The COVID-19 pandemic has officially spread across what feels like, the majority if not, the entire globe. This excludes people that are working in essential sectors, i.e healthcare workers, grocery stores, pharmacy, waste management, public transit, etc. To all of those people still working, if any of you read my blog, thank you. Thank you for risking your lives on a daily basis and for showing up to work, to earn some bread for your table when it feels like everyone else is on vacation. Believe me when I say this isn't easy for anyone, but especially not for those who are still heading to work as essential workers.
Anyways, let's get into some practical ways to eat to stay lean, without counting your macronutrients and being in self-isolation/ work-from-home using intuitive eating and some habit changes. I mean it should go without saying that even though you are quarantined or self-isolating (for the sake of this article it will be used interchangeably) unless you are faced with some other inhibitions, lack of gym equipment is not a reason for you to miss workouts. There have been plenty of new workout routines designed to maintain muscle mass gains during this time and prevent any losses that you have attenuated in the gym. We know that by activating the muscles, even suboptimally, that we can maintain muscle mass by training 1/9th of the intensity that was upheld before this extended time away from resistance training. We have the data to help us with our training, but we want to attempt to stay away from gaining the "wrong" kind of weight, and want to prevent getting pudgy while stuck at home? I'm going to provide for you the BEST 7 tips for staying lean when stuck at home! These are practical methods to keep control of your food choices, cravings, and other food behaviours. All the while, you won’t be required to know anything about macros or calories, rather implement some ideas to shift your focus, behavior, and improve your dietary intake substantially. You will find this particularly useful if you are already on a caloric deficit and are struggling to continue to shed the weight.
1. Consume Majority Vegetables.
One of the most practical approaches you can take to dieting is a concept called "volume eating." By making sure you consume over 50% of your dish in the volume of non-starchy vegetables (and fruit) then you will be consuming lower densities of calories and maintaining your satiety.
2. "Front-Load" your calories.
Front-loading calories, or consuming high-calorie at breakfast with reduced intake at dinner is beneficial and might be a useful tool for the management of obesity and metabolic syndrome. Has been shown in subjects to reduce cravings and seen a reduction in over-indulging.
3. Practice Mindful Eating
An effective way to begin with mindful eating is to grab your favorite bowl or plate, plate your meal and sit down at a dinner table to eat, with minimal distractions in the form of electronics. One of the leading causes of overeating is just by sitting yourself down with so many distractions that you mindlessly eat until there is nothing left to consume. You become a tornado consuming everything in sight. One of my favorite quotes, as it relates to dieting, was given to us by Brian Wansink, Ph.D. and author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We think," he said,
"Suppose you found yourself two miles from home without a ride. Although you could get home three times faster if you ran, most people would settle for walking. Running wouldn’t be worth the sweat and discomfort, and walking will get you there at a reasonable and painless rate. Each step brings you a little closer, and before you know it, you are halfway home and still moving forward.
It’s the same with mindlessly losing weight. It need not be a sweaty, painful sprint. It can be a slow, steady walk that begins with removing unwanted eating cues and rearranging your home, office, and eating habits so they work for you and your family rather than against you. These comfortable steps will add up—one or two pounds a month. Before long you’ll find yourself at home.
The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on."
I standby this statement, especially the last remark. The best diet is the one you don't know you're on. The moment you know you're dieting, cravings come along, however, if you're just setting aside a specific amount of measured food, is it really a diet?
4. Slow Down!
This might sound ridiculous, but it has some merit. After all, we know that it takes time to deliver a signal to your brain that your stomach is full, and this holds true. In order to understand that the body is full, we must find methods we can use to slow down our consumption of food to enhance our communication pathways between the brain and gut. One way to do this is to consume your meals with others. While in quarantine, this might not be possible for all, for those that are capable of taking part in socialized meal times it can provide not only improved satiety indicators but subjects with slower, structured meal consumption rates are at a higher chance for improved mental health, and thereby microbiome.
5. Get Rid of "JUNK"
Now, this part might be a little more unique to everyone's situation, so bear with me a moment. We want to put yourself in a specific scenario, and take any foods that might make you feel guilty for eating them, and throw them away. I know this might be expensive, so if you don't want to see food waste, then once you've consumed them- don't replenish the pantry with them. If you have access to foods that make you feel guilty, and that are readily at your disposal, you WILL eat them. If you're like me and need something for when your blood glucose drops (or whatever your situation is), it's going to be something like Orange Juice given that it will bring my blood glucose up rapidly, and I'm not going to be tempted to overindulge it. Chocolate/candy bars, on the other hand, I could eat a boatload so we're going to make sure we don't bring those into the apartment to be readily available.
6. Meal Prep Lean Proteins
I know a lot of us are home now, and can't be bothered to "meal prep" for
the simple reason that we don't see the point. Well, one thing that we've underestimated about our usual routine (when we're not in quarantine) is that our hunger sneaks up on us when we least expect it. Our hunger likely will not give us a heads up for when we're hungry and proteins are the most easily stored foods that will otherwise require a long time to make from scratch (especially if we're eating animal-proteins. Believe me, there are only so many hard-boiled eggs that one can handle eating for last-minute protein. Prepare your proteins ahead of time, and if you're like me, the WORST-CASE scenario you can quickly chop up a salad, while quickly making a 5 minute baked potato and you've got a healthy, nutritious meal that you will feel good about.
7. Shop around the outside of the grocery store.
This next one I'll likely go into more detail at a later date, but to keep it simple, only shop around the outside perimeter of the grocery store. You might be thinking, "what about the rest of the food items?" while there are SOME great things to be found in the middle aisles of the grocery store, that is also where you'll find the temptations and all of the high-calorie options. It is important to understand that you may grab an item or two from the center aisles of the store, but keep your shopping in this area to a minimum, and rather focus on fresh/frozen produce, proteins, etc.
HAVE A HAPPY SUNDAY GUYS! Hope you enjoy your weekend, try to get as many steps as you can, and if possible I hope this blog brought some value to your life moving forward! IF you enjoyed it, please give me a follow on Socials and Subscribe to my YouTube Channel! More content coming!