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Keeping fit (versus fat) during lockdown

Given the disruption to our daily routine and built-in habits, many are panicking about gaining body fat, losing muscle and the potential implications for our general health and well-being.

This is on top of the stress, anxiety and uncertainty we’re all experiencing. It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed and find yourself mindlessly eating/snacking due to the monotony, boredom and stress of our current situation.

To help combat the constant fridge-raiding, here I give you some tangible tips on how to manage your nutrition, health, well-being and sanity!

1) Your Food Environment
This is the number one area that you have control over. The food you bring into your home matters. Surrounding yourself with highly palatable/junk-type food leads to overeating. Do not purchase foods that you cannot control yourself around, especially packets of things like crisps, biscuits and snacks – who can eat only one crisp?! Out of sight, out of mind. Instead, keep nutritious, filling foods in the house that you enjoy and satisfy you.

2) Mindless snacking
Try not to consume meals/snacks when distracted (eg, when watching TV) as this can increase your food and overall calorie intake.

3) Develop your cooking skills
With more time on our hands, lockdown is a great opportunity to hone your cooking skills and develop your recipe repertoire. Cooking homemade meals in bulk is an easy way for you to continue to consume nutritious meals and practise portion control, plus it’s a money-saver! 

4) Routine
Maintaining some routine can provide mental clarity and structure to your day. My clients and I have found this to be extremely beneficial. You can create a daily routine, or a weekly structure as a method to maintain some normality. I’d recommend including regular meal and bed/wake times, a set training/exercise schedule, and regular social interaction (e.g. video/phone chats).

5) Keeping active 
Walking or any formal cardio is an easy way to stay healthy, improve mood, enhance cognition, reduce anxiety and keep a lid on body fat. I strongly encourage adding in some form of weight bearing or resistance exercise (e.g. dumbbells or bodyweight) to maintain and/or gain muscle tissue. Pick an activity that you enjoy and focus on how great it makes you feel afterwards.

6) Exposure to light early in the day
Where possible, aim to get some natural light exposure earlier in the day to help regulate your biological clock or circadian rhythm.

7) Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important and perhaps underrated aspects of our lifestyle that plays a crucial role in our health. Sleep is restorative, and a lack of it can disrupt many systems in your body that protect you and keep you functioning at your best, including your immune system. Prioritise your sleep – this is the perfect opportunity to start creating healthy sleep habits.

8) Stay connected – mental health
During isolation it’s super important to stay connected. With modern technology, it’s easy to check-in with family, friends and loved ones. Reach out, communicate and ask if they’re okay or if there is anything you can do to help.

Stay positive and, for everyone’s sake, stay at home as much as possible!

Kevin Garde
Nutritionist and Bodyscan Consultant