may have occurred in some of the studies, most showed no clinically significant reduction in body fat or body weight,” says Lee. “Dietary modification and physical activity remain the most suitable method to alter body composition in the general population.” Added to that, per one expert, your weight loss from taking the supplement is around half a kilo – hardly enough to write home about.

    READ MORE: Exactly What You Need To Know About Garcinia Cambogia Extract For Weight Loss


    What it is

    Made from the bark of an evergreen tree, called Pausinystalia yohimbe. The tree grows in West and Central Africa in lowland forests. From the bark comes yohimbe, and the supplement is used to treat erectile dysfunction as well as weight loss.  

    What it does

    Yohimbe is an alpha-2 adrenoceptor antagonist, meaning that it enhances the release of both serotonin (the happiness hormone) and norepinephrine (your fight-or-flight hormone). The alpha-2 adrenoceptor antagonist serves as the crux of where weight loss is thought to happen. Using the receptor, it’s thought that it could block receptors in fat cells which could theoretically result in weight loss. One study looked at 20 obese females who consumed a measly 1,000-calorie diet for three weeks while taking yohimbe. They lost more weight than those in the placebo group. It’s worth noting that the subjects took 5mg of yohimbe four times a day.

    Does it work?

    We’d need more robust studies to confirm if yohimbe works for weight loss or not. Other studies concluded that yohimbe had no significant impact on weight loss.


    What it is

    Berberine is a compound found in many plants, including barberry, goldenseal and goldthread. (Never heard of ‘em? Us neither. We move.) It’s been cultivated and used for over 3000 years in China and South Asia. The parts of the plant barberry have been used in different ways.

    What it does

    Now, the fun part. The possible health benefits come from how it affects enzymes in the bod. It’s been associated with lowering cholesterol, maintaining a healthy heart, controlling blood sugar, lowering blood pressure and helping with the symptoms of PCOS. When it comes to weight loss, it’s thought that the resulting fat loss might come from how it interacts with insulin and the hormones that keep fat cells in check. Per one study, it might increase brown adipose tissue (the good kind) and its activity, leading to potential fat loss.

    Does it work?

    According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the jury is out on this one. Some studies find that it’s effective, while others say it’s not worth your moola. Plus, existing studies featured people with comorbidities like diabetes or fatty liver disease, so any resulting weight loss might be a result of berberine on these existing conditions. What we really need is concrete and reliable studies to link berberine to weight loss.

    READ MORE: Nature’s Ozempic: What Are The Benefits Of Berberine? 

    Psyllium husk

    What it is

    The brown powder, eschewed once for its texture, is making a strong comeback with claims that it could lead to weight loss. A soluble fibre, the husk is used in laxatives and treats high blood sugar, diarrhoea and high cholesterol. It absorbs water fiercely, making you feel fuller for longer.

    What it does

    It’s superpower appears to be that it boosts satiety, making you feel fuller for longer – a powerful technique in weight loss efforts.

    Does it work?

    Proponents claim that psyllium triggers receptors in your intestines, promoting fullness so you’re less likely to eat more. Cue caloric deficit note up top. While this is indeed the chief mechanism of Ozempic, psyllium husk does not work at all in the same way as the drug. Ozempic works in the brain; psyllium husk works in the gut temporarily.

    Scientific evidence is also mixed as to whether or not taking this supplement will result in weight loss. However, upping your fibre intake is a good idea, so use the husk to fill up, but watch that you don’t overdo it. If you’re taking medication, don’t take psyllium before your meds – these could interfere with your medication’s absorption.

    READ MORE: Is Psyllium Husk A Viable Alternative To Ozempic?  

    What it is

    You’ll know this one. It’s one of the most drunk teas in the world with powerful health benefits. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, promoting heart health, boosting the liver and brain and even helping skin glow.

    What it does

    It’s a mainstay in weight loss pills. The main idea: since green tea is rich in catechins and caffeine, these compounds are attributed to its weight loss properties. That’s because caffeine and catechins are known to regulate the hormones that assist in thermogenesis (a kind of fat-burning process). In short, thermogenesis is the process during which calories in your body are used to digest food and produce heat. It’s also thought that green tea suppresses appetite, leading to weight loss.  

    Does it work?

    In one 2005 study, people who took a mix of green tea extract, caffeine and guarana before every meal burned around 179 more calories 24 hours after. However, other studies found that green tea extract had no significant effects. Plus, having too much green tea extract could damage the liver, leading to liver failure. Be very careful with your brew.

    Apple cider vinegar

    What it is

    Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, as it’s called, is a vinegar made from crushed, fermented apples, yeast and sugar. Standard fermentation stuff. It’s used in food and in almost everything else, from curing UTIs to helping heartburn to bloatedness. So it’s natural that we turned to ACV for weight loss.

    What it does

    ACV has high levels of acetic acid. This acid has been shown to improve metabolism and can prevent fat deposition in mice. From there, various studies started rolling in that found ACV can deliver modest weight loss.

    Does it work?

    We’ll let Dr Robert H. Shmerling, Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing, say it for us. “In all, the scientific evidence that vinegar consumption (whether of the apple cider variety or not) is a reliable, long-term means of losing excess weight is not compelling.” However, ACV might prevent blood sugar spikes, making you feel better. That’s about it.

    READ MORE: What To Know Before Taking Apple Cider Vinegar Pills To Lose Weight

    What it is

    Green coffee beans are coffee beans that are not roasted. The active chemical in the raw bean, chlorogenic acid, is destroyed when one roasts the bean. It’s thought that this acid is what contributes to weight loss.

