Are you one of the many that are struggling with social isolation weight gain? We get it. You can’t get to the gym, find you are snacking throughout the day, and might be cracking open that bottle of wine when it’s only Tuesday at 3:00pm?
These are unprecedented times, the likes of which we have not seen in our lifetime. People are losing jobs, struggling with managing work and home-schooling the kids, having either no alone time or too much time alone. Increased stress and unhealthy eating habits make your weight on your scales in your bathroom to continue to rise.
At Koru Nutrition we want to offer some strategies to help navigate healthy eating patterns while you’re stuck at home.
- Intermittent fasting – Intermittent fasting is a great option during social isolation. In essence, intermittent fasting is restricting your eating window during the day. Some folks use a 12 hour window to eat, some stick to an 8 hour window, and some even limit eating to a 4 hour window. Intermittent fasting has been proven to be an effective and healthy way to lose weight. Research shows that it can lower insulin levels and increase growth hormone levels, which assists with fat loss and muscle gain, resulting in weight loss. It also increases the release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Plus, short-term fasting may also increase your metabolic rate by 3.6–14%.
The other great thing is that it can help you save time and money. Most people only eat twice a day while intermittent fasting (a brunch or lunch and dinner), so you will be cooking less often and most likely eating less food.
Ideally you need to fast for 16 hours per day before you will start to see the results. Download a fasting app to your phone can help keep you on track. For more information check out our intermittent fasting article.
- Late night snacking has to go! This is not conducive to intermittent fasting but also doesn’t give your body the time to burn off the extra calories consumed after dinner or late at night. In fact, eating before bed is one of the first strategies we give people that want to gain weight. If you have a typical sleep/wake and work schedule, you’ll want to aim to finish dinner at around 6:00pm and fill up on herbal teas, water or sparkling water after that.
- Drink lots of water. Health Canada recommends 2.7 litres of water per day for women and 3.7 litres per day for men. Water helps to metabolize fat as well help you feel full. Often people mistake themselves as hungry when, in fact, they are thirsty. A mere 5% drop in hydration levels can cause 25-30% loss of energy, which might leave you prone to looking for something sweet to give you an energy burst. Mild dehydration can also cause your metabolism to slow down by 3%.
You can keep a water bottle beside you when reading, watching TV, cooking or while working to help encourage regular drinking.
- Cut out the gluten – refined breads, pastas, baked goods, pizza and the like are void of nutrients and have a tendency to spike blood sugars. When blood sugars surge so too does insulin. Insulin is a hormone which is needed to help push glucose (sugar) from our blood into the cell where it can be used as energy. But if you have too much glucose too quickly to burn as energy, then the insulin will signal your body to package the excess and store it as fat. If you have unstable blood sugar levels you have 3x more difficulty losing weight.
Gluten is also inflammatory. Many individuals notice improvements, not just in weight loss, but in many areas of their health and wellness when they eliminate gluten, including mood, sleep, digestion, energy levels and reductions in pain.
5. Eat Clean Whole Foods – Eating clean whole foods includes fruits, vegetables and sea vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, fish, grass fed meats, eggs, lentils and legumes.
This is the most important step, but often the hardest to do. Whether you are juggling working at home with home-schooling your kids or you’re struggling with your mental health during this period of isolation, it may feel easier to just heat up a frozen pizza than to prepare a well-balanced meal from scratch. But, there are ways to help manage this!
You can save time in in the kitchen and prepare in advance. You may opt to batch cook some one-pot meals like soups or stews. Or you could repurpose foods, for example, making a large chilli one night, then fajitas the next night with the leftovers. If you have one, use your crockpot so you can prep a healthy meal in the morning when you may have higher energy and a delicious meal is waiting for you in the evening.
- Drink Green Tea – There are so many health benefits to drinking green tea. A study published in the Journal of Obesity Research showed that habitual tea drinkers had an average of 19.6 less body fat, and also had slimmer waists, than people who didn’t drink tea regularly. The majority of these tea drinkers chose green tea.
Green tea contains a type of flavonoid called EGCG, which has not only shown to help burn fat and reduce diet-induced obesity, but also help to keep the weight off afterwards (Obesity Research, June 2005). Plus, this is a great way to help increase your water intake! Simple, inexpensive, and delicious!
We understand, these are difficult times. But, by incorporating some of these tips – intermittent fasting, ditching late-night snacking, staying well hydrated, cutting out gluten, eating clean whole foods, and drinking green tea – you’ll help ensure that you aren’t adding the additional challenge of unwanted weight gain to your metaphorical plate.
Stay safe and stay healthy!