Most of our patients contact us and ask what they could do in order to control their weight during the lock-down situation, when physical activity is restricted, especially those that are working from home and tempted towards the fridge often.
It is worth mentioning that we should not address weight loss through the scale alone, as that is not a good indicator for body composition. Doing an analysis rather for fat loss is more accurate, but we will talk about that later.
It must be observed, “holiday seasons” are a time when socializing is frequent, and we put aside our good habits. Most of us during lockdown, were not on holiday nor attending our favorite restaurant, however might have said is just a day off…. But at the end of lockdown it was more than just one day off.
This is not something new, according to research there is a clear evidence in the increase of weight by more than 500%, when a person goes on holiday.(1)
Reaching to this point, you may just think that this increase of weight (or fat gain) is just temporary and shall be reduced when you go back to your “normal life”.
Well then, sorry to say, there is also research highlighting that the fat-mass gained during a period of “holiday” shall be difficult to shed off, and it is the key point to weight gain in a slow manner over years as people age.
People living in Dubai, during lock-down, have been working from home. We can expect calorie intake to be high along with limited movement or limited activity. Which is very similar to “Holiday time”. This blog, aims to propose some strategies in order to avoid weight gain during this situation.
It is true, we need to build Self-Control and Motivation to monitor our weight consistently, as we often have less control in what we eat. Most of the patients we encounter are emotional eaters.
So if we put together all these facts together, our actual environment doesn’t really help us to maintain or improve our body weight!
What can we do in order to improve our Body Composition during this lock-down?
First, we would like to clarify a myth about body composition:
- Traditionally, healthy weight was defined as one where there is no risk for the person’s health. To determine this, we would use the Body Mass Index (BMI) as a fast and simple way to calculate if a person has a normal, low or high weight in relation to their height. One of the drawbacks is that BMI does not calculate what are the percentages of fat mass, muscle mass, bone mass, fluid or residual tissue.
However today, we can find measuring devices that allow us to know our weight, BMI and our Body Composition, such as bio impedance, or scales as Inbody, Omron, Tanita, etc. In general we can say, that in optimum health conditions:
- Muscle mass should represent 40% of our weight
- Bone mass 14%
- Fat mass 20% (it could be higher in women).
Therefore, in obese cases, fat mass is very high, while muscle mass is low, and it could reach a point of sarcopenia (lack of strength and muscular tissue degeneration). On the other side, a person with malnutrition can have both a reduction in fat and muscle mass.
Obesity, malnutrition and under nutrition are all health-risk conditions. It must be stated strongly that a person’s nutritional and energy requirements depend on their body composition, and not just weight, size, age, sex and physical activity.
Here is our advice to improve your Body Composition:(2)
- Eat real food and avoid processed food.
- Half of your plate should be carbohydrates, such as vegetables, fruits and pasta, rice, potatoes specially on days when you are more physically active.
- Protein is a very important macro nutrient and should be about 30 to 35% of your plate. Meats, eggs, white fish and vegetable options (green peas, legumes) will satisfy one’s appetite and make you feel full. If you pursue regular weight training, protein consumption per day should be around 2g/kg of your weight. In these circumstances, protein supplements (such as protein shakes, oat porridge with yogurt) is advisable if one cannot reach their daily requirements.
- Healthy fats should constitute around 15% of your plate. Good examples are extra virgin olive oil, salmon, avocado.
- In addition to that, training should not be forgotten. None of the above will work to improve Body Composition if a training routine is not included. It is preferable to prioritizing strength exercises. If one is unaware, YouTube has many quality channels with exercise routines using own body weight, without additional materials require. This shall help until gyms and personal trainers return. Otherwise contact us and we will set up an exercise program for you.
- We should not forget about Stress. There are innumerable strategies on apps, to control stress via meditation, breathing techniques, along with good rest and quality sleep which is essential.
Please note that all of this is general recommendation for the population as a guide, but all treatments and guidelines must be individualized according to one’s personal needs. Our priority is individualization being the key for successful results.
Elena Naranjo, Physiotherapist & Nutrition Coach at DHTC