How of­ten should I…?

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When it comes to your health, hap­pi­ness and, um, hy­giene, it’s not what you do that counts, but how of­ten you do it. With a lit­tle help from some of the UK’s fore­most ex­perts, we pre­sent your guide to to­tally boss­ing your life with the bare min­i­mum of ef­fort. Words: Nick Levy. Il­lus­tra­tions: Pete Gamien, Dan Woodger

How of­ten should I… wash my sheets? ONCE A WEEK

Your socks, your T-shirts and your grundies you’ll chuck into the wash­ing bas­ket on a daily ba­sis. So it’s pretty gross that when it comes to our sheets – which we’re in con­tact with for up to nine hours a night – one-third of us wash them only once a fort­night. “When you’re asleep, you’re rub­bing off your skin cells onto your sheets and sweat­ing into them,” says Dr Laura Bowa­ter, a mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist at the Univer­sity of East Anglia. “That cre­ates a per­fect breed­ing ground for bac­te­ria and fun­gus to grow, and it can lead to al­ler­gies.” And it’s worse still if you share your bed with your other half, as you’re in ef­fect dou­bling the amount of hu­man de­tri­tus be­ing shed. Even if you’re a gen­er­ally hy­gienic gent, it’s your other bed­mates that will get you. “Bed mites con­sume the skin cells that have come off your body,” says Bowa­ter. “They pro­duce fae­ces and that’s the thing that de­vel­ops your al­ler­gies.” The so­lu­tion is sim­ple: wash your sheets as of­ten as you can, but make sure that’s at least once a week. And what­ever your mom used to tell you, don’t make your bed in the morn­ing: mites thrive in the dark, warm, air­less en­vi­ron­ment. Fol­low Bowa­ter’s ad­vice: “Fold the cov­ers back to let light and air onto your sheets” – or you’ll find your­self in a mitey fine mess.

How of­ten should I… drink strong cof­fee? UP TO FIVE TIMES A DAY

Your morn­ing dou­ble-shot Amer­i­cano has been proven to lower your risk of ev­ery­thing from heart dis­ease to de­men­tia to di­a­betes, but that’s not why you drink it. No, it’s that re­as­sur­ing slap and shoul­der-shak­ing jerk into wake­ful­ness that has you go­ing back for more. Med­i­cally speak­ing, there’s noth­ing wrong with that. “Peo­ple can drink five or six cups of cof­fee a day with­out ex­pe­ri­enc­ing any ad­verse ef­fects,” says Peter Rogers,

How of­ten should I… have sex? AS OF­TEN AS YOU LIKE

“There’s no such thing as too much sex,” says sex therapist Si­mone Bi­enne. “You should have sex as of­ten as you want.” Un­less it starts to cause pain, of course, in which case you should prob­a­bly stop. Sex has been proven to re­duce stress, el­e­vate mood and aid sleep. Re­ally, the only prob­lem is that hav­ing less of it than you’d like has the op­po­site ef­fect and can lead to de­pres­sion. So if you’re feel­ing low, it’s time to get down. pro­fes­sor of bi­o­log­i­cal psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Bris­tol. “That’s well within the range where there are no harm­ful ef­fects.” The key, ac­cord­ing to Rogers, is to stick to what you know. “If you’re al­ready drink­ing four or five cups a day, adding an­other one prob­a­bly won’t make much dif­fer­ence. But if you start to feel jit­tery or anx­ious, that’s a sign that you should cut back a bit.” So un­less you’re main­lin­ing Ne­spresso pods di­rectly into your ar­ter­ies, you can wake up and smell the cof­fee, guilt-free.

How of­ten should I… eat eggs? EVERY DAY

Choles­terol panic? That’s so ’90s. The short ver­sion is that yolks raise “good”

HDL choles­terol and not the“bad” LDL kind. “In prac­tice, the level of choles­terol in­take from eggs is neg­li­gi­ble,” says Thomas San­ders, emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor of nu­tri­tion and di­etet­ics at King’s Col­lege Lon­don. There’s a nu­tri­tional bounty of vi­ta­mins A, D, E,

B12 and K, ri­boflavin, fo­late and iron in the yolks – but if it’s pure pro­tein you’re af­ter, eat as much egg white as you can man­age. All yolks aside, try cook­ing up these pro­tein­packed matcha (pro­cessed green tea leaves) egg white pan­cakes for a break­fast that will get you well and truly stacked.

