It would be fair to say that the majority of people during lockdown haven’t learned a new language, an instrument or found inner peace. Instead most have struggled to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle which has led to poor food choices, reduced exercise and ultimately some fat gain.
Whilst you may have had more time on your hands, that doesn’t mean you all of a sudden become a 'Men's Health' cover model from the amazing nutritious healthy food and the 6 workouts per week every online personal trainer is pushing you to do. Instead, you have gone in the opposite direction. A biscuit (packet) here, a bag of crisps there, mixed with the overall lack of movement, all of a sudden means weight gain.
So how can you lose this extra fat? Is it a particular exercise? Do you have to cut out carbs? Or will a secret supplement be the answer? No, no and definitely no.
There is no exercise you can perform that will cause fat loss. Exercise however, does increase your calorie burn by up to 10% of your total calories burned in one day. This obviously isn’t a lot, so there are more important factors to consider to lose fat.
The first is your total calorie consumption i.e. how much food you eat. Your body will have a loose range for maintaining your current weight and composition known as your ‘maintenance calories’. If you under-consume between 200-500 calories from your maintenance calories and everything else stays the same, you will lose weight. *Note I mention weight rather than fat*. Not all of the weight you will loose on the scales will be fat, as a lot will be water (humans are 60-70% water). This is a good reason to not only focus on the number on the scales but to take body measurements or photos as this will give a better representation of fat loss.
I ask my clients to record their steps which is a simple task if you carry a smartphone or better yet have a smart watch. The reason for this is that 20% of your daily calorie burn is from your Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). To put simply, your ‘NEAT’ is the energy used for anything we do that isn’t sleeping, eating or intentional exercise. Examples include walking, standing, fidgeting or doing house work. You may be surprised but by just adding 10% each week to your usual step count can add up to a big calorie burn, even more than an exercise session!
It is more important now than ever to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle you can sustain. Not only do you put yourself at risk of disease if you aren’t in a healthy condition but you are also the role models to the next generation. Taking a small step can make a big difference to your overall health. It doesn’t need to be scary or a dramatic change as you probably won’t stick to it! Focus on small, easy goals which will lead to long-term change, which by the way will keep the fat off!