During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, I gained weight. Around a stone (or 6kg) if I’m completely honest.
It seems I wasn’t alone in this as one study suggests that 22% of adults reported gaining weight during the pandemic. A number of factors contributed to this, including eating in response to stress, poor sleep, disrupted schedules, and reduced access to facilities like gyms. Being confined to our homes with a lack of activities to keep us busy and distracted also led to unhealthy choices for many people.
For me personally, I suffered a stress fracture in my hip on the day that we went into lockdown which really put a halt on my regular training schedule as I was unable to run or walk. I went from training 8-12 hours a week to being very sedentary. My races were cancelled, so I had didn’t have these goals to work towards. Comfort eating crept back in, as did my alcohol intake while we were in lockdown.
Firstly I think it’s really important to be compassionate and not put pressure on yourself if you have gained weight during lockdown. It’s been an incredibly stressful period of time with many people dealing with grief, health concerns, unemployment, fear and anxiety. Feeling guilt or shame around lockdown weight gain only compounds the issue.
How I lost the lockdown weight gain
By Autumn, I was able to start running without any pain in my hip and felt the time was right to address my nutrition. I wanted to ensure I was fuelling my training correctly, so I decided to enlist the help of a nutritionist, as I wanted someone who had experience of working with athletes and tailoring a plan to an active lifestyle.
Shannon’s nutrition plans are based on the calorie and macronutrient needs of the individual. Macronutrients are the nutrients your body needs in the largest amounts: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. On this plan, you can pretty much eat whatever you like as long as it fits within these calorie and macro goals.
Since I began tracking my food intake in November, I have lost 9-10kg (it does fluctuate), so I actually weigh less than I did before lockdown! The weight loss has had other positive benefits on my performance- I’m running faster than before and my bike power has increased.
I’ve also lost:
-6cm off my chest
-8.5cm off my waist
-7.5cm off my hips
-3.5cm off each thigh
I avoid thinking of this way of eating as a ‘diet’. Instead I focus on eating foods which will fuel my training and help me recover and perform at my best. I’ve suffered from eating disorders in the past so I’m conscious of not restricting my intake. The biggest change I’ve made is increasing my protein intake- Shannon has given me a target of 130-140g protein per day which is quite a jump from how much I was previously consuming.
Tips for following a macro/calorie based plan:
- Track your intake using an app like MyFitnessPal. You can search over 11 million foods in the MyFitnessPal database, as well as scanning the barcode on packaged food to log the nutrition details. It provides you with a breakdown of each individual portion of food that you input into it: highlighting how much fat, protein and carbohydrates are in them and then how many calories you’ve consumed.
- Aim for progress, not perfection. It is difficult to hit your macro goals perfectly every day, particularly when you are first starting out. Planning your meals and snacks in advance, then making adjustments does help, but try not to obsess over balancing the numbers perfectly.
- Eat a diet rich in fresh whole foods, healthy fats, complex carbs and lean protein sources. When following this type of plan, technically it is possible to eat junk food as still lose weight, as long as it fits your macros/calories. But if you are aiming to improve performance and feel satiated, then it’s best to get your nutrients from quality food sources.
- Remember to track alcohol, drinks and oils. It’s easy to forget to track drinks and the oils we use in cooking, but these all contain calories, particularly alcohol!
Post written in collaboration with calculators.org
Have you experienced lockdown weight gain? Have you tried following a calorie/macro based plan?