    What it does

    A natural antioxidant, it’s thought that chlorogenic acid keeps inflammation in the body at lower levels and could also lower blood pressure. The chemical may work by lowering blood sugar and blocking a fat build-up but studies are yet to validate this claim.

    Does it work?

    When it comes to weight loss, the research is murky. Some claim that when taking green coffee bean extract and a low-calorie diet, you’ll lose more weight than just being in a caloric deficit. But the amount of weight difference isn’t significant enough to support the claim. Plus, green coffee bean extract doesn’t come without its own side effects, ranging from headaches and upset stomachs to heightened anxiety. Use with caution.

    Sea moss

    What it is

    Sea moss, or Chondrus crispus, is a type of algae that grows in Atlantic oceans. It grows in different colours, from purple, white and green and each colour has its own set of benefits.

    What it does

    Sea moss has a long list of purported benefits that should be studied more thoroughly. They contain vitamins and minerals, are low in calories and are reportedly high in live bacteria that support the gut. Because it’s high in fibre, it might work for weight loss by keeping you fuller for longer, preventing you from overeating and leading to that all-important caloric deficit.

    Does it work?

    The research on sea moss is fledgling at best and more needs to be studied before experts can make a definitive link between weight loss and the ocean grub.

    READ MORE: Um, People Are Using Sea Moss For Weight Loss But Does It Work?

    All in all, while weight loss pills could yield results, they’re no replacement for the tried-and-true expert-approved weight loss methods. What that looks like? Regular exercise and a healthier diet. “Taking diet pills may have a small effect on weight loss, but they do not foster positive behavioural changes that ultimately lead to sustained weight maintenance, positive self-esteem or longevity,” says Lee. “Many of the beneficial components of weight loss pills can be taken in through an adequate and varied diet. Building on beneficial habits around food intake, movement and mental well-being is more likely to create a lifestyle that enhances overall health, longevity and acceptance of one’s self.” More

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    We Asked A Yoga Instructor For The Best Back Stretches To Tackle Upper And Lower Back Pain

    Back pain? Join the club. Per the KZN Department of Health, some 30 to 40% of South Africans are affected by back pain at some point in their life. Back stretches help, so heed these tips from yogis for the best back stretches to ease out niggles and get that aah-inducing feeling that relieves it all.

    So what causes back pain?

    Back pain is caused by several conditions: arthritis that affects the lower back and spinal cord, osteoporosis (your spine’s vertebrae become brittle), or even muscle and ligament strain caused by repeatedly lifting heavy objects.

    What’s more, sitting at a desk all day causes back pain to intensify. According to UCLA Health, “sitting in a slouched position can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the spinal discs”, leading to prolonged pain. Over time, these pains can be intensified. Got a bad posture? You can thank your slumped shoulders for back pain, too. Slumping or slouching loads your back in a way isn’t supported by your spinal structure. The offshoot? “The intricate network of muscles, discs, and joints in your back tend to be pushed beyond their tolerable limit, causing pain,” according to Spine Health.

    The power of back stretches

    Doing back stretches regularly can elongate the back, reduce the stiffness in the muscles supporting the back and improve the range of motion and overall mobility. Also, it could help you maintain a good posture, since the muscles are stretched out and are able to better support a good standing or sitting posture.

    Yoga instructor Amy Hopkins weighed in on a few back stretches that can help with your back pain. Yoga is a popular workout for your rest days or for when you want to stretch or strengthen your muscles. Do these moves in your own flow every day and feel your back unwind.

    Back stretch gear

    These tools can elevate your stretching routine and deliver those aahs.

    Use a foam roller over your back to get some deep tissue massage going.

    Prop a yoga block under your back to release tension and relax your back muscles.

    A yoga mat delivers comfort and helps with slipping while you stretch things out.

    READ MORE: A 4-Week Home Workout Plan To Get Fit And Strong AF

    Get started…

    Start by releasing tension along the spine with a series of Cat and Cow postures. Begin in a tabletop position, hands beneath shoulders, knees beneath hips, on a mat or carpeted surface, fingers spread wide, tops of feet pressed into the mat. Do this slowly, five times each move for a total of 10 long breaths. These stretches bring flexibility into the spine and are great for stretching the back, hips and abdomen. They’re good for relieving lower back pain and sciatica (lower back into hips and butt).

    The Cow Posture

    Inhale as you lift your forehead and eyes to gaze up towards the ceiling.

    Drop the belly as you curl your spine, as if you have a Pilates ball balancing on your back.

    Actively tilting your tailbone upwards will help create the curve.

    The Cat Posture

    Exhale as you round the spine (imagine the ball is beneath you now) and suck your belly button into your spine.

    Press your hands into the mat, creating a lift in your shoulders.

    Drop your head and gaze towards your belly button.

    Actively tip your pelvis forward.

    Come back to a neutral tabletop position to move into the next pose.

    READ MORE: The 3 Stretches You Should Be Doing Daily

    Back stretches for the upper back

    Child’s Pose With Side Stretch

    From tabletop position, bring your toes together and spread your knees so that each knee is at the edge of the mat.

    Fold forward over your lap and let your belly hang softly between your thighs, arms stretched out in front of you.

    Actively try reach your bum to meet your heels. This elongates the spine. Stay here for five to 10 breaths.

    Walk your left hand over to just outside the left side of the mat. Place your right hand on top of your left, so you really stretch out the right side of the back and shoulders. Hold for five to 10 breaths.

    Move your hands back through the centre, then over to the right side, placing the right hand outside the right side of the mat.

