By Matt Evans published
Did you gain weight while stuck at home over the last year? As we were moving less than ever before – some of us no longer even walking to work or leaving the house beyond basic groceries – and the gyms were closed, it's no surprise many of us put on a few pounds. During times of extreme stress, it's also very common to turn to comfort eating.
However, whether you've gone for comfort foods like burgers and beer rather than lean meat cooked on the best health grills, or smoothies whipped up in the best blenders, or you got out of the habit of fitness, you're not alone. Research from Public Health England, which surveyed 5,000 people, found that frequent lockdown restrictions and disrupted routines led us to put on an average of seven pounds, or half a stone, during lockdown.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies also found that calorie consumption was higher throughout summer 2020, and take-outs peaked at double usual levels over the course of lockdown.
A modern sedentary lifestyle, sitting for too long and not moving enough, is one of the biggest factors for weight gain – especially when paired with a high-calorie diet. If you're not moving enough to burn off the calories you eat, all that energy is going to settle around your middle as fat.
The Journal of Medical Science in Sports and Exercise found "the prevalence of obesity is more strongly related to lower levels of physical activity than higher energy intakes". If you're still wearing your lockdown weight, it's time to get up and move.
How to lose weight you gained over lockdown: Simple tips
- Exercise every day. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat, which means you need to be active. Aim to get the recommended 150 minutes of activity each week – this works out at around 20 minutes a day. Our guide to the best exercises for weight loss can help you get started.
- Incorporate light movement into your day. If you're still working from home, get up and do some very light exercise a few times a day. Walk to the shops, take the stairs instead of an elevator, even just walk around the block during your lunch break. Put the kettle on and do some air squats or push ups while waiting for it to boil.
- Do some resistance training. Whether you go to the gym or use dumbbells at home, building lean muscle mass can help your body burn calories at rest. Our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells can help you get started at home.
- Reduce your calorie consumption. To burn more than you eat, you should probably eat less energy-dense foods. Swapping potato chips soaked and fried in vegetable oil for an apple as a mid-morning snack, for example, is less calories (and will fill you up more with its high fibre content).
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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