For many of us, the last four months has been spent in lockdown, with little reason to leave the house and gyms & fitness centres closed. Furthermore, with many holidays and trips cancelled there has been little motivation to remain in shape. The most exciting part of the day has been reaching for our favourite snacks in the cupboard. This had lead to the lockdown combo of losing muscle and gaining fat. But as we now begin to emerge from the lockdown and many trips begin to go ahead, now is potentially the ideal time to kickstart your fitness regime and get back that previous progress that you have lost.
Many friends I have spoken to are in the same position. We are now working from home and our lifestyle has changed to point where we are doing far less exercise. Sitting on endless Zoom calls each day means you don’t actually end up walking very far. For those normally based in an office, them steps you do each day walking round have been cut back to practically zero. With many people reporting they have gained weight over this period, there has never been a better time to focus on your health and well-being.
Making progress on losing weight is not something that is just going to happen overnight. Keeping consistent requires focus over an extended period of time. To keep it simple, consuming less calories than you burn will result in weight loss. Following this simple approach of a calorie deficit can make burning fat easier, without any of the confusing diets. A common recommendation is a deficit of 500 calories per day, but this can be adjusted to fit within your weight loss goals. For example you may being to start with a smaller deficit e.g 250 calories per day.
Top tips to get started:
Ready to get started? take a look at our top tips for losing weight below:
Focus on real food & less snacks
If theres one food many of us are guilty of eating more of in recent months, it’s snacks. When working from home all day it is very easy to sit there and snack your way through a meeting and before you know it you have finished the packet.
Many snacks contain a lot more calories than you think, particularly when eating several of them. For example a Hobnob biscuit contains 92 calories. Thats 368 extra calories if you were to eat four of them during the day. Cutting out (or down) the snacks is a simple change you can make to your diet to reduce calorie intake. Convenience snack foods are also often high in carbohydrates & fat and have very little nutritional value in them. If you can’t resist a snack throughout the day, fruit makes a great alternative, while being an excellent source of nutrients. But do remember some fruits can be high in sugar.
When shopping for healthy foods, don’t let them foods marketed as “diet” or “low-carb” fool you. Many of them are still unhealthy foods which have been marketed as ‘healthier’ options to get you to spend your money. Instead focus on real foods which should make up the bulk of a healthy lifestyle. These include fruit, vegetables, meat and nuts etc. A nice top tip is to remember many of the foods you buy shouldn’t have a list of ingredients. Instead they are the ingredients that will go into a healthy meal.
Get back to lifting weights or resistance exercises
Regular workouts lifting weights have lots of benefits. Many of us will not have been to the gym for a workout for a number of months. This could even be the longest period you may stopped working out for in years.
Lifting weights can burn a lot of calories. During an intense workout your body can potentially burn hundreds of extra calories an hour. Furthermore, for up to 48 hours after an intense workout, the body will continue to burn a higher amount of calories. This is due to muscles getting damaged during an intense workout and muscle growth and repair taking place after, which uses more calories. You may not necessarily be gaining muscle whilst in a calorie deficit, but getting back into a training routine will mean you’re ready to get going once you are back at the gym. A key aim with lifting weights when trying to lose fat is to prevent the metabolism from slowing down, which can often happen when losing weight and potentially slow your progress
If you do not have any workout equipment such as weights available, don’t let that be an excuse. You can easily begin with body weight exercises such as pull-ups, dips and press-ups. All of these are easy with little equipment and great to get that pump. If you are looking for some low cost equipment, resistance bands can be found on Amazon for under £20. They are very flexible and can be used pretty much anywhere to complete a wide range of exercises.
Keep track of your progress
One of the biggest motivators can be keeping track of your progress and and seeing the results. Firstly there is keeping track of what you are eating. This is an easy way to monitor how many calories you are consuming and being able to keep within your goals. Many apps are available to do this. My favourite is MyFitnessPal which allows for easy tracking of calories, carbohydrates, fats etc. The app allows you to scan the barcode of many popular foods and will automatically populate the nutritional value.
As well as food consumed, it is also a great idea to track the amount of exercise you are doing. I like to set a goal for my step count each day. The often recommended amount of steps if 10,00 per day, but this can be adjusted to fit your goals. For example if you are participating in other sports such as cycling, you may not be so focused on step count. Many options are available to easy track exercise progress. Most phones now have built in step counters that work find when left in a pocket all day. Fitness bands are also available, with a number of low cost options such as the MI Band doing a great job at tracking progress.
The final item to check is your weight on the scales. When you see yourself everyday, it can be very difficult to notice how much weight you have often lost, which can be demotivating. But the results on the scales will give you an accurate result on how much progress you have made. Theres no need to weigh yourself everyday, instead aim for once per week and keep the conditions the same each time.
Eat high protein foods
Protein has a number of benefits and is a staple of many athletes nutrition. Diets high in protein can help to keep us feeling fuller for longer. This feeling of fullness means less snacking and feeling hungry throughout the day. Protein helps to build and maintain muscle mass. More muscles burn more calories and so keep the bodies metabolic rate higher. When focusing a meal on high calorie foods, there is also less room for foods which are unhealthy. A high protein diet contains at least 20% of calories coming from protein. There are many foods which are high in protein and great to support weight loss including:
Cut down or avoid alcohol
Many of us have found ourselves drinking more than we usually would during lockdown. When the sun is out it’s often an ideal time to sit in the garden with a beer. But regular drinking could have a noticeable impact on your ability to lose weight. The amount of calories in alcoholic drinks can vary quite a bit, with some light spirits such as gin containing roughly 60 calories per serving. On the other hand a pint of beer can often contain over 200 calories. Consuming several calories can easily add up to the same as a meal.
Beer also contains a lot of fast digesting carbs which can stop fat burning in its tracks. Giving up drinking while losing weight will allow you to maximise your results. But if you can’t do that, at least try to cut down or change to consuming a less calorie dense drink.
One of the most over-looked but crucial factors to losing weight successfully in consistency. For some, if their diet has not seen drastic results in 2 weeks they may think it is not working and stop. But the truth is that progress with weight loss does not happen immediately overnight, just like putting on the weight didn’t. Gaining weight in the first place has often taken many months of consuming more calories than those being burnt. The same is going to apply when trying to lose that weight. Yes the speed can be adjusted by changing your calorie deficit, but it will still take time.
Instead of a super-strict diet, focus on longer term changes to your eating and exercise habit. the first week of a diet will often see a more notable weight loss. During the following weeks, roughly 0.5kg per week is a common target to aim for.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, now is the perfect time to get rid of the lockdown belly and burn some fat. Learning how to lose weight after lockdown does not have to be difficult.
Instead of starting one of them confusing and hard to follow diet plans, focus on on achieving a calorie deficit. This is a simple approach that is less restrictive and easier to achieve results. Consistency is key and keeping track of your process is a great way to really start seeing results. A high intensity workout three times a week keep your metabolism active and increase the amount of calories burnt. Do you have any more tips for burn fat post-lockdown? let us know in the comments below.
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