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Jun 8

How to Lose the ‘Quarantine