The recipe is cour­tesy of Alessan­dro

How of­ten should I… go to gym? TWICE A WEEK (MIN­I­MUM)

If it’s cover-model gains you want, you need to hit the weights sec­tion at least four times a week. But it’s pos­si­ble to pack on mus­cle with an al­to­gether more re­laxed gym-go­ing rou­tine, says elite per­sonal trainer Tim Walker from Evo­lu­tion of Man (eom­fit­ness.com). “If you’re pressed for time, two solid ses­sions should keep you in some pretty good mus­cle, but you’ll need to re­ally tire your body by do­ing all the big power lifts in one ses­sion,” says Walker. In other words, squats, dead­lifts, pull-ups, bench presses, lat pull-downs and­mil­i­tary presses. Build strength and mus­cle mass with the heavy lift­ing, then keep it lean with five rounds of this bru­tal fin­isher:

Dead­mill sprint (20 sec­onds)

Step onto the tread­mill, but don’t turn it on – the “dead” bit refers to both the ma­chine and you. Hold the front or side bars,and shift the belt us­ing your own power. Give 100% ef­fort for the full 20 sec­onds.

TRX row (15 rep­e­ti­tions)

Grasp the TRX han­dles with a nar­row grip and lean back so that you’re at a 45° an­gle. Keep­ing your el­bows tucked into your sides, pull the han­dles into your chest and ease your­self back down.

Medicine ball slam (5 rep­e­ti­tions)

Place the heav­i­est ball you can man­age at your feet (this is go­ing to hurt, but you’re only do­ing it twice a week) and squat down to pick it up. Lift it above your head and slam it down as hard as you can. Af­ter five slams, rest for 30 sec­onds and get back on that tread­mill. Ver­denelli, Ex­ec­u­tive Head Chef of

Chucs in Lon­don (chuc­srestau­rant.com):

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS(serves 1)

3 egg whites / 1 scoop pro­tein pow­der / 1 tsp matcha / Pinch of salt / Pinch of bak­ing pow­der / Large hand­ful of fresh berries / 2T mango purée

METHOD: Beat the egg whites in a large bowl. Add the pro­tein pow­der, matcha, salt and bak­ing pow­der, and mix to­gether. Trans­fer the mix­ture to a fry­ing pan and cook for one minute on each side. In a sep­a­rate pot, heat the an­tiox­i­dant-rich berries un­til they’re soft, then add the mango purée. Serve the pan­cakes on a plate and topped with the berries and purée mix.

How of­ten should I… change my run­ning shoes? IF IT AIN’T BRO­KEN, DON’T FIX IT

The ad­vice from most shoe com­pa­nies and re­tail­ers is to change your train­ers every 800km. Longer than that, say man­u­fac­tur­ers, and you risk in­jury, as the cush­ioned sole wears away. “If I were sell­ing shoes, I’d tell you to re­place them every 800km too,” says Team GB ul­tra-run­ner Rob­bie Brit­ton, who reg­u­larly com­petes in 160km and 24-hour races and has an al­to­gether more rudi­men­tary rule: “If they’ve got holes in them, get new ones.”

How of­ten should I… watch porn? TWICE A WEEK

Porn and mas­tur­ba­tion go hand in hand.

Or, rather, hand in... well, you know. And in mod­er­a­tion, nei­ther is al­to­gether bad.

“If you watch porn with a part­ner, it can en­hance your sexual cre­ativ­ity,” says sex therapist Bi­enne. “But if you’re mas­tur­bat­ing to porn every day, it neg­a­tively af­fects your sex life. It can re­duce your self-es­teem and make you quite in­tro­verted, and you may reach the point where only you can sat­isfy your sexual needs.” Does that sound like you? Then it’s time to get a han­dle on your habit, says Bi­enne. “If you mas­tur­bate four times a week, half with porn and half with your imag­i­na­tion, that can be re­ally healthy.”

