By Lauren Killey
In a world which has seemingly changed overnight, we are now faced with no gyms, limitations in training and social distancing which has taken a lot of us away from trainers and group classes.
We are able to coach, support and educate in the online space; but adjusting to this ‘new world’ life has resulted in a LOT of questions.
The most common question being asked currently is: ‘should I diet?’
It is a very relevant question. People around the world are being limited to their homes, which means usual training, cardio, steps and general output has been impacted. Because we are moving less, our usual ‘maintenance’ calories – or energy consumed – may drop.
To mitigate this gain of unwanted body fat, should you reduce your calories? Should you maintain what you are already eating?
The answer is; it depends. It depends on your goal, your situation, your accessibility to equipment, your capacity for training and output.
Let’s assume we will be living in this new world situation for the next 3-6 months. Ask yourself, where do you want to be when we return to normality?
What you do with your calories will depend on ONE of THREE goals.
If your goal prior to covid-19 and when the world returns to normal, is your health, your focus should be to maintain!
Your first step will be to determine your new maintenance in your current situation. Start with an average of 10,000 steps a day (walks outside, around the living room, on a treadmill if you have one).
Set your calories at your usual intake. Use a home-workout program, 4-5 days of the week (CHFI will be providing workouts you can use daily!) Track everything you are consuming for 5-7 days.
Track your weight every day. At the end of the week, look at your weight average. Has this increased? You are now is a surplus. Has it stayed the same?
This is your maintenance. Has it decreased? You are in a deficit. Continue this process until your weight is remaining consistent – the calories you are consuming, the average steps and training will ensure you are maintaining.
We then want to consider developing and continuing health habits;
1. 3l of water a day.
2. 7-8 hours of sleep (with an evening sleep ritual to wind down).
3. Setting daily goals for direction and focus.
4. Mentality exercises daily (such as meditation, journaling, writing down
daily wins etc).
5. Calls with loved ones.
If your goal is to drop fat; drop calories. You can continue to prioritise fat loss despite limitations in training and output (and location!).
The key is calories in VS calories out. Ensure you are using more energy than you are consuming. Repeat the process above to determine your current maintenance calories.
Then, adjust your following week calorie goals for conservative or aggressive fat loss – a great place to start is a 250 calorie drop (for very conservative fat loss and LBM maintenance) or a 500 calorie drop daily for a slightly more aggressive approach.
The key consideration with your fat-loss goals, is to maintain lean body mass (muscle) whilst dropping fat. Keep protein UP! Ideally 1.8-2.2g per kg body weight.
Eat nutrient dense foods the majority of the time to continue fuelling your health. Continue resistance training with the aim of muscular fatigue (along with your steps and cardio).
BULKING (muscle building)
It might seem impossible at the moment to build muscle. Usually, when bulking, we think of lifting heavy! Getting into the gym to train hard.
However, you can still stimulate a hypertrophy response (growth) working at a < 60% capacity. Key considerations in your training will be progressive overload, time under tension and mechanical fatigue.
In regard to nutrition, you do not want to be in a deficit. Eating below maintenance will impact your lean mass. Use the above process to determine your maintenance calories and either stay at maintenance or a slight (5%) surplus (with breaks at maintenance or in a slight deficit to mitigate excessive fat gain).
Keep protein at the higher end! And, as usual, prioritise nutrient dense food to ensure your body and muscles are getting the fuel they need to recover and grow.
Tracking is always ideal, but will be very helpful when trying to bulk. We want to track the weights we are lifting, the reps we are performing, our overall volume etc. Every 4-6 weeks we want to change our training systems and every week we want to ensure we are progressing.
This could mean an increase in load lifted, an increase in reps performed, slower tempo week by week to put the muscle under tension longer. You can continue average daily steps and cardio for overall health, but do not need excessive cardio.
Track food to ensure you are eating appropriate calories, and track weight averages to ensure scale-weight does not increase too much. (Aim for the same weight, or a slight increase of 100-250g over a fortnightly basis.)
The key takeaways:
You can still get results and reach your goals, despite the changes in our current world.
Determine who you want to be when normality returns and start the process now to become that person.
Track everything and use this data to help provide daily goals and focus points to reach your goal.
Clean Health Master Coach