With much of the UK and France back in lockdown again and other parts of the world in a continuous state of flux, the much-touted "second wave" of the global health crisis is in full swing. As we're all heading back inside again, the cold and dark means we're less inclined to exercise outdoors than we were in the summer.
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One of the best ways to avoid lockdown weight gain is by paying close attention to our diets. One study in Italy (opens in new tab) looked at the eating habits and lifestyle changes of people in lockdown from 5th to 24th April, when the world was undergoing lockdowns last time, to try and identify key health trends.
The results were surprisingly positive from a general health perspective. Physical activity, especially bodyweight trending, went up a notch in 38.3% of respondents. Meanwhile, 3.3% of smokers decided to quit smoking.
However, some of the biggest changes were in diet. 15% of respondents turned to farmers or organic, purchasing fruits and vegetables. These changes correlated to the north and centre of Italy, areas with the lowest general BMI values.
BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a quick aggregator of whether you are a healthy weight, using your current height and weight to assign yourself a BMI score. You can check your BMI score here (opens in new tab), with the UK's NHS BMI calculator.
BMI isn't always accurate: for example, a heavily-muscled individual might be very fit, but have an "overweight" BMI score. However, these trends tend to smooth out when a larger sample is taken into account.
Therefore, we can say people in Italy that ate more fruit and vegetables over lockdown are more likely to have a low BMI than those who don't. Going into a second wave of lockdown restrictions, the takeaway here is simple: if you want to keep off the lockdown lbs, eat more fruit and vegetables.
This tracks with recent news that even part-time vegetarians & vegans stay slim as they age. Swapping some meat-based meals for vegetarian alternatives, even a few nights a week, can stave off a variety of health problems in later life.
Replace chips and chocolate in your cupboards with healthy alternatives such as fruits and nuts, grabbing an apple instead of a cookie next time you feel peckish in the afternoon.
If you're worried about access to fresh fruit and vegetables, nutritionist Sarah Ann Macklin recommends buying and freezing vegetables in order to have a ready supply on hand.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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