The COVID-19 lockdown comes with an entirely new set of challenges. In many cases, these challenges are so severe that they’ve disrupted the daily routine of millions of people around the world.
The COVID-19 lockdown affects physical and mental health and is a major cause of weight gain. Weight gain caused by the lockdown has been christened “Quarantine 15.”
If you’re worried about gaining weight during the pandemic, you’re not alone. Even when you’re in quarantine, there are steps you can take to keep your weight within a healthy range.
This article highlights some causes of quarantine weight gain – as well as effective tips to combat it.
What causes quarantine weight gain?
Many factors contribute to weight gain during the quarantine period. We discuss some of these factors below.
For starters, the financial problems, health concerns, and uncertainty accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic increases our stress levels.
Stress, in turn, causes weight gain.
A study found that chronic stress and high cortisol levels increased food cravings and weight gain (1).
A sedentary lifestyle
Alterations made to your daily routine can also contribute to weight gain. Many people find it difficult to prepare healthy snacks and meals on their own. Also, the lockdown together with working from home may create stress and boredom, resulting in overeating (10, 11).
Also, restrictions have been placed on the use of sports facilities, parks, and gyms due to the pandemic, making it more difficult to maintain a regular workout routine.
And so, the inability to fit physical activity into your daily routine becomes very difficult, making it easy to slip into a sedentary lifestyle.
Tips for losing weight during the quarantine
Below are a few strategies that can help you overcome quarantine weight gain. Some of these strategies may help you maintain your target weight range – both during the lockdown and after it.
What you drink influences your weight as much as what you eat.
Sweet tea, soda, and sports drinks contain a lot of added sugar. What’s more, they are deficient in vital nutrients like minerals and vitamins. These drinks increase your calorie intake as well as your risk of weight gain (12).
On the other hand, drinking clean, freshwater can help you feel full. Of course, this will decrease your calorie intake.
For instance, a study involving 24 obese and overweight adults showed that drinking 500 mL (16.9 ounces) of water before breakfast reduced the number of calories eaten during the meal by 13% (13).
Do some exercise, no matter how little
While you may be unable to hit the gym, there are still other ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.
For instance, you can take a walk around your neighborhood, do some push-ups, or find a home workout routine on the internet.
Examples of exercises that you can do anywhere with minimal or no equipment include yoga, Pilates, aerobics, and high-intensity interval training.
Stock up healthy foods
Eating healthy is easier when your pantry is stocked with nutritious produce such as veggies and fresh fruits.
On the other hand, junk foods like cookies, chips, and cakes may trigger cravings and cause you to overeat.
So, when next you go shopping for groceries, stock up with nutritious foods like, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
Cook at home
Cooking improves the quality of your diet while experimenting with new flavors and foods.
What’s more, preparing your meals at home gives you the chance to control what’s going on your plate, thus making it easy to incorporate more nutritious foods into your daily diet.
A large study involving 11,396 people who ate home-cooked meals found that their diet was of better quality overall (16).
Also, those who ate at least 5 home-cooked meals weekly had their risk of excess weight reduced by 28%, while their risk of excess body fat was reduced by 24% (16).
Create and stick to a routine
The lockdown has made it easy for many to cast aside their daily routine.
But then, creating a schedule and sticking to it can help you to build healthy habits while creating a sense of normalcy.
Set times to sleep and wake up, dressing even if you’re working from home, and taking breaks regularly throughout the day.
Plan your meals for the week and create time for meal prep. Several studies suggest that meal planning improves the quality of one’s diet, increases one’s food variety, and average body weight (17, 18).