For more than a month, our daily physical activity has been necessarily reduced due to collateral confinement to COVID-19. Our weekend walks on the beach or in the mountains and the daily races to work and / or school are over. 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 activities, more or less routine, made up our unscheduled physical activity or NEAT . On many occasions they have been underestimated but they condition our daily energy expenditure, whether it is greater or less. Therefore, avoiding absolute sedentary lifestyle , as much as possible, is one of the key factors in achieving weight loss. Also in time of confinement.
To all this, we must add that our regular 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 to achieve weight loss, the most important is to reduce energy intake . This point becomes more relevant when our degree of physical activity drops considerably. This can happen in cases of injury or in a situation like the current one, being detained at home by 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 target. It requires being very meticulous in ensuring that the energy we consume through our diet is less than our total daily energy expenditure. It is there where a caloric deficit will occur that will set in motion a series of mechanisms to achieve the desired weight loss.
Furthermore it is important to note that weight loss is a complex metabolic process. Adaptations of the body itself to this energy restriction can occur that make us stagnate in the process of losing weight. To avoid it, it is essential to stimulate physical activity (NEAT) or exercise at home . 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 a series of squats (with your back straight resting against a wall and flexing 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, just use bottles or jugs of water, milk briks, encyclopedias in a backpack …). 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 holding online classes on platforms such as YouTube or Instagram.
It is also essential to ensure proper hygiene of rest . For this, we must ensure sleep patterns of about 7-8h daily . This will allow us to stay in sync with our circadian rhythm. 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 to lose weight at home being 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 purchase and a well-structured and organized pantry with healthy foods will help you take care of your diet.
- Avoid buying processed and ultra-processed foods or those that may be pecking 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.
- Take healthy snacks. Some examples are: whole fruit, preserved naturally or frozen. Vegetables (celery, carrots, cherry tomatoes …), natural or skimmed dairy products with no 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.
- It ensures 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 great contribution of fiber, will help you to regulate satiety better.
- Avoid large meals and foods with a lot of fat or sauces. Prioritize simple cooking such as steamed, homemade stews, oven, papillote, griddle …
- Take care of the size of your portion at lunch and dinner with the Harvard plate method . Divide your plate into 1⁄2 raw or cooked vegetables, 1⁄4 of animal or vegetable protein and 1⁄4 of carbohydrates. You can use the visual focus technique to trick your brain, using smaller plates or containers.
- Ensures good hydration by providing 5-2 L of water a day. They would also count infusions or tea, without sugar.
- Chew well and eat slowly to have better digestions and to be aware of your hunger-satiety levels.