    Place your left hand on top of the right, so you feel a nice stretch along the left side of the back and shoulders. Stay here for five to 10 breaths.

    Thread The Needle Pose (good for the whole back)

    From tabletop position, inhale to lift your right hand up towards the ceiling; as you exhale, thread the needle: bring the right hand and arm through the ‘hole’ you create on the left side with your left arm and left thigh.

    Bring the arm all the way through so you’re lying on your right shoulder and your right cheek and temple are on the mat. Extend the left hand out in front of you so your arms form perpendicular lines. Stay here for five to 10 breaths.

    Walk your left hand back to underneath the left shoulder; inhale as you push up through the left hand, lifting your right hand back up towards the ceiling. Exhale to place the right hand back on the mat, so you’re in a neutral tabletop position.

    Repeat on the other side, starting by inhaling as you lift your left hand towards the sky, and then thread the needle on the other side. Stay here for five to 10 breaths, then come back to tabletop position.

    READ MORE: LISS: A Complete Guide, From What It Actually Is, To Why And When To Do It

    Back stretches for the lower back

    Supine Twist

    Lie on your back, bringing your arms into a T-shape.

    Bring your knees in towards your chest, then slowly release both knees over to the right-hand side.

    Rest your head either facing upwards or looking over your left shoulder.

    Keep both shoulders on the mat and try to keep your knees pressed together. If your top leg lifts up, you can fold a towel and place it between your knees (or use a yoga block).

    Stay here for five to 10 slow breaths. Bring your knees back up to centre and then over to the opposite side. Repeat.

    Sphinx Pose

    Hopkins says that because we spend so much time sitting, our lower backs can take a lot of strain. The Sphinx Pose is a counter-pose to sitting and promotes the natural curvature of the spine, relieving back pain.

    Start by lying on your stomach. Feet hip-width apart and with your forearms on the mat, bring your elbows to rest directly beneath your shoulders.

    Be mindful of the pressure on your lower back – if this is too painful, you can shift your elbows slightly forward.

    Hold the pose to five to 10 slow breaths. Release by lying on your belly, right cheek to the mat.

    You can then move into Child’s Pose to finish off.

    Women’s Health participates in various affiliate marketing programmes, which means we may get commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. More

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    7 Best Lower Back Stretches To Ease Aches And Pain

    There’s nothing more satisfying than finding that ahhh-inducing stretch when you have a tight and achy back — and nothing more maddening than not being able to hit that spot. But doing the best lower back stretches for yourself is important – especially when we sit at a desk all day, or even if we’re on our feet.

    Lower back pain is near-universal — in fact, about 80 percent of people experience it at one point or another, according to the American Chiropractic Association. “Where the spine meets the pelvis is kind of a crash site,” says Patrick Donovan, owner of Heather Lane Physical Therapy.

    Why you should be doing back stretches

    It’s little wonder that this area is a pain point for so many seeing as how the daily habits that commonly cause lower back issues are the ones you likely do often: spending hours hunched over a computer, phone, or steering wheel, which all cause the muscles in the front of your pelvic area to shorten and tighten, too. When the hip flexor muscles are contracted in a seated position, those muscle fibres start to shorten, pulling the pelvis forward and pushing the lower back out of alignment. Translation: weaker — and achier — back muscles.

    You’re probably getting the picture that the more time you spend sitting, the more likely you are to experience lower back pain, but it’s not like you can just stop working a desk job or driving your car. Being mindful of your posture and standing up regularly can help you prevent lower back…but what if you’re already hurting? Stretches can definitely help.

    A quick disclaimer: If you’re experiencing extreme pain or pain that radiates down your leg, talk to a doctor or physical therapist to make sure there’s nothing serious going on — and do that before trying out the stretches below, says Donovan.

    If it’s just everyday aches and pains, here are the 7 best lower back stretches to do at home, ASAP.

    How to: Start in a kneeling position, with shins flat on the ground, butt on heels, knees slightly wider than torso and hands in lap. Walk arms forward to straight on the floor, lower stomach down onto thighs and rest forehead on the floor. Hold for at least 30 seconds.

    READ MORE: The 3 Stretches You Should Be Doing Daily

    Sphinx Pose

    How to: Start by lying on the stomach with legs extended, elbows bent, upper arms close to ribs and hands planted on either side of the rib cage. Lift chest and walk hands forward so forearms rest on the floor parallel to each other, with elbows beneath shoulders. Press forearms and hands into the floor and tuck tailbone in to engage lower abdominals and support the spine. Lengthen from tailbone through crown of head.

    Hold for at least 30 seconds.

    Thread the Needle

    How to: Start on all fours. Slide the right hand along the floor behind the left wrist until the shoulder is on the floor. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Reverse movement and lift right arm into the air, twisting to gaze up. Repeat on the other side.

    Low Lunge Twist

    How to: Start in a low lunge with the left foot forward between hands and the right leg extended straight back. Draw the left hand straight up overhead toward the ceiling and rotate the torso from the waist to gaze up at it. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then return to low lunge and repeat on the other side.


    How to: Start on hands and knees with elbows and wrists below shoulders, knees below hips and toes untucked. On the inhale, drop your stomach and arch back to lift your tailbone and chest towards the ceiling. Look up. On the exhale, pull the navel to the spine and tuck the chin and pelvis towards the navel to round the spine. (Initiate the movement generated from the tailbone and allow the spine, neck and head to follow.) Repeat for at least 30 seconds.

