Thank you for sending me your questions for how I can help you during this time. I have plenty of ideas now for what I can write for you – but, if you do have any questions you’d like me to answer for you, please do send them over and I will gladly add them to the list!
The first question I’m going to go through is:
How Should I Food Adjust My Intake For My Newly Reduced Activity Levels?
It’s fairly obvious that less activity means you need less food.
This said, I’m not sure that now is the time to be challenging your body to survive on fresh air, since the stress of the whole situation is not going to be improved by adding further stress to your body.
For ease, let’s say you’re already eating a fairly healthy diet with three good quality meals a day, plus a snack or two a few times a week. Let’s say you’re maintaining your weight with your current approach.
But now, your three workout classes a week have stopped, and you’re only able to get an hours walk with the dog each day.
The first thing you should think about is your overall calorie intake. It is your general day to day activity which uses up the majority of your energy intake – it is almost never the structured exercise you do (although this of course adds to the bigger picture). Whichever way you look at it, your overall calorie expenditure is reduced pretty significantly now.
So, how should we cut some calories from our diets?
It certainly shouldn’t be by reducing our protein intake. We want to maintain our protein intake to encourage our bodies to maintain muscle on our bodies, and also to keep our metabolism as stoked as possible (protein uses more energy during digestion than either carbohydrate or fat).
This said, I would look at reducing the frequency you’re eating fattier cuts of meat. We can save about 100 calories and 10g fat by switching 100g of chicken thighs for 100g chicken breast – and we’ll get the same amount of protein.
I would definitely be looking at cutting the calories you’re eating from carbohydrate. If you’re not being so active, your body simply does not need so much carbohydrate from whatever source.
There is no need to eliminate the carbs from your life, it probably isn’t a good time to do that from a stress point of view anyway, but a cupped palms worth of potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice or quinoa etc in the evening is probably ample.
I’d also be paying more attention to the extra fat you’re adding to your meals. If you’ve been throwing the olive oil over your lunch with wild abandon, I might try to keep that in check for now.
Likewise, if you’ve been snacking on nuts a few times a day, I would be changing those to something lower calorie – perhaps some veggie sticks or a few prawns or something along those lines.
My advice for now is to focus on filling yourself up with fibre rich veggies and lean protein. Add a sensible amount of fat in the forms of oily fish, salad dressings, nuts and seeds, avocados etc – remembering that you do need some fat in your life. Pop a handful of carbohydrates on your plate in the evening, and you should be good to go. Try not to snack outside meals – then just keep your eye on the scales and the fit of your jeans to see whether you’re getting your intake right.
The final thing to bear in mind is how quickly the calories from booze add up. It is easy to find yourself pouring a glass of wine to mark the end of the day, and it is very unfair how quickly the calories add up. Instead, try making a point of separating the week from the weekend with a glass of wine on a Friday and Saturday.
I hope this helps you with some ideas of where to focus your attention on your diet during this time!