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Keeping a Handle on Christmas Weight Gain

Posted Friday 08 December 2017 13:07 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

The idea of gaining weight over the festive season is so ingrained in the Christmas culture of food and drink that we almost take it for granted. Of course we all indulge in December a little more than we normally would during the other eleven months of the year, but does this really mean we are all in danger of gaining unnecessary weight in the run up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve?

The short answer, according to the stats, is yes.

In fact, as a population the UK is more likely to gain weight now than at any other time of year. The average person will gain an extra 1.3 pounds during the holiday season, and in the case of extravagant eating and drinking sessions like Christmas dinner we may even consume a day’s worth of calories in a matter of hours. And although it may seem like a single month of excess isn't a big deal, it can be incredibly difficult to shift that weight again in the New Year.

In many cases, a poor diet in December only causes us to crave fatty and sugary foods and drinks in January - something a couple of weeks in the gym in January won't tackle effectively. Over time, a poor diet can have health implications such as poor heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even impotence.

But fear not, preventing weight gain at Christmas is easier than you might think.

5 tips for preventing weight gain at Christmas

There are no quick fixes for preventing weight gain at Christmas. It’s all about knowing how to stay healthy in December and keeping these measures in place throughout the festive period. But this doesn’t have to be difficult, and certainly doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the festivities.

3 square meals

Research from the University of Massachusetts suggests that people who eat three or more times a day tend to weigh less. A main factor behind this is the simple fact that when we eat three hearty, balanced meals, we feel less inclined to graze throughout the day on all the sweets and chocolates lying around at Christmas. Breakfast is particularly important — options like porridge can help you feel fuller throughout the morning.

Everything in moderation

Simply put, the secret to knowing how to stay healthy in December is to take everything in moderation, especially food. Remember, research shows that it takes twenty minutes for your body to register when it is satiated. So have a breather at dinner time before heading up for a second helping, and think: “am I really hungry?”

Winter walks

As well as improving your mood and increasing your creativity, walking for thirty minutes a day can also help you lose weight or just keep the pounds off by improving your body’s response to insulin. That’s why, as well as being a delightful festive activity to do together, winter walks in December are a great and simple way of preventing weight gain at Christmas.

Know the risks of booze

Alcohol promotes weight gain in several different ways, making it particularly dangerous if you’re trying to stay healthy over Christmas. Alcohol supplies you with excess calories, promotes a higher appetite, increases your impulsiveness and reduces your willpower. It also increases feelings of lethargy the next day, making you less likely to take part in anything remotely active.

Of course a few festive tipples at Christmas is nothing to be ashamed of, but, like food, it’s important to moderate your intake for a simple way of preventing weight gain at Christmas.

Consider medication for preventing weight gain at Christmas

If you are overweight and feel your health is suffering as a result, NHS-approved medication like Xenical can help you lose weight in a way that’s healthy. It works by preventing your body from absorbing the fat from the food you eat, meaning you are far less likely to put on increasing amounts of weight over the festive season.

In clinical studies, almost two thirds of participants using Xenical lost at least 5 per cent of their body fat. Other clinically proven options include Mysimba: a weight loss medication which acts within the brain to reduce appetite.

For advice, treatment and support about how to stay healthy in December, contact the team at Express Pharmacy today. Give us a call on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet online Live Chat service.

Related Products: Xenical Mysimba
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It’s World Vegan Day! But Is It Really Good for Your Health to Cut Out All Meat and Dairy?

Posted Wednesday 01 November 2017 11:22 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

Despite a surge in popularity, vegans still only make up less than one per cent of the UK population. So what are the benefits of a vegan diet, and should you jump on the bandwagon?

World Vegan Day has taken place at the beginning of every November since 1994, and has continued to grow in both publicity and popularity. The awareness day aims to highlight the health and lifestyle benefits of a vegan diet, which takes vegetarianism one step further by cutting out any produce that comes from an animal, including things like dairy.