    READ MORE: LISS: A Complete Guide, From What It Actually Is, To How And When To Do It

    Spinal Twist

    How to: Start lying on the left side with legs bent and both arms straight, the right one resting on top of the left. Keep left arm on the floor and knees pointed toward the left side, then open right arm across the body in line with shoulder, bringing it to rest on the floor on the right side of the mat. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

    Seated Spinal Twist

    How to: Start seated with legs crossed. Plant left foot outside of the right thigh, lifting knee as needed. Extend arms up overhead and twist torso to the left, placing right elbow against the outside of the left knee and left hand on the floor behind (but close to) back. On the inhale, lengthen the spine. On the exhale, gently twist lower back, middle back and then upper back to the left. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Then, repeat on the other side.

    This article was originally published on More

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    The Top Beginner’s Weightlifting Gear To Elevate Your Training

    If you’re taking up weightlifting in 2024 – and need the weightlifting gear to go with it, you’re not alone. More and more women are taking up the sport, a positive turn from the days we shied away from heavy weights. As we know, weightlifting is not only paramount for supporting bone and muscle health (something that declines as we age), but it builds epic muscle that in turn, shreds our fat stores. Not only that, but the feeling of lifting something heavier than you were previously able to is unmatched.

    Why choose weightlifting?

    Weightlifting can score you a tighter, more toned body and act as a shield against some diseases. It decreases the risk of osteoporosis as well as pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and postpartum depression. It also protects from heart conditions, injury (especially from falls) and diabetes.

    READ MORE: Exactly How To Start Your Weightlifting Journey

    The right weightlifting gear, explained

    When it comes to weightlifting gear, the right stuff can elevate your training experience from one that’s only ok to one that’s epic and helps you grow and create those #gainz. We’ve outlined the top weightlifting gear, including shoes and the rest to help you on your way to greater heights in the sport.

    Nike Swoosh Flyknit

    It all starts with the right bra. Ultra-stretchy fabric on the back makes changing a breeze, and the traditional adjustable hook-and-eye clasp lets you find the perfect fit, especially with an ever-changing body. It’s perfect for all training, especially when transitioning from deadlifts to burpees. This bra’s got you covered.

    Burnt Core Tights

    Consider these your new go-to tights. The mid-rise waistband provides a supportive fit, constructed with new cutlines for increased flexibility, and squat-proof fabric ensures optimal coverage while you train.

    READ MORE: Try This Tough-ish Workout To Really Build Your Strength

    Mr Price Sport Cropped Vest

    You’re going to want a soft, breathable vest to take you through each workout in style. This one is quick-drying, comfy and cute.

    Reebok Nano X4

    Stay light and breezy with this shoe. The new Nano X4 introduces a completely redesigned upper with all-new FLEXWEAVE material engineered with a midfoot ventilation panel for increased breathability, durability, and a premium look and feel. Plus, the Lift and Run (L.A.R) Chassis System features innovative midsole technology built for added stability when lifting and cushioning for running and jumping. Available from February 15th.

    Wrap Gym Glove

    For when you’re not keen on calluses on your hands, get a pair of grippy gloves to help. This pair has an adjustable wrap-around fit so you can lift anything or nail a pull-up with ease.

    READ MORE: Just These Two Workouts Make A Killer Six-Week Workout Routine

    Vinyl Weight Set

    If you’re looking to begin your weightlifting journey at home, this set helps a ton. Your set can be transformed into a barbell, kettlebell or dumbbell. It goes up to 20kg, so it’s perfect for beginners.

    Foam roller

    After every session, use this foam roller to soothe muscle pain from weightlifting sessions. It’s lightweight and compact but has grooves that provide dee-tissue massage when you roll muscles over it.

    Women’s Health participates in various affiliate marketing programmes, which means we may get commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. More

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    10 Best Maternity Leggings For Moms-On-The-Move

    Ditch the maternity myths, mama! Those “one size fits all” leggings you loved pre-bump won’t cut it anymore. As your beautiful belly grows, your workout wardrobe needs a little refresh. No more tugging up tights, flashing with rogue crop tops, or feeling like you’re suffocating mid-burpee. Enter: the glorious world of maternity leggings.

    We scoured the fitness landscape (read: online reviews, mama forums and our own sweaty test runs) to bring you the top 10 maternity leggings that’ll move and groove with you every step of the way. Whether you’re doing a HIIT class, stretching it out with yoga, or just chasing toddlers around the park, these leggings will keep you comfy, supported and (dare we say?) stylish. Plus, they’ll transition seamlessly into postpartum life, so you can rock them long after baby arrives. 

    READ MORE: The 15-Minute Pregnancy Workout You Can Do At Home

    We called on the experts

    We polled our amazing community of moms to find out what really matters when it comes to maternity leggings. Key components to look out for across the bank were: stretch, comfort, support and moisture-wicking material.

    Fitness influencer Michelina Chindiya shared: “What I looked for were leggings that had a good hold on the belly area. I found that initially with the cheaper tights, they would stretch out fast and I’d find myself pulling them up ever so often throughout my workouts. I also looked out for full coverage of my belly.” She adds, “I wanted leggings that weren’t too thick and a hassle to put on, because as you get bigger, especially in the last trimester, it’s hard to get into a super tight set of leggings.”

    Fitness trainer and influencer Katy Cloeté says that comfort is her number one priority. “As your belly grows, support is necessary. Some women may need this support earlier in their pregnancy rather than later. Most women won’t be doing extreme exercise later on in their pregnancy, so extreme compression and support is not necessary. But a snug enough fit to make your belly feel supported is a must for me… again, this probably mostly boils down to comfort,” she adds.

