Recent evidence has shown that one of the main risk factors for Coronavirus is weight, so there has never been a better reason to get fit and lose some weight. Here are some tips to losing those kilos during this pandemic.
Before I get accused of clickbait, the simple fact is that science doesn't have a clear picture of the COVID-19 disease. It has only been around for a matter of months, and clinical research takes time to collect data, analyse and publish it. But what has been found from the UK, is that while age is the biggest risk factor related to surviving a Coronavirus infection, being overweight may be another big risk factor.
But there are lots of other factors to consider there. The data from China didn't find weight to be such a major factor, but then there are fewer overweight people in China, especially in a city like Wuhan, where most of the data came from. But it is possible that being overweight is not the only risk factor, because obesity is often linked to other conditions, such as diabetes. So we shouldn't take these results as a clear understanding or link, but it is still enough to be motivated to lose weight.
Weight loss and gain during coronavirus
On one hand, during the current pandemic and lockdown rules, we can actually expect people to be gaining, not losing weight. Instead of heading out, people are at home binging on streaming TV and chips.
Stress, isolation and the lack of a fixed schedule because of loss of work or because of a move to working from home, is bad for your health. One big factor is the lack of good healthy sleep, but also not having a routine for eating, exercising and looking after yourself.
One of the reasons were are allowed out of our houses is to exercise. At the same time, being stuck at home means more people are cooking for themselves, which can mean a focus on fresh healthy ingredients.
How to lose weight in a healthy way
It is said that the reason why there are so many diets is because none of them work. Large scale studies have found that the rules for losing weight actually pretty straight forward. In studies comparing diets where calories and exercise were controlled, it made no difference whether people cut out fat, carbs or other sources of calories. As long as people burned more calories than they consumed, they lost weight.
Yes, there can be all sorts of psychological and physical impacts of different diets. A high protein diet could result in fewer hunger pangs, but it is generally recommended that a balanced diet is going to be better for you.
The real trick is not to cut your food intake and try to crash diet. Instead, it is better to reduce your food enough to start shedding kilos. For the average man living a sedentary Netflix lifestyle, they will burn 2000 calories a day. If they do some exercise every day, it will be 2500, and if they are active for the whole day, it will be 3000 calories. Elite athletes can burn through 6000 calories in a single day. Women consume about 80% of this, but remember, there will be a lot of individual differences between people beyond just gender.
So many crash diets try to cut calorie intake by half. So people will be eating 1500 or less calories a day and told to exercise. This can work if you can stick to it, but the body really fights it, prompting intense cravings and food obsessions while your body prepares to store fat the moment you start eating again. It has been shown that losing and gaining weight is worse than not losing weight at all.
Instead, you want to eat less than the energy your body consumes, but not by too much. This will build up healthy eating habits where you lose weight over an extended period of time and keep it off.
One way is to really plan your day. Instead of thinking you have to just not eat, it is better to have a nice plan laid out, where you eat enough each day. Often there should be a period between your last meal and your next when you are hungry, but you shouldn't feel hungry all day.
Our vain society associates being thin with being fit. But heart health is not the same as being skinny. Rather your heart benefits from exercising on a daily basis where your heart rate is increased to a healthy level. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you subtract your age from 220. So a person who is 50 should have a heart rate of around 170 beats per minute when exercising.
Remember, the fitter you are, the more work you have to do to increase your heart rate. Some people are sweating and struggling while walking up the stairs, while a very fit person will have to do a lot more before they start sweating.
With gyms closed, most people are exercising outdoors, which does mean that it is dependent on the weather. But we can easily do long brisk walks around out your suburbs, go for a run if our fitness level matches that, or find a nice bike path for a lazy Sunday cycle. At home, we can easily do a wide range of exercises, with a focus on bodyweight exercise to improve both strength and heart health.
Boosting your immune system
Rather than thinking of diet and exercise as supercharging our bodies natural defences to disease, we should understand the key issue is that with poor diet, fitness and other factors, our bodies normal functions can be suppressed. So eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables every day, exercising, sleeping well and generally being relaxed and happy, we will keep our body in its best condition to fight disease. Nothing we can eat has been magically found to stop Coronavirus.
Image courtesy of Airman Amanda Lovelace @ SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE
This means crash diets are really out because they can starve our body, and if not balanced well, create other health problems. Instead, a healthy calorie-controlled balanced diet with a decent amount of exercise will keep our bodies healthy while losing weight.
If you have health issues, consult your doctor
If you have any health issues, you should consult a medical professional before undertaking any diet or fitness program. Remember, the information provided in this article is general, and not meant for any individual case.
It seems that Coronavirus well get us just by making us gain weight as we live out our baking fantasies during lockdown. But now is a great time to lose weight, get fit, and of course, make sure your body is ready to fight off any potential infections. Forget trendy diets, and avoid the extreme ones. Instead, enjoy a good healthy diet, exercise regularly and be happy.
You made a mistake by saying that you need to work at a heart rate that’s 220 minus your age. That formula gives you your maximum heart rate. You should exercise at 60-80% of that, depending on your fitness level. An easier guide is breathing difficulty. If you can speak a few words between gasps, then you are doing a good workout.