But what exactly are these benefits of a vegan diet, and could going vegan actually increase your overall health? In honour of World Vegan Day, we’ve done some digging and found out exactly how going vegan could be good for you.

The benefits of a vegan diet include:

Weight loss

One look at any of the material on World Vegan Day will tell you that a major benefit of a vegan diet is weight loss among those who previously considered to be obese or overweight. Weight loss can come as a direct result of veganism and vegetarianism because on average, these diets tend to be lower in total fat, particularly saturated fat. Animal products are actually the main source of saturated fat in our diets, so veganism really lowers these rates.

Of course, medication can also help boost the success of a healthy weight loss regime.

Increased physical fitness levels

Similarly, an increase in physical fitness is also one of the benefits of a vegan diet, as many athletes follow the lifestyle in order to boost their performance. Plant-based diets, on the whole, have been shown to provide more energy and accelerate recovery – although, care does have to be taken in finding suitable protein sources on a vegan diet.

Fewer migraines

Nobody likes migraines, but many of us assume that they’re an unavoidable part of life. In many cases, however, migraine triggers can be related to food consumption. Studies have shown that low fat, plant-based diets can be beneficial to sufferers, as migraines are often directly linked to foods such as chocolate, cheese and alcohol.

If you are suffering from migraines, consulting your pharmacist could be a helpful first port of call. To find out more about some of the prescription medications available for chronic migraines, take a look at our treatments.

Stress reduction

As ambassadors of World Vegan Day will tell you, some of the benefits of a vegan diet are emotional as well as physical. Studies have found that veganism can actually help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, as healthy plant-based ingredients are often mood-boosting and provide energy. Stress can have both mental and physical implications on your health, so a change of diet could be the best decision you’ll make this World Vegan Day.

Better skin

A study on the population of Kitavan Islanders in Papua New Guinea found that not a single one of them suffered from acne, and the findings deemed this to be due to their diet which was (you guessed it) full of plant-based, unprocessed foods.

Foods with a high glycaemic load, and groups like dairy products, have been shown to trigger acne in some cases, so one of the benefits of a vegan diet could potentially be a clear, glowing complexion.

Of course, you don’t need to switch to strict veganism to see health benefits through your diet. Simple dietary changes can make all the differences to your overall health. But before you make any significant changes to the food you consume, it is always worth consulting a healthcare professional to ensure that changes will not have an adverse effect. While veganism is thought to be a healthy way of life, this requires a close attention to finding balance and variety in the food one ingests.

Express Pharmacy can provide you with NHS approved healthcare guidance from the comfort of your own home. Simply give us a call on 0208 123 0703 or use our discreet Live Chat service.

11 Summer Drinks That May Do You More Harm Than Good

Posted Monday 10 July 2017 11:24 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

Keeping hydrated is particularly important in warm weather. It is also important to pay attention to the types of beverage you choose to consume.

For many of us, summer is filled with refreshing smoothies, cocktails and cans of fizzy drinks. But what are these drinks actually doing for our bodies.

Soft drinks

It is worth bearing in mind that soft drinks have been directly associated with obesity, and once you look at them closely it’s no surprise. Not only are they packed with empty calories which won’t satiate your hunger, but they’re also overloaded with sugar.

Flavoured water

You might think flavoured water would boast more vitamins than normal water, but the only thing you’ll be getting extra of is sugar. If you are in need of hydration and need a little bit of something to satisfy the taste buds then it is worth taking a bit of time to consult the label to find an option that won’t expand your waistline. Ideally, you are looking for a bottle with just water and natural flavours on the label.

Juice drinks

Don’t let the word ‘juice’ fool you. Juice drinks or juice cocktails are usually little more than flavoured sugar water with a hefty dose of colouring thrown in. In order to find juice that is truly healthy, you need to be looking for beverages that are 100% juice and not made from concentrate.