How of­ten should I… eat ba­con? TWICE A WEEK

Mil­lions of men across the planet wept into their fry-ups last year when the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion ranked ba­con (and sausages, ham and other pro­cessed meats) as a car­cino­gen, along­side as­bestos and ar­senic. But fret not: your ba­con sarmie is safer than you think. “The health risk is mea­sur­able, but it’s a small one com­pared with, say, smok­ing or al­co­hol,” says nu­tri­tion sci­en­tist San­ders. “It’s not as deadly as the me­dia was putting out.” To be on the safe side, San­ders sug­gests stick­ing to two help­ings a week and, in gen­eral, swap­ping red meat for chicken and fish.

How of­ten should I… eat a frog? EVERY MORN­ING

No nu­tri­tion­ist, di­eti­cian or med­i­cal ex­pert will tell you as much, but the health­i­est way to start your day is by grab­bing a big, fat, ugly frog and bit­ing into it. Hold on! No need to fish around in the gar­den pond just yet – the frog is a metaphor, you see. “The idea is that if the first thing you did every day was eat a live frog, ev­ery­thing else that hap­pened that day would be plea­sur­able,” says pro­duc­tiv­ity ex­pert Matthew Brown of Think Pro­duc­tive (thinkpro­duc­tive.co.uk). “So every day, when you’re mak­ing a list of what you’re go­ing to do at work, put a ‘frog’ on there – some­thing that’s been sit­ting around just not be­ing done. Once you do it, you’ll feel bet­ter about your­self and ev­ery­one will love you. So eat that frog once a day – it’s a good thing.” Want to be a pro­duc­tiv­ity ninja? Fol­low Brown’s top tips.

1: Fo­cus

“You don’t have time to do ev­ery­thing, but you al­ways have time to do the im­por­tant things. Multi-task­ing doesn’t work, nei­ther does con­stant self-in­ter­rup­tion. Find the rel­e­vant thing to do and get on with that.”

2: Zero in

“While you’re deal­ing with email, you’re just a ham­ster on a wheel. Check emails three times a day, say at 9am, 12 noon and 4pm. Go into your in­box, process your emails down to zero, then close it down.”

3: Re­lax

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant to have a to-do list, but you could work a 100-hour week and you still wouldn’t get through ev­ery­thing. Just re­mem­ber: no-one ever gets to the end of their to-do list.”

How of­ten should I… go for a run? THREE TIMES A WEEK

Whether you’re train­ing for your first Com­rades or your 10th Iron Man Triathlon, sim­ply go­ing for a jog every day won’t make you a bet­ter run­ner. In fact, with no re­cov­ery days, you’ll end up un­der­per­form­ing or in­jur­ing your­self. Save your long, steady jogs for Sun­day morn­ings and build two shorter in­ter­val ses­sions into your pro­gramme. You’ll be fit­ter and faster in a fort­night.

How of­ten should I… sleep naked? EVERY NIGHT

Go­ing com­mando un­der the cov­ers is the best way to en­sure the health of your soldiers, ac­cord­ing to a study from the USA’s Na­tional In­sti­tute of Child Health & Hu­man De­vel­op­ment, which found that wear­ing loose-fit­ting pants dur­ing the day and your birthday suit in bed is the best way to pro­tect sperm qual­ity.

How of­ten should I… eat pro­tein? THREE TIMES A DAY

Whether you’re look­ing to bulk up or shed fat, pro­tein is your ally – but myths abound about how much you can eat in a sit­ting. What­ever the self-ap­pointed ex­perts tell you, the truth is that you don’t have to wait two hours be­tween chicken breasts. “Your body can ab­sorb pro­tein and will store a cer­tain amount in the liver – it takes what it needs, and breaks down what it doesn’t need into urine. This can take a day or so,” says San­ders. “A healthy meal pat­tern is three times a day, with two snacks. If you eat big meals more of­ten than that, your pan­creas doesn’t get a rest, which isn’t good.”

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