Women's Health UK; Are They Really Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle?

This post has been in the making for a little while as I bought Women’s Health UK particularly because I wanted to read the interview with Millie Mackintosh, the Jan/Feb cover star. This post isn’t about Millie though, she’s an awesome strong woman who’s lifestyle, diet and exercise regime are something to look up to. This post is about Women’s Health UK’s ‘My Week on A Plate’ feature which should have been Millie’s diet in this edition as people would have wanted to know what she exactly eats in order to get her amazing body.

The issue I have with this feature is that women are going to buy this magazine (as I have) for advice, motivation, useful information and all round guidance to assist them on their health and fitness journeys. Printing the diet from a desirable person who’s obviously slim and gorgeous is going to make the average woman feel that she’s eating the wrong thing. This month’s feature was centred around blogger and Salem actress Ashley Madekwe and it’s giving off the wrong signals for a magazine that’s supposed to be promoting health. I just want to say that this is not, in any way, a pop at Ashley herself. If this was anyone’s diet that Women’s Health had published I would be writing this.
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I inputted Ashley’s Thursday into My Fitness Pal. I did this to see exactly how many calories she was eating and I was shocked to see that it’s only around 700. I’ve inputted the portion sizes that I expect she had, I had similar things already logged on My Fitness Pal in terms of salmon fillets and vegetable portions and either the RDA (i.e porridge) or an estimate on my part. This is purely my opinion but for Ashley, who works out 3-4 times a week, hiking and doing Pilates/Bikram yoga it doesn’t seem like a healthy amount of calories. I’m not a dietitian but 700 calories a day is way too little for a woman to be consuming. The ‘expert verdict’ at the bottom of the page expresses that Ashley should eat more regularly to keep her energy levels up and that her lunches are more like a snack, which I agree with.

Ashley's Diet

I also wanted to show you a few average days on my personal My Fitness Pal diary. I work out 4 times a week for around an hour and eat around 1800 calories a day which consists of an aim of 120g of protein, 60g of fat and 160g of carbs. I stick to my diary but do occasionally have a break from it when I have a meal out, or recently it’s been my birthday so I’ve been out for a few coffee and cake expeditions! I’ve included a Saturday where I went to Nando’s to be able to prove that you can stick to your macros and have a life. It’s a common misconception that you have to have little to no social life if you’re going to ‘diet’ but this, to me, is just my lifestyle, it isn’t a quick fix diet.

Nandos

On this day, I had a quick muesli yoghurt for breakfast and a cup of tea. I’ve added in 2 other teas for later on in the day too. I then had a chicken sausage, a pork sausage, two fried eggs (with 1 cal spray) and a slice of Burgen bread. This was pretty much a deconstructed egg and sausage sandwich and it was a freezing day and this was seriously comforting! People think that you can’t eat this kind of food when you’re ‘being healthy’ but you can and you can still lose or maintain your weight. I had a protein shake in the afternoon to keep me going before we went to Nando’s and then I had a quarter chicken (I always ask for the breast meat as opposed to the leg because you definitely get more chicken!), spicy rice and salad finished off with a little frozen yoghurt.

Next up, a typical week day food diary where I’m up at 5 for the gym, home by 6.15 having a protein shake and then eating my breakfast around 7.45. Eggs, salmon and avocado on toast with tea is a pretty standard breakfast for me! I’ll then have a snack around 10.30, usually cashew nuts or a banana then a snack around 12 and then my lunch about 1.30-2pm. I’ll have another snack around 3.30 of a cereal bar/yoghurt and fruit. For dinner we had bacon wrapped chicken with some BBQ new potatoes. For an evening snack I had some banana bread and we had some Valentine’s strawberries with chocolate dipping sauce for a cheeky treat which fitted into our macros. SO much food!
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I’ve shown two of my food diaries just to prove that I’m not saying one thing and doing another, I’m actually practicing what I’m bitching about and I feel like I’m in a lot better shape than I was at the beginning of the year. I combine this ‘diet’ with the LDN Muscle cutting guide to feel healthier and be fitter. I just wanted to point out that I was disappointed in Women’s Health for posting this feature and that maybe they should think about posting diets that involve at least double the calories that this one did. You can lose weight, maintain your healthy weight and have treats just by hitting your macros. And breathe!

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4 comments

  1. Hello there,

    This was brought to my attention and I thought I’d take the time to respond:

    I don’t count calories. Never have. I eat when I am hungry.

    What Women’s Health failed to mention is that this particular food diary was taken from a week where I was not at home in Los Angeles but in London visiting my mum for the week (hence the pie mash- they don’t have that in LA. Alas). Although I AIM to work out 3 times a week when I am at home I was not working out AT ALL that week. A fact I mentioned to them and they declined to include. I also do not do bikram yoga, pilates, ballet AND hiking all in one week. They asked me which my favorite workouts were and that was my reply. The magazine should indeed be clearer when publishing these diaries. They took an approximation of what I said and published it. Women’s health sent me 30 questions to answer and published perhaps a 5th of what I answered.

    I also think you could have been a little clearer in this blog post though… because whilst I agree that the Thursday you inputted into your fitness pal was a particularly low calorie day (a day when I’m sat at home reading scripts does not require much fuel for me) you did not count the calories on Saturday or Sunday. You also guessed what my portion size was… for example I have 1 & 1/2 cups of oats (with bran flakes mixed in) and my salmon fillets are HUGE.

    Magazines unfortunately are not as responsible as they should be for showing women realistic and truthful lifestyle goals. Just wanted to give a little insight 🙂

    Ashley x

    1. Hi Ashley,
      Thanks so much for your comment! It’s actually really nice to hear your side of it as such as obviously I didn’t think that you ate so many calories on the days that you were hiking or doing Bikram etc. My issue wasn’t with your diet per se, whatever works for you, however much you need, what you like to eat, isn’t what I was really looking for. It was the fact that women’s health wasn’t promoting a true representation of your diet or a healthy diet that women would look up to. As I said in the post, I would have said this regardless of who’s diet it was – it’s no reflection on you at all! I hope I haven’t caused any offence by this, that really wasn’t my intention. Again, the only problem I had was with Women’s Health finishing off their magazine with something that I believe they want women to look up to and they obviously didn’t specify what you were up to on each day etc. normal women with 9-5 jobs such as myself, shouldn’t be thinking they should only have avocado, tomato etc for lunch, to me when I’m at work, that’s a snack! 🙂

      Thanks again for taking the time to get in touch. 🙂
      Allie xx

  2. This is a great article, and commentary on how magazines can be way off the mark when posting about other people’s diets. the reason they use celebrities or well-known people is to trick people into thinking they have the secret. When obviously anybody living on barely any calories a day will lose weight!

    It would be better to educate people, than have them believe that the only way to get by is to starve themselves, and wonder why they have no energy etc.
    Thanks for writing about it, I never thought to check how much they’re actually having. You assume from reading that you have to start eating things you on’t like as they’re the magic diet foods!

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