Diet soda

Many of us think of diet soda as the healthier alternative to regular fizzy drinks. Whilst it’s true that it does often have zero calories, it also has no nutritional benefits. For hydration purposes you should be opting for water as your drink of choice, but if you’re craving a fizzy hit then go for carbonated water instead.


You might be surprised to find smoothies on this list seeing as they’re blended with fruit and veg, but it’s important to remember that any food in excess is bad for you. While smoothies can be a terrific meal or snack solution, they are not the way to hydrate your body. All too often, people make fruit-based smoothies that are hugely calorific and do not contain enough vegetable elements to make them diverse in nutrients. Smoothies can often add up to 700 calories worth of fruit in a single sitting, while shop-bought smoothies are even worse due to their astronomical sugar content.

Sports drinks

Sports drinks might be marketed as a post-workout health boost, but most of them are packed with artificial sweeteners and additives. The main benefit of sports drinks is their ability to replace electrolytes which are lost during exercise. But when consumed to excess, they can also increase calorie intake and undermine the hard work carried out during the exercise period.

Energy drinks

Many of us indulge in energy drinks for a caffeine hit when we’re tired, but the issue is that these drinks contain far too much caffeine and sugar to be considered healthy. To avoid the rush-and-crash of energy drinks, make green tea your caffeine source instead.


There’s a reason why homemade lemonade and shop-bought lemonade taste so different, and that reason is sugar. Whilst traditional lemonade is quite tart and refreshing, canned lemonade is essentially just another soft drink, packed with sugar and preservatives and boasting an average of 100 calories per cup.

Elaborate coffees

Here in the UK, there will inevitably be some rainy days this summer which will leave you craving coffee more than cocktails, but be mindful of what kinds of coffee you’re enjoying. A coffee from a high street chain, topped with milk, sugar and (in some cases) even whipped cream can contain up to a whopping 170 grams of sugar and a third of your daily saturated fat.


We all know that too much alcohol is bad for you, but what are the worst boozy drinks for staying healthy this summer?

Frozen cocktails

Frozen cocktails are just as bad for their mixer content as they are for their alcohol levels. A 16 ounce pina colada can contain up to 880 calories due to the sugary nature of all the creamy juices inside!

Hard spirits

One or two drinks a day has actually been found to be good for your health in certain ways, such as raising good cholesterol levels and increasing blood flow. But spirits in excess can be hugely detrimental to your health. Studies have found that the risk of cancer is 36% greater in those who drink three or more drinks a day.

For fast and discreet advice on staying healthy this summer, contact the team at Express Pharmacy. You can reach an experienced pharmacy member via our Live Chat tool or by calling 0208 123 0703.

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6 Unusual Ways to Help You Get Fit for Summer

Posted Wednesday 21 June 2017 11:19 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

Get fit for summer

With summer comes the pressure to get fit. Your social media accounts will most likely be bursting with fad diet ideas and the best summer workouts for torching fat. Check the tabloids and you’ll also see celebrities with enviable figures lounging around on exotic beaches.

Amidst all of this, how do you know what’s best for your health?

We take a look at the evidence behind some simple, safe ways to get healthy for summer.

More often than not, extreme diets do our bodies more harm than good. All too many of them deny your body vital nutrient and they certainly don’t provide long term results when it comes to fitness and weight loss. One of the key things to remember is that drastic diets are not sustainable and it is easy to put weight back on quickly once you come off your strict regime.

The best advice is always to build a plan that is well balanced and sustainable to improve long-term health. But it’s not all about calorie counting on packages. There are many other factors that you could be taking into account.

Let’s take a closer look.

Switching off your screens can lower your calorie intake

One study on children’s health found that youngsters who limited their TV and computer time consumed an average of three hundred fewer calories a day. Similarly, other studies across the age range have shown that eating without distraction gives you a better memory of what you’ve eaten, helping you feel fuller for longer. This means that watching TV, playing tablet games or using your phone whilst eating can leave you feeling unsatisfied with your meal and craving more food. Try to stop and think about what you’re eating.

