Staying lean on lock-down

This is obviously a unique time for all of us. With many of us now bound to our homes. With this comes unique dietary challenges, being at home you are also in the place where all your food lives. Due to the increased availability of food, the risk of boredom eating and decreased non exercise physical activity you run the risk of coming out the other side of this potentially gaining some undesired weight.

Food availability, with people now overstocking due to the need to leave the house less. What you do stock is important thing to consider and their should be a hierarchy to what you purchase. Plan meals in advance for the week or at least the next few days, this is something some of you might be become a lot better at. However the key message is this don’t buy in large quantities of snack foods. Its easy to buy things like crisps, chips, snack bars in large quantities given they a) arnt perishable and b) are easy to bulk buy. Last time I checked fresh fruit and veg are still on sale and tinned food bought prudently can be used to plug gaps.

Boredom eating is a huge issue potentially. The key here is not to target the food, which is gives us a nice psychological boost if we are feeling down, listless or not entertained. But to tackle the boredom, remember the last time you were so engaged in something you forgot to eat? Well that essence can help you, structured meal times and engaging activities in between can go a long way. Done long enough consistently enough this how boredom eating becomes emotional eating.

The drop in activity levels is almost assured if you are doing your part to help stop the spread of coronavirus, social distancing and staying at home. More people seem to be exercising from what Ive seen on social media and my brief trips to the shops. However what is probably missing now for you life is what we call NEPA. Non exercise physical activity, how active you are excluding exercise. Nepa regardless of exercise is favorable for long term health out comes

” At baseline, high NEPA was, regardless of regular exercise and compared with low NEPA, associated with more preferable waist circumference, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides in both sexes and with lower insulin, glucose and fibrinogen levels in men. BJSM

This is why the often cited 10000 steps figure is one that keeps coming up, it all counts as NEPA. Gardening, walking to and from places, standing and moving around at work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator all would have counted towards NEPA. Under our current restrictions this is harder to do. One suggestion Ill make is to work out at home and if you are in the UK use your alotted trip out for ‘exercise’ for a long socially distanced walk to get those steps up and increase NEPA. Other options include small space pacing using a pedometer on your phone to keep score, doing chores like cleaning or DIY.

Home workouts like ours can be used with little to no equipment in your own home.

Counting calories during this time also has its use, any calorific allowance is always going to be a best guess. But you can make a safe assumption that your calorific expenditure has probably dropped. The same rules apply however for losing or gaining weight. 500kcal above or below your daily requirements to lose or gain weight is a great rule of thumb. We also have space within this to toy with a few parameters, the easiest one is this, consume more protein, there is plenty of evidence now that increased protein intakes during mild calorific restriction lead to favorable body composition changes. Now before you crack open that can of corned beef. There are optimal mounts for this, with intakes as high as 2.5-2.6g/kg used in research so for a 100kg person this would be 250g of protein a day! This scales that the more calories you reduce the greater the protein intake has to be. This isn’t an argument for ketogenic diets or anything like but something to be mindful of.

Hopefully this gives you some things to think about when it comes to staying lean on lockdown.

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