    Katy’s tip for the summer: “If you are carrying at your biggest during the summer months, then leggings with moisture-wicking materials are best! You’ll most likely be perspiring a lot more than usual. I also prefer to stick to darker colours that will hide any sweat marks in unwanted places!”

    Our Top Maternity Leggings Picks:

    adidas ⅞ Maternity Leggings

    These leggings are comfy, supportive with a super high waist that grows with you, and moisture-wicking to keep you dry. Plus, say goodbye to annoying seams and hello to distraction-free movement.

    Nike Zenvy Maternity

    These unbelievably soft biker shorts are squat-proof, sweat-wicking and oh-so-gentle on your skin. The maternity design adapts to your changing body, so you can move freely and confidently throughout your pregnancy. Plus, they’re durable enough to handle all your workouts.

    PUMA Maternity Studio ⅞ Leggings

    These PUMA leggings boast dryCELL tech to keep you cool, a supportive high waist and a cropped silhouette that’s both trendy and practical. Because pregnant mamas deserve some fierce workout style, too!

    Maxed Maternity Mid-Thigh Tights

    Looking for an affordable and comfy option? Look no further than these mid-thigh tights from MrP Sport. They offer supportive stretch, an extended band for your growing bump, and all at a budget-friendly price. Perfect for keeping active throughout your pregnancy journey.

    Cotton On Maternity Core ⅞ Tights

    Simple yet effective, these tights from Cotton On tick all the right boxes. The comfy curved waistband grows with your bump, the ankle length is perfect for warmer weather and the elasticated waistband adds an extra touch of comfort.

    Reebok Lux Maternity Tights 2.0

    Reebok knows comfort is key, and these leggings deliver. From indoor cycling to prenatal yoga, they’ll keep you supported and sweat-free with their high-stretch waistband and seamless construction. Plus, they look as good as they feel, thanks to the flattering design.

    Bellysimo Maternity Leggings

    Silky soft and perfect for any activity level, these leggings are a budget-friendly gem. The cotton/nylon blend belly band is comfy and supportive, and the non-ravel fabric allows you to customize the length for the perfect fit. A great choice for all stages of pregnancy and postpartum.

    H&M Mama Cycling Shorts

    Not technically workout gear, but these soft jersey shorts with a wide, comfy waistband are ideal for walks, errands, or lounging. They offer just the right amount of coverage and movement for your growing bump, making them a versatile addition to your mama wardrobe.

    Nike One Maternity Short

    The Nike One Biker Shorts are sweat-wicking, squat-proof and totally opaque, so you can move with confidence. The maternity design ensures a perfect fit throughout your pregnancy, and the versatile style makes them perfect for workouts or everyday wear.

    OTG Maternity Leisure Short

    Up your lounge game with these comfy and lightweight shorts. They’re perfect for relaxing at home or running errands, offering just the right amount of coverage and movement for your growing bump.

    Note: Always find out from your doctor whether exercising while pregnant is safe and reassess the situation at every check-up. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, stop and call your doc.

    Women’s Health participates in various affiliate marketing programmes, which means we may get commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. More

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    10 Best Kettlebell Core Exercises For Strong, Sculpted Abs, From A Trainer

    No offence to sit-ups, planks and hollow holds, but basic core exercises can feel drab day after day. They work the abdominals, but if you’re looking for stronger, sculpted abs, let me introduce you to a secret weapon: the kettlebell. I’m talking about kettlebell core exercises, specifically.

    First things first: “A kettlebell is a cast-iron ball with a handle attached to the top and due to its offset load and centre of gravity, the kettlebell is used to train power, endurance, speed and strength,” says Lauren Kanski, CPT, creator of the Body & Bell program on the Ladder app and a WH advisor. “It’s a very ballistic style of training, but in my opinion, it’s elite if you’re strapped for time and/or financial investment.”

    The kettlebell also adds a fresh spin on core workouts because it uses your entire body, says Kanski. “Many people don’t understand that full-body complex movements are the best options to train the core compared to core-centric exercises,” she explains. And based on the pure versatility of a kettlebell, they allow for a well-rounded workout to build power, strength and endurance in the various movement patterns, all while sculpting your core, she adds.

    Meet the expert: Lauren Kanski, CPT, is the creator of the Body & Bell program on the Ladder app and a WH advisor.

    Another perk? Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or beginner, kettlebell exercises are effective for anyone and everyone, stresses Kanski. These moves are easy to adapt to your goals and level by changing up the load, speed, time under tension, isolation and tempo.

    As for how often you should do kettlebell exercises, Kanski recommends four to five days a week for optimal results. “The best part about the kettlebells is all the goals go hand in hand,” she explains. “You get leaner, stronger and more athletic as you spend time learning the skills.” (Here! For! It!)

    For a killer total-body workout, keep scrolling for Kanski’s picks for kettlebell core exercises.

    10 Best Kettlebell Core Exercises

    Instructions: Pick one lower-body move, one upper-body move and either a windmill or Turkish get-up. Do 3 sets of 10 reps for each of the upper and lower body exercises and 2 sets of 3 reps for the windmill or Turkish get-up.

    Pro tip: Focus on your breath. “Inhale as you move the load toward the floor or brace to lift and exhale as you move the load away from the floor,” Kanski says. “It applies to all main lifts, swings, cleans and snatches because breathing controls the core engagement.”

    1. Kettlebell Goblet Squat

    Why it rocks: Get ready for a total-body torcher because this move works your upper body, lower body and abs, says Kanski. Your core also works extra hard to stabilize your trunk as you squat up and down.