Embracing spicy foods helps burn fat

A study published in the American Society of Microbiology found that mice being fed a high fat diet alongside a chilli pepper compound had less body fat than those who did not take the compound. This compound was capsaicin.

Capsaicin is the compound that gives chilli peppers their heat, but it can also help speed up your metabolism. Another study found that participants receiving capsaicin supplements after every meal burned between 100 and 200 more calories a day, and continued to burn fat for several hours longer after every meal.

Aim to include a broader range of spicy foods in your diets, as this can help your body burn off excess fat. The other good thing about spicy foods? They can make you feel fuller quicker.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that overloading on spice can have a number of drawbacks – such as giving you heartburn and even dulling your taste buds. So, as with everything in life: moderation is the key.

Getting enough sleep gives you energy and will power

Sleep is a big contributor to your overall physical and mental health, but it can also help keep you fit too. Not only does obtaining 8+ hours of sleep every night give you more energy to be more active when you’re awake, but studies have also shown that sleep can help you burn more fat and make you feel less hungry throughout the day.

One recent study by the Cognitive Neuroscience Society even found that sleep deprivation increases our perception of food odours, making snacking harder to resist. This is because sleep deprivation increases activity in the areas of the brain linked to olfaction, meaning our nose knows when we’re tired and makes food smells more appetizing as a result.

Changing your coffee habits increases your metabolism

A study last year found that drinking 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes due to the presence of chlorogenic acids and caffeine. These ingredients boost metabolic rate which can help with managing weight. Of course, if your caffeine hit of choice is a milky mocha topped off with whipped cream and dusted chocolate, you’re unlikely to be losing any weight as a result.

Take a couple of weeks to try switching to black coffee or herbal tea whenever you feel a caffeine craving. After a while, you may find your once beloved mocha a little too sweet for your tastes.

Follow the rule of ¾’s gives you a healthier plate

Sadly, 75% of Brits don’t get their five a day, but the rule of ¾’s can help.

When dishing out your meals, try to see your plate as a pie chart. The rule of ¾’s is the idea that 75 per cent of your portion should be made up of vegetables, whilst meat and carbs should make up the final 25 per cent.

The average plate uses meat as the main component of a meal, but this rule lets veg be the star of the show and helps you see meat as a treat. Aim for the carbs you choose to be healthy ones, like sweet potato, brown rice or grains. And get creative and exotic in your choice of vegetables so you don’t get sick of the same combinations every day.

Tried everything and need a little medical assistance?

For those who struggle to lose weight through traditional means, Express Pharmacy stocks Xenical – a prescription medication that can help with weight loss. Xenical prevents the body from absorbing the fat from food within the digestive system.

Xenical is one of the few weight loss products on the market that has been clinically proven to be both safe and effective. As with any medication, you should only ever take a weight-loss drug after a consultation with a trained medical professional.

Contact our experienced pharmacists today for a consultation to find out if Xenical is suitable for you. Start Consultation

Contact Express Pharmacy today. Our live chat service lets you get the answers you need discreetly from the comfort of your own home.

Related Products: Xenical

June 12th Marks the Beginning of Men’s Health Week 2017

Posted Tuesday 06 June 2017 16:51 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

Men’s Health Week takes place every year, so what it’s all about and why is it so important?

One in five men die before the age of 65. Men’s Health Week aims to increase awareness for men’s wellbeing and encourage men to live healthier, more active lifestyles in order to fight this statistic and improve the lives of men all over the world.

The movement aims to do this with the help of thousands of participants. By signing up to regular updates, using free resources to carry out events and activities, sharing images on social media and using hashtags you can boost awareness for this important cause.

Last year, Men’s Health Week focussed on stress relief. The year before, the topic was healthy living and in 2014 it was work and health. So what is this year’s focus?

This year’s Men’s Health Week is all about belly fat

For 2017, Men’s Health Week focuses on belly fat. Although women are by no means immune to abdominal fat, it is a fact that many more men carry an unhealthy amount of weight around their middle. The importance of keeping abdominal fat to a minimum extends far beyond the aesthetics of wanting a washboard stomach, as belly fat has significant implications for our broader health.

