Help, my jean buttons are social-distancing! At least that’s what our author would be saying to someone if they weren’t isolating right now. When it comes to managing our weight and not eating more than we should, being in self-quarantine is far from ideal.
We’re no longer moving as much as we usually do, and our average daily step count will most certainly have taken a nosedive. Just to make things worse, that snack cupboard has become far more enticing, whilst the fridge door (and last night’s lasagna) is in much closer proximity.
It might seem like putting on the pounds will be an inevitable consequence of quarantine in the days of COVID-19, but that doesn’t have to be the case – far from it. We’ve compiled some expert weight loss tips so that you emerge victorious against the battle of the bulge.
1. Ditch the Processed Foods
The first step to fighting those binge-demons is not actually about how much you eat, but about what you eat. Studies have shown that a diet high in processed foods, sugar and simple carbohydrates results in feeling hungrier more often.
These are found in the comfort foods we tend to crave, especially right now when the walls seem to be closing in. Eating things like white bread, pizza, and sweets floods your bloodstream with sugar, triggering a spike of insulin to clear it.
This spike leaves you feeling hungry, looking for more sugary carbs to satisfy that hunger, which then starts the process all over again. It’s a vicious cycle, and easy to see how this can lead to overeating .
2. Focus on Whole Foods
Once you’ve taken the steps to reduce your intake of processed food, look to introduce more whole foods into your diet. The best diet plan consists of complex, unprocessed carbohydrates, that also have a higher nutritional value than junk foods, so they’ll strengthen your immune system too.
Focusing on the right kind of carbs such as vegetables and whole grains allows your body to digest these foods slower and stabilize blood sugar levels, meaning you won’t have those cravings for the snack cupboard like you used to .
3. Up Your Protein Game
Try to increase your daily intake of foods rich in lean protein (animal or vegetable based) and low in fat. Lean proteins have been shown to greatly satiate appetite, but not only do they keep you fuller for longer, they also build muscle whilst burning fat. Good sources of lean protein include chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, lean red meat, beans, lentils, and legumes .
4. Calorie Control
You don’t have to look to weight loss supplements or crazy diet fads to lose weight. At the end of the day, the intricacies of weight-gain come down to nothing more than calories in vs calories out. The body naturally uses a certain amount of energy (calories) per day for bodily functions and living.
That figure varies from person to person, but there are sources online that can give you a rough estimation of your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR), i.e. how many calories your body burns whilst resting.
Take that figure, and with the use of a food diary (for example the Food Pal app), you’ll be able to see if your daily eating habits are leading to a calorie deficit (weight-loss) or calorie surplus (weight gain).
Something that will help you attain a calorie deficit is exercise, and even if you’re confined to the house, there are plenty of home-exercise routines available online to get your heart pumping.
The endorphins generated by exercise also help your mood, improving your sense of well-being and making you less likely to depend on comfort foods to relieve stress. A third and practical benefit is that working-out and being active will simply take up the time you might usually have spent snacking or eating mindlessly.
6. Create a Routine
Being at home all day inevitably leads to more frequent trips to the snack cupboard, especially when the temptation is so close to hand. Put together a schedule of set mealtimes that is consistent day-to-day. This will help you avoid snacking unnecessarily, and you’ll also find the idea of a firm routine helps instigate a sense of order and mental wellness that carries you through your time in self-quarantine .
7. Stay Hydrated
It’s imperative to keep yourself well hydrated. The importance of drinking water throughout the day is easily forgotten if you are focused on your work or keeping up with the kids. Dehydration can result in fatigue or even headaches, and often people will think they’re hungry when, in fact, they’re just thirsty .
Additionally, being well hydrated can increase your metabolism and reduce your appetite. The general recommendation is around eight glass of water per day, however, much like your BMR this varies from person to person.
Try to reduce, if not switch out completely, the sugary sodas in your diet and stick to plain water, the cheapest and most hydrating thing of all. Fruits and vegetables are also a great source of water, so eating well will also help in this department.
8. Sleep More
Who would have thought that tackling overeating and weight-gain was something you could do lying down? A lot of us don’t get as much sleep as we need to, and it has knock-on effects beyond just feeling tired. When you lack sleep, your body goes through multiple changes that can lead to weight gain.
Being sleep-deprived reduces your levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses the appetite and encourages the body to burn energy. More sleep encourages the production of this hormone meaning your body can regulate its hunger and appetite in a much better way .
It might seem like it takes a lot to tackle the temptation of overeating. However, many of the things mentioned above are all connected, with one good habit leading to another: eating well means you’ll feel more energized, so you might do more exercise; this can reduce stress and help you sleep better which, as we’ve seen, helps reduce your appetite and overall calorie intake.
It might seem daunting but even just implementing one or two of these weight loss tips in your life will put you on the right track to avoid packing on the pounds during self-quarantine.