Feel like lockdown has sent you into a rut of unhealthy eating habits and spiraling weight gain? You’re not alone. Many Americans have put on weight since the start of lockdown — it’s even jokingly being referred to as the ‘Quarantine 15’.
From moving less while stuck at home, to feeling anxious and stressed about the ‘new normal’, there are a myriad of potential culprits for lockdown weight gain. But the truth is, we’re all prone to reaching for the cookie jar — or pouring one too many glasses — during times of uncertainty.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself. We’re all in this together — and losing your lockdown weight gain doesn’t need to be stressful or difficult.
Lose lockdown weight gain with 16:8 intermittent fasting
This routine is called 16:8 intermittent fasting. Simply put, it involves limiting your eating to a window of 8 hours per day and fasting for the other 16. As you’ll typically be asleep for 7–9 of those 16 hours, it’s much easier than it may seem at first glance.
Bear in mind that while we’ve labelled the first meal of the day as ‘breakfast’, it doesn’t have to be in the morning. Breakfast quite literally means ‘breaking the fast’ — ie, it’s the first meal of the day — and can be eaten at any time. When 16:8 fasting, most people prefer to hold off breakfast until 11 am–1 pm, as this allows time within the window to eat an evening meal with friends or family.
However, you can plan the 8-hour window around your individual routine and circumstances. For example, you could:
- Have breakfast before work at 8 am, followed by another meal before 4 pm
- Have breakfast at 11 am, followed by a meal before 6 pm
- Have breakfast at 1 pm, followed by a meal before 9 pm
Keeping lockdown weight loss simple
If you’re looking for a simple-to-follow lockdown weight loss routine, here’s what we’d suggest:
11 am ‘breakfast’: Enjoy a nutritious, filling glass of Purition or whip up some eggs. If you opt for eggs, try to keep it low-carb if you can — for example, eggs with bacon, eggs with salmon or a spinach omelette.
Snacks: If you do feel ravenous in between meals, pick a healthy snack. We usually go for a handful of nuts, but carrot or celery sticks dipped into hummus, or sliced apple with natural peanut butter, are good options too. If you’re really struggling with hunger, Purition can help to curb your cravings — mix 2 scoops into 2 tablespoons of greek yogurt for a filling pick-me-up.
6 pm ‘dinner’: Cook a full, healthy meal. We’d recommend choosing something which is low-carb and packed with veg, but don’t over-restrict yourself. Feeling stuck? Check out our favorite low-carb menu ideas for some inspiration!
Drinks: Sip on tea, coffee and plenty of water throughout the day — including outside of the eating window. We’d advise cutting back on the booze to reap the full benefits of intermittent fasting. If you absolutely must, a small glass of red wine once or twice a week.
6 days per week: Follow this plan for 6 days of every week to help lose that lockdown weight gain. On the 7th day, eat as normal, without restricting yourself to the 8-hour window. While it’s fine to enjoy some of your favorite treats and meals, don’t go overboard and treat it as a cheat day. It’s all about balance!
How does intermittent fasting work?
Intermittent fasting has been found to be an efficient way of losing weight. This happens because:
- Restricting eating to a smaller time window can naturally help to decrease your calorie intake
- During a fast, the body burns off stored energy and excess body fat
- It increases levels of the hormone norepinephrine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that can boost metabolism and therefore increase calorie burning
Intermittent fasting has other benefits, too. Whether you lead a busy lifestyle or simply hate cooking, switching to two meals per day can help you to cut down your kitchen time. Plus, time spent cooking will be at an all-time low if you make one of your meals a glass of Purition!
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Ending the lockdown rut: Quick tips
Feeling nervous about getting out of your quarantine rut or kickstarting your lockdown weight loss routine? Our quick tips will help you to get the ball rolling, stay on track and maximize results:
Ease in gradually
Whether you choose to follow an IF routine or have other ideas in mind, it’s a good idea to take things slowly. Small changes feel more manageable — and you’re far more likely to stick with them over the long run.
Maybe 6 full days of 16:8 fasting feels too much? Well, start by doing it every other day, or even just a couple of days per week. Once you’re happy at that level, bump up the days slowly until you reach 6. This method will help you to ease in stress-free.
Focus on real food
While intermittent fasting focuses primarily on when you eat, it’s also important to consider what you eat. Packing your calories into a shorter time frame typically leads to lower calorie consumption overall. This makes it extra important to make sure you’re nourishing your body with the right food and nutrients.
We’d recommend focusing on real food. Try to cut down on processed foods — think chips, candy and cookies, ready meals, processed meats and baked goods — as much as you can. Instead, focus on consuming plenty of real, whole foods. Vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats will keep you full well into your fast and ensure your body can function at its best.
Up your hydration
Hungry… or just thirsty? As the same part of the brain regulates both appetite and thirst, wires can get crossed. This might tempt you towards the snack drawer, when you really need to head straight to the tap.
So, before you reach for a snack during your eating window, think ‘thirst first’. Drink a glass of water, tea or herbal tea and see if you still feel hungry after 10 minutes. If the hunger has gone, you were probably just a little dehydrated.
In general, aim to drink at least two litres of water per day. Not a big fan of plain water? Add a few ice cubes, along with a slice of lemon or lime. It can be helpful to buy a litre-sized water bottle and ensure you refill it by early afternoon each day.
Get some rest
Has lockdown well and truly mucked up your sleeping pattern? Whether it’s due to a lack of routine or an increase in anxiety, you’re not alone on this one either. But sleep plays a huge role in your mental and physical health, so it’s time to get back on track. Most of us need around 8 hours to function at our best, but you might need slightly less or slightly more.
Even if you’re not back at work yet, try to go to sleep and wake up at consistent times every day. It might be hard to get back into the groove at first, but your body will soon find its natural rhythm. Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening and try to put your phone or laptop down at least an hour before bed.