Abdominal fact consists of two forms of fat: subcutaneous fat, which sits just below the skin; and visceral fat, which surrounds organs such as the pancreas, liver and intestines. Although it is often the subcutaneous fat that we consider to stand in the way of achieving the perfect physique, it is visceral that is by far the most dangerous for our health and wellbeing. This is because visceral fat interacts with our vital organs and changes the way that the body operates – inhibiting circulation, causing inflammation and creating a hormone imbalance in the body, among other things.

Over time, large amounts of visceral belly fat can increase your risk of serious conditions like sleep apnoea, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer and even premature death.

So how much fat is too much?

It’s time to get measuring

You can check to see whether you’re carrying a high-risk level of belly fat by measuring your waist with a tape measure at the belly button (simply relying on your trouser size is not an accurate enough measurement.)

Waists below 37 inches (or 94cm) are generally in the low-risk category, whereas anything above this means you’re at an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and erectile dysfunction. If your waist is over 40 inches (or 102 cm), you are considered to have a significant risk of contracting one of these diseases.

It is worth noting that to get an accurate calculation of deep-lying visceral fat, an MRI scan is necessary. But measuring fat in this basic way can at least help men to benchmark their current state of health as a starting point to make improvements.

Why is Men’s Health Week so important?

The time to talk about men’s health is long overdue. Men are infamously bad at doing anything to address symptoms or seek treatment, choosing instead to ignore problems and keep them to themselves.

Studies have found that over a two-year period, men are half as likely to visit the doctor as women. What’s more, they are three times as likely to go five years without a visit and twice as likely to have never contacted a doctor as an adult.

The reasons for this seem to be a mixture of different factors, including feeling ‘too busy’ to seek medical advice, feeling embarrassed about intimate tests and being scared about receiving unpleasant results. But remaining in the dark about your health can have disastrous consequences.

Men, on average, die earlier than women. They’re also more likely to die from eight out of the top ten fatal diseases and are more likely to smoke, drink and live generally unhealthy lifestyles.

So, men, what should you do?

Get involved in Men’s Health Week by downloading resources, educating yourself and sharing messages on social media. You can even plan events, and don’t forget to get that tape measure out and check your belly fat level.

If you’re worried you might be carrying too much weight around this region, make the effort to implement some key lifestyle changes. Eating healthier, moving more and cutting down on alcohol could be enough to see significant health improvements. And, of course, never be afraid to seek medical expertise.

For further information, advice and guidance on weight management or related symptoms such as erectile dysfunction, why not speak confidentially to one of our trained pharmacists using our Live Chat facility.


Saleem Elmoussa on Sunday 09 July 2017 16:08

I am 80 years old, had a heart attach October 2016, had 5 stents and now taking the following medications:

Perindoprill 2m, Bisoprolol 2.5m, Lipitor 40m, Furosemide 40m,

Ticagrelor(brilinta) 90m, Aspirin 81, Nitro Patch 0.2m, Pantoprazole 40m, Potassium(allot- on) 10m and it D3

I used to take Viagra before the Heart Arrack. Kindly advise what can take now to be safe not effecting my heart / medication ?

Marina Abdalla on Wednesday 12 July 2017 13:25
Reply to Saleem Elmoussa

Dear Mr Elmoussa,

Thank you for reading our blog. After a heart attack, or any heart condition, it is not advised to take any type of erectile dysfunction treatment. However, this is something that should be discussed with your regular GP who can see your medical history, and full report of medication, and who will be able to advise you further.

I hope this has been of some help to you.

Express Pharmacy Patient Support Team.

Saleem EL-Moussa on Wednesday 12 July 2017 17:39
Reply to Marina Abdalla

HI Marina,

Many thanks for your quick response. I shall discuss your response with mg GP. Meanwhile, would it be safe to using the external cream ?