Karl Henry: Timing meals will improve how you eat

So how did you get on with last week’s homework? Did you sign up for an event early next year to work towards? Have you been standing for an hour a day? If you completed your homework then you are well on your way to a better body, so give yourself a pat on the back.

This week, let’s progress things on. I want to discuss intermittent fasting.

It can sometimes be misunderstand, but it’s a great way to keep your eating under control. It has become such a trendy word over the past year and there are so many extreme versions that it can scare people off. But it’s actually a great way to improve your health and how you eat.

Basically it is a period of eating followed by a period of fasting or not eating.

Simple isn’t it?

It can be good to use to give yourself a time frame to eat in. For example, I recommend to my clients to eat all of their meals within a twelve-hour time frame. This gives you twelve hours to process and digest your food which your body will need.

Another healthy option is the eight-hour rule. Which simply states that you eat your meals within a eight-hour time frame – fasting for eight hours and sleeping for eight hours. As you can see, intermittent fasting gives you structure to your day, that’s one of the real benefits – structure brings discipline and this improves your health. It’s nothing to be scared of, so try it for the coming week.

Finally this week, I want to chat to you about the benefits of the simple squat. You have had them in your to-do list and they are possible the most beneficial exercise there is. Working all the muscles of the body, easy to do, easy to adapt, good for strengthening and slowing bone degeneration and so much more.

Squats will dramatically improve your health, how your body ages and reduce the risks of health related illnesses.

Yes they can be sore to start with, but as you get fitter and stronger they should will become easier.

How to do a squat: Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands out in front of the body. Now simply bend your knees and lower your bum to the floor, pushing all the effort through your heels, keeping them flat on the floor and then returning to standing position. If that seems too hard then you can try a sit-stand.

Simply stand up from your chair or couch and sit back down. That is a very basic squat. Aim to squat during the day or ensure you have it as part of your exercise programme.

* Every week, Independent.ie features The Real Health podcast with Karl Henry, in association with Laya Healthcare. In this week’s podcast: Healthy Family Eating with dietitian Aoife Hearne. www.independent.ie/realhealthpodcast


Recipe – Chicken & vegetable stir-fry

Recipe from Karl Henry’s latest book, ‘Karl Henry’s Healthy Living Handbook’, published by Penguin


⬤ Prep time —10 mins

⬤  Cook time —15 mins ⬤ Serves 2


⬤ 2 tsp rapeseed oil

⬤ 2 chicken fillets (125g each),

sliced crossways into 1cm-thick strips

⬤ 1 medium red onion,

peeled and thinly sliced

⬤ 1 medium red pepper,

thinly sliced

⬤ 200g mushrooms, thinly sliced

⬤ 2 large handfuls of baby

spinach (approx. 50g)

⬤ 3 spring onions,

sliced into 1cm pieces

⬤ 1 clove of garlic,

peeled and crushed

⬤ 1 tbsp soy sauce

⬤ ½ tsp sesame oil

⬤ 1 tsp chopped coriander


1. Put the oil in a non-stick wok or large non-stick frying pan and heat on high until the oil is hot.

2. Add the chicken and cook on a high heat for 2 minutes, stirring continuously with a wooden, silicone spoon or spatula.

3. Reduce to medium heat and add the sliced onion, pepper and mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously, until the onion and pepper have lost their crispness and started to

soften. Cook for a minute or two longer to soften further, adding a few drops of water if the pan is starting to dry out.

4. Add the spinach, spring onions and garlic, mix well and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil and stir through.

6. Scatter the chopped coriander on top and you’re ready to serve, either on its own or with brown rice or noodles.

■ One of the beauties of stir-fries is that you can add absolutely anything. This recipe will work just as well with thinly sliced beef, prawns or even tofu.

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