If you gained weight while you quarantined, you’re not alone.
When you drop those pounds, we suggest you look for a way of eating and moving that you can maintain, so you can stay slim for years to come. Were you glued to your computer in your bedroom, sliding from one Zoom meeting to the next? Did you lose sleep and stay up late binge watching TV with a box of donuts?
WebMD reports that 47 percent of the women and 22 percent of the men in a survey of more than a 1,000 readers said they’d gained weight because of their Covid-19 routine. Dropping pounds takes some willpower. The real trick is finding an approach that cuts your appetite, provides plenty of nutrition, and feels normal and satisfying to you. Conquer sugar cravings.
Count calories (or Learn Portions). People who count calories tend to have an easier time keeping weight off over time, some research shows. You’ll pinpoint your danger foods. But at least as important, you’ll understand the portions you can consume without gaining. The portions Americans deem normal aren’t–they produce obesity.
Get more than 7 hours of restful sleep. People eat less healthily when they’re tired. In a study of 245 middle-aged women who were either overweight or obese, sleeping more than seven hours a night and reporting good sleep quality increased the chance of meeting weight loss goals after six months by a third. If you weren’t sleeping well or enough at six months, you had a 28 percent lower chance of continuing to lose weight over the next year. Cut back on carbs. Low-carb beats low-fat diets, researchers find. But as with all food advice, the best diet is the one that you’ll stick with and makes you feel good. Bodies vary. This is another version of the no-sugar rule. You’re cutting out sugar and starches—that includes potatoes, bread, and rice. You might try cauliflower or less ripe bananas when you crave a starch. In the strict “Atkins” approach, created by cardiologist Robert Atkins in the early 1970s, you’ll eat less than 20 percent of your total calories in carbs and cut out even fruit and whole grains. Cutting carbs should cut your hunger and lower your insulin levels.
You might also lose extra salt and water, losing bloat that made you feel fatter. Just don’t load up on saturated fat, since that’s unhealthy in the long run. Or go for low-carb, low-fat, and high protein. The “South Beach Diet,” created in the mid-1990s by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, begins by cutting both carbs and fat and loading you with protein. Meals should include a protein, a healthful fat like avocado, and low-carb vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and kale. You can eat as much of those vegetables as you like. On a salad, you’ll use avocado and olive oil dressings, and add nuts, tofu, chicken, salmon, tuna, sardines or egg. Protein can cut hunger if you eat more than you’re used to, but some research suggests that the effect will wear off within a month. Over time you might add in more carbs like oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes and fruit.
Just remember that the fruit may make you start craving sweets. Stick with whole fruit rather than juices. If you must have a smoothie, try blueberries and banana with kale and peanut butter or a protein powder. Experiment with avocado and protein powder in a fruit smoothie along with another vegetable.