It has been more than a month that our daily physical activity has been forcibly reduced due to the collateral confinement of COVID-19. Our weekend walks on the beach or in the mountains and the daily runs to work and / or school are over. Weight loss during quarantine All these stimuli were part of our NEAT, a term coined by the fitness community and an acronym for “non-exercise activity thermogenesis”.
The importance of unscheduled physical activity (NEAT)
These more or less routine activities made up our unscheduled physical activity or NEAT . On many occasions they have been underestimated but they condition our daily energy expenditure, be it higher or lower. Therefore, avoiding absolute sedentary lifestyle , as much as possible, is one of the key factors to achieve weight loss. Also in times of confinement.
To all this, we have to add that our usual training sessions in the gym or outdoors have been drastically reduced. For this reason, diet will be essential for weight loss to be possible .
How is body weight loss achieved?
Weight loss is achieved by achieving a negative energy balance . That is, eating less than what we spend. There are 3 ways to induce it:
1- Reduce energy intake.
2- Increase energy expenditure through physical exercise .
3- Combining the two points: reduce caloric intake and increase energy expenditure.
Of these three methods of achieving weight loss, the most important is to reduce energy intake . This point becomes more relevant when our level of physical activity drops considerably. This can happen in cases of injury or in a situation like the current one, being confined at home due to a pandemic.
Is it possible to lose weight while being confined at home?
We can say that weight loss is possible during confinement . However, it is not an easy goal. It requires being quite meticulous when it comes to ensuring that the energy we consume through our diet is less than our total daily energy expenditure. This is where a caloric deficit will occur that will set in motion a series of mechanisms to achieve the desired weight loss.
It is also important to keep in mind that weight loss is a complex metabolic process. Adaptations of the body itself to this energy restriction can occur that cause us to stagnate in the process of losing weight. To avoid this, the stimulation of physical activity (NEAT) or exercise at home is essential . How can we do it?
Increase exercise at home and ensure rest to avoid stagnation
Some examples are:
walking around the house, jumping, dancing, or doing series of squats (with your back straight against a wall and bending your knees to a 90 degree angle). You can also do push-ups, sit-ups or strength exercises with weights (if you don’t have weights, bottles or jugs of water, milk cartons, encyclopedias in a backpack are enough…). Another good option is to practice yoga and stretch. In addition, you can take advantage of the fact that, during these days, many coaches are doing online classes on platforms such as YouTube or Instagram.
It is also essential to guarantee a correct hygiene of rest . To do this, we must ensure sleep patterns of about 7-8h a day . This will allow us to keep our circadian rhythm in sync. To achieve this, it will also be important to achieve good stress management . You can do it through meditation, a very effective mindfulness tool.
Nutritional strategies for losing weight at home while confined
Next, I detail a series of strategies or nutritional tips that can help you achieve your weight loss goal:
Make a good purchase management . A well-structured and organized shopping and pantry with healthy foods will help you take care of your diet.
Avoid buying processed and ultra-processed foods or those that can be snacks for you (chocolate, cookies, sausages …).
Create a meal schedule. Complete your breakfast, lunch and dinner with a small snack mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Thus, you can regulate hunger during the day.
Have healthy snacks. Some examples are: whole fruit, canned fresh or frozen. Vegetables (celery, carrot, cherry tomatoes …), natural or skimmed dairy without added sugar (yogurt, cottage cheese, kefir, milk …) or vegetable derivatives (vegetable drink or soy yogurt …). Raw or roasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts…) are also a good option.
Ensure a diet rich in fruit (2-3 servings a day), vegetables (2 servings a day), whole grains and legumes (2-3 times a week). These foods, due to their high fiber content, will help you better regulate satiety.
Avoid large meals and foods with a lot of fat or sauces. Prioritize simple cooking such as steam, homemade stews, oven, papillote, iron …
Watch your portion size for lunch and dinner with the Harvard plate method . Divide your plate into 1⁄2 raw or cooked vegetables, 1⁄4 vegetable or animal protein, and 1⁄4 carbohydrates. You can use the visual focus technique to trick your brain, using smaller plates or containers.
Ensures good hydration by providing 1.5-2 L of water a day. They would also count infusions or tea, without sugar.
Chew well and eat slowly to have better digestion and be aware of your hunger-satiety levels.
It is always advisable to go to a dietitian-nutritionist to adapt the weight loss or improvement plan of body composition. It will help you set a healthy and realistic goal for yourself based on your particular personal and physiological needs.