    How to:

    Start standing with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and hold a kettlebell at chest height with both hands, elbows bent and pointing toward the floor.

    Inhale as you sit hips back and bend knees to lower body until thighs are parallel to the floor, elbows brushing the inside of knees.

    Pause, then exhale as you explosively press through heels and scoop hips forward to return to standing. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 reps.

    2. Kettlebell Renegade Row

    Why it rocks: This an awesome full-body exercise with an upper-body focus, says Kanski. You’ll also work your anti-rotational core which is key for stabilizing your lower back and preventing your hips from rocking side to side, she adds.

    How to:

    Start in a high plank position with kettlebells in each hand, hands directly under shoulders, feet behind you about hip-distance apart (or wider for more stability). Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.

    Inhale and engage core as you slowly draw kettlebell in right hand up to right hip as if you were putting in pocket. Keep elbow close to body and pointing upward.

    Exhale, keep core engaged and body still, as you continue to push through left hand and slowly return weight to the starting position.

    Repeat with the left side. That’s 1 rep. Continue alternating for 10 reps.

    3. Kettlebell Deadlift

    Why it rocks: Not only is this an awesome move for better balance, but you’ll feel it in your hamstrings and glutes, says Kanski. It’s also a functional movement for walking and running gait strength, she adds.

    How to:

    Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a kettlebell with both hands in front of you, near thighs.

    Engage core, keep back and legs straight, hinge at hips and send butt back as you inhale and lower kettlebell toward the ground. Keep weight in heels.

    Maintain position and lower as far as your flexibility allows, ideally the kettlebell level with the middle of your shins.

    Squeeze glutes, contract hips, engage core and exhale as you drive back to the starting position. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 reps.

    4. Kettlebell Seated Overhead Press

    Why it rocks: This move takes your legs out of the equation and forces you to work your hips, core and upper body, says Kanski. You’ll also notice your triceps engage as you extend the kettlebell overhead, she adds.

    How to:

    Start seated with legs extended, butt on ground, back straight, with a kettlebell in each hand, arms bent, elbows narrow, palms facing inward and weights resting against upper arms.

    Inhale and in one motion, rotate palms away from body and press the kettlebells overhead until arms are straight and biceps are by ears. Squeeze kettlebells tightly so there is no bend in the wrists.

    Exhale as you reverse motion to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 reps.

    5. Kettlebell Lateral Lunge

    Why it rocks: This move works your frontal plane, which is key for injury prevention, says Kanski. It also targets your inner thighs which are necessary for stabilizing your core.

    How to:

    Start standing with feet under hips holding a kettlebell at chest.

    Inhale and engage core as you take a large step out with the right leg and sit hips back, bending right knee until right thigh is parallel to floor while left leg remains straight, toes of both feet facing forward. Stay tall in the chest and keep kettlebell close to body.

    Exhale and push through the right heel to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

    6. Kettlebell Windmill

    Why it rocks: This is a hip-dominant movement that works your rotational core, says Kanski. You’ll also engage your obliques as you rotate and stabilize the kettlebell overhead.

    How to:

    Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing toward left at a 45-degree angle, with a kettlebell in right hand, right arm extended straight overhead and left arm by side. Keep eyes on the kettlebell.

    Inhale as you rotate chest to the right, look up at the kettlebell and slowly hinge at waist to lower torso toward floor and touch left foot with left fingers, pushing hips back to the right corner of the room. You can bend left knee as much as needed to rotate but keep standing leg straight.

    Pause, then exhale as you reverse motion to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 slow reps, then switch sides and repeat.

    7. Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up

    Why it rocks: This advanced move packs a punch and works your rotational core, hip strength, grip strength and upper and lower body, says Kanski. It’s also great for promoting overhead mobility and stability, she adds.

    How to:

    Start lying faceup with right leg straight on mat, left leg bent, foot flat on floor, right arm out at the side on floor at 45-degree angle and left arm holding kettlebell above shoulder, triceps on floor and elbow at 45-degree angle from body.

    Raise the weight up above the chest, keeping your gaze on it, until arm is straight but not locked at the elbow.

    Push into the right forearm to sit up.

    Rise onto the right palm, lift hips off floor and slide right leg behind body until kneeling on right knee with shin parallel to top of mat.

    Sweep right foot back behind body to come into kneeling lunge with both legs bent at 90 degrees. Push through feet to stand bringing feet together under hips.

    Reverse entire movement step-by-step to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

    8. Kettlebell Squat To Overhead Press

    Why it rocks: Not only will you feel a burn in your upper and lower body, but this is an “elite” core move since it works your anti-rotational core and builds power in your legs, says Kanski. It’s a win-win.

    How to:

    Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart holding a kettlebell in each hand, arms bent, elbows narrow, palms facing inward and weights resting against upper arms.

    Inhale and lower body down into a squat.

    Engage core and in one motion, exhale as you push through heels to stand, rotate palms to face away from body and explosively press the kettlebell overhead until arms are straight.

    Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 reps.

    9. Kettlebell Halo

    Why it rocks: This move is key for stabilizing your abs and promoting 360-degree core strength, as well as improving the range of motion in your shoulder joints, says Kanski. Hello, shoulder mobility!

    How to:

    Start standing with feet hip-width apart holding the handle of a kettlebell with both hands in front of face, elbows bent and wide at sides. Engage core with belly button pulled in toward tailbone.

    Keeping both elbows bent and the rest of the body still, slowly circle the kettlebell around head once, keeping the weight at eye level. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 reps in each direction.

    10. Kettlebell Farmer’s Carry

    Why it rocks: It might look simple, but this move is a full-body exercise that hits the upper and lower body, in addition to your core, says Kanski. It’ll also target the smaller stabilizing muscles as you stay tall and fight the urge to rotate toward the side holding the kettlebell, she adds.

    How to:

    Start standing with feet together, a kettlebell in left hand, arm by side and right hand on hip.

    Engage abs and take a small step forward. Continue stepping one foot in front of the other for a total of 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds then repeat on the other side.

    Benefits Of Kettlebell Exercises For Core And More

    1. Build muscle

    If you’re looking to build major muscle, Kanski says kettlebells are your go-to. Because most kettlebell exercises recruit your *entire* body (hello, Turkish get-ups and squat to overhead press), you get more bang for your buck in less time, she adds. You’ll also notice a lot of kettlebell moves promote time under tension which is extremely effective for muscle hypertrophy (AKA an increase in muscle size).

    2. Produce power

    When training with kettlebells, you’re using compensatory acceleration (for example, swinging the bells as quickly as possible) which torches calories and generates extremely high neuromuscular engagement, says Kanski. “The unique shape and offset load also act as an extended lever, which allows you to produce more torque and power,” she explains. As a result, you build explosive power which is key for overall sports performance and muscular endurance.

    3. Train grip strength

    Kettlebells are phenomenal for grip strength and wrist flexion, in turn, supporting shoulder and elbow health and longevity, says Kanski. After all, you have to use your wrists, elbows and shoulders to control the bell while moving through various planes of motion.

    4. Experiment with training variety

    Based on the 10 moves above, it’s clear there’s a wide variety of exercises you can train with a kettlebell, says Kanski. Whether you’re training lower body, upper body, or core, you’ll see major gains with only one kettlebell. They’re also portable and take little space in your home or gym.

    5. Boost cardiovascular activity

    Not only are kettlebells killer for strength gains, but research shows they also increase aerobic capacity. In fact, one study found that kettlebell exercises could significantly improve aerobic capacity to boost cardiovascular fitness.

    This article by Andi Breitowich was first published on Women’s Health US. More

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    The 3 Stretches You Should Be Doing Daily

    Wanna feel more balanced, have fewer aches and pains and stand taller? Here, expert Aaron Smith shares the three stretches you’ll need to add to your repertoire: the laughing baby stretch to release tension, lunge stretch to unlock flexibility and cobra stretch to boost your posture. Get ready to move with newfound ease and grace!

    Pro Tip: To maximise your stretching routine, think about adopting general good habits which will help change your life and feeling of well-being. Include setting your office chair to a height where your feet touch the floor but your knees are not higher than your hips, pelvic floor contractions when driving or brushing your teeth and/or using your legs whilst bracing your abdominals to lift heavy objects and smiling with your collar bones.

    1. Laughing Baby Stretch

    Imagine a baby, laying on its back, holding its feet and laughing whilst it rocks from side to side. This stretch is amazing for helping to stretch the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. Try laying on your back, hold the outer edge of your feet with your hands and bend your knees towards your armpits positioning your elbows inside your knees. Then hold your feet wide apart from each other and lengthen your lower back along the floor. To advance the stretch and target the hamstrings more, you can gently straighten your legs too.

    RELATED: The 14 Yoga Stretches To Do Daily If You Want To Become More Flexible

    2. Lunge Stretch

    The lunge stretch targets your hip flexors (psoas major) and medial quadriceps. Tight hips and quadriceps can contribute to aching backs and slouched postures as they pull your pelvis into a forward, anterior tilt. Lengthening them will help the pelvis sit in a more neutral position reducing tension in the lower back and enabling you to stand taller and prouder.

    Getting down on one knee (as if you were going to propose to your partner!) lean your body weight forward into your front leg, keeping your torso upright and knee at a 90-degree angle over the ankle (move your foot forward if the knee goes past the toes). At this point, you should be feeling a stretch through the front and top of the back leg and to make it a bit juicier, reach your arms above your head and slightly arch your torso back and take long inhalations and exhalations.

    READ MORE: The 8 Best Groin Stretches For Anyone Who Sits All Day Long

    3. The Cobra Stretch

    The cobra stretch lengthens the front of the body and strengthens the many long stabiliser muscles of the spine. This will improve spinal mobility and also help us stand taller and prouder with fewer aches and pains in the back and shoulders.

    Lay on your stomach on the floor, legs out straight, front of the feet flat on the floor (plantar flexion), forehead to the floor hands on the floor under the chest and elbows pinned up to the ribs. Inhale, press the lower body and front of the pelvis to the floor and push the upper body up from the floor, making a gentle backbend and letting the head tilt so that you can see the ceiling. Keep the arms active as they hold you up and keep pressing the lower body to the floor. Exhale, then gently release to the floor and repeat again.

    The article by Nikolina Ilic appeared first on Women’s Health Australia. More

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    LISS: A Complete Guide, From What It Actually Is, To Why And When To Do It

    You’re likely well-versed in HIIT, but how much do you know about LISS, a.k.a. ‘Low Intensity Steady State’ training? Also known as LISS cardio, the low-intensity training includes workouts such as walking, hiking or cycling. And it’s packed full of rewards that you’ll not want to be missing out on.

    So, we’re diving into a full explainer on what LISS is really about, from what LISS cardio is good for, to how to do a LISS workout properly and when to add it to your weekly schedule. Ready?

    1. What is LISS?

    ‘LISS’ stands for Low-Intensity Steady State training, so instead of pushing yourself to breaking point for short bursts, you aim for a lower level of exertion for a long, continuous period of time.

    For many years, LISS was the go-to exercise for burning exercise cals (think long runs and endurance cardio) but when its younger and speedier cousin HIIT (high-intensity interval training) came along, it was quickly relegated to the B-team. The main difference between the two is that in HIIT, you’ll get your heart rate close to max for a matter of seconds before resting and repeating, whereas in LISS your heart rate will rise to a much lower intensity but will be kept there for minutes or even hours. You can see why some people swung to team HIIT – with shorter bursts of exercise needed for health benefits.

    However, those of you that were quick to hang up your walking shoes may have jumped too soon – LISS has a myriad of benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked.

    In fact, a weekly routine that contains both LISS and HIIT workouts might help you hit your goals more quickly than if you were to commit to just one – more on this later.

    2. Benefits of LISS training

    There are myriad benefits to LISS cardio, including:

    Pain elimination

    Posture improvement

    Fat burn

    Improving your body’s cardiovascular capacity

    It’s accessible and scalable to all fitness levels

    Research shows that LISS can be just as beneficial for cardio health as HIIT and that there’s no difference in fat loss between groups who did continuous training and interval workouts.

    3. What are some example LISS workouts?

    LISS training is any low-endurance workout, all at a relaxed level. These can include:

    To be precise, LISS training or LISS cardio is any low-endurance workout that’s around 50-65% of your max heart rate, depending on your fitness level. In other words, you should still be able to hold a conversation whilst performing LISS, so it’s a good form of exercise to do with a friend or the family.

    ‘LISS is important because it breaks up your week,’ WH cover star and PT Kayla Itsines previously explained at Women’s Health‘s Live Virtual event.

    ‘Going for LISS [exercise] is so great for your overall fitness and also for your mind as well,’ she continued. ‘Set a 15-minute timer or a 20-minute timer and go for a walk and when it goes off, come back. It’s a really good way to break up your week and still stay active and motivated to do more.’

    But, for those who strongly dislike walking, cycling or hiking – don’t worry, you’re not alone! – there are some other options to get your LISS-fix:

    ‘A semi-fast yoga class you can do at home,’ is one option according to Itsines. Or, ‘you could even march on the spot while watching TV,’ she suggests.

    Try these LISS workouts:

    A two to five-kilometre walk, aiming for a pace between 8 and 10 minutes per kilometre depending on fitness levels.

    Hopping on a treadmill, cross-trainer or stationary exercise bike for 30-60 minutes at a moderate pace.

    A Vinyasa or ‘flow’ yoga class that keeps your heart rate between 40% and 60% of your maximum.

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    5. LISS vs. HIIT

    Unlike HIIT – where you go balls-to-the-wall switching between max-effort bursts and short recovery periods – LISS is all about exercising at a slow and steady pace that burns fat over other energy sources, such as carbohydrates or food.

    ‘HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) alternates between powerful, limit-pushing bursts and slowed-down recovery periods, while LISS helps you achieve longevity in your training,’ explains Michelle Morrey.

    6. Why is LISS good for fat burning?

    Itsines frequently recommends LISS as part of her training programmes – citing the fact that LISS exercises such as walking burn the most fat per calorie when compared to jogging, running and sprinting.

    ‘In order to metabolise fat the body needs oxygen and the lower the intensity, the more oxygen is available to be used by the body to break down fat,’ Itsines explains. When you’re jogging or sprinting, less oxygen is available meaning that your body will use other energy sources, such as carbohydrates, for energy instead of fat.’

    Bear in mind, however, HIIT does still burn fat, as well as helping with muscle adaptations – plus it burns more calories in a shorter space of time, so if you can’t find the time for a full LISS workout, then HIIT is a great alternative.

    7. How much LISS should I do a week?

    At WH, we encourage you to experiment with your exercises and try out new workouts that will get your heart rate going – do make sure you see your GP if you have a condition, are pregnant, or are feeling under the weather – but working out is also about balance and finding out what’s good for you.

    ‘Ideally, only 20% of your workouts should be high-intensity,’ says Morrey. ‘Whether you’re an Olympic athlete or a mum, it’s the same. Say you work out five times a week, only two sessions should be HIIT. If HIIT is not carefully controlled, it can lead to injury.’

    The good thing about LISS is that it’s an easy, accessible and family-friendly way to keep fit and healthy.

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    8. Who is LISS good for?

    Luke Worthington, PT, Nike trainer and sports scientist, breaks down exactly why LISS isn’t just ‘the easy option out’:

    ‘TypicallyHIIT sessions have appealed to those who are time-poor people who need to fit in a short and effective workout. But, HIIT can actually cause more pressure as it’s a high-stress mode of exercise for the body but also for the mind and the nervous system.”

    So from this perspective, LISS may actually be best for those with stressful lives and could benefit more from a low octane, long duration exercise session that is more calming for the parasympathetic nervous system as well as causing less damage to the body,’ says Worthington.

    Morrey agrees with LISS being something that could benefit the vast majority of people but also something that’s gaining in popularity traction too:

    ‘There’s been a pendulum shift, which I’ve seen all over the world. Sport science is changing, and we’re realising that over-stressing the body is not beneficial and can lead to injury and sickness,’ she says.

    9. So, is LISS cardio good?

    It’s a resounding yes from all experts. In fact, Worthington tells us that he prescribes LISS workouts to almost all of his celebrity clients, including Dakota Johnson. They’ll do ‘LISS cardio, like a 60-minute walk, on non-workout days, around three times a week,’ he tells WH.

    This article by Bridie Wilkins and Morgan Fargo was originally published on Women’s Health UK. More