This fourth week of Thoughts From Quarantine is going to be a little different.
I've fielded the most questions about gaining the Quarantine 15. Folks are struggling to manage their weight through boredom and working where they eat. I've been making adjustments myself as my average day has been more sedentary than I'm used to.
This week is going to break down weight management so you can be more mindful of your eating and daily calorie needs. I've included an infographic that should give you a solid foundation for building meals.
THE FOUNDATION OF WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
There is absolutely no way to escape the law of energy balance. If you take in more calories than you expend you gain weight. If you expand more calories than you take in, you lose weight.
There are several ways to control calories in. To make the biggest difference in the shortest time, we need to identify the low-hanging fruit of your nutrition habits.
For that reason, it's important to track your current eating habits before changing anything. When you track, it helps to makes notes on how you were feeling when you ate in addition to the time, quantity, ingredients, and macros.
When you track make sure in include meals, snacks, drinks, and sauces.
Making a note of how you're feeling when you eat is a good practice as well. Figuring out if you're eating because you're bored, confused, anxious, apathetic, etc. will help you identify triggers to unwanted snacking.
MANAGING CALORIES IN
The biggest problem facing people right now is mindless snacking. I've had success with two approaches to mitigate the damage from snacking.
Get Healthier Snacks
If you snack on junk food of course that'll go poorly. Trade in crackers and chips for veggies or trail mix. If you're going to snack find snacks that support your health. Protein dense snacks usually keep you feeling satiated longer.
Make it Difficult to Snack
Make your snacks hard to get to. Seriously.
If you're short, keep your snacks way up high where you probably need to get a step stool out. There is a cupboard above my fridge that I need to get into a really uncomfortable position to open. That's a great place for unhealthy snacks since I really hate reaching that high and that awkwardly to get to them.
Or you can straight up hide them from sight. If you can't see your ice cream you're slightly less likely to eat it.
If you can make your unhealthy snacks as hidden and inaccessible as possible, you'll think twice before eating them.
Calorie expenditure is a bit more complicated. Without a state-of-the-art lab and being hooked up to a machine all day, you'll never know exactly how many calories you truly burn.
Based on your weekly progress, you'll be making adjustments across several factors.
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)
Your RMR is the number of calories you burn each day staying alive, executing basic body functions, and maintaining homeostasis. This is by far the biggest piece of your calorie expenditure. The more muscle you have the higher your RMR because muscle is more calorically expensive to maintain than fat. If your body composition is changing while in quarantine, your RMR may be decreasing as well, meaning you need to adjust to needing fewer calories.
Your gym may be closed but you still need intentional physical activity. Resistance training (bodyweight, TRX, bands, dumbbells, etc.) gets you the biggest metabolic bang for your buck. For up to 36 hours after resistance training you have an elevated metabolism. This is due to factors like Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption and recovery. To keep your metabolic fires stoked non-stop, make sure your doing some challenging resistance training at least every other day. In a 60 minute time frame, cardio activities can burn more calories during the workout, but the post-workout metabolic window is only 12 hours at most. I'm not saying stop doing cardio, both are essential for optimal health.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
Walking to work, doing laundry, making your bed - all these low intensity activities cost calories. Now that we are mostly laying around at home, this is the most changed piece of calorie expenditure. Taking a movement break for 10 minutes of every hour can help you get in the steps you've been missing while working from home.
Thermogenic Effect of Eating (TEE)
Digestion costs calories. Don't worry too much about this one since everything you eat contains more calories than it takes to digest. You can't eat your way to a calorie deficit.
Managing your weight in quarantine comes down to these things:
1) Eat the right amount of food. It will be less than you usually need due to less overall activity.
2) Work out every other day. Just 30 minutes of intense resistance training will cover your bases.
3) Hide your snacks. Literally.
Follow the nutrition guidelines infographic below for a good starting point. Make adjustments every 1-2 weeks.
Articles filled with actionable information to improve your approach to the 4 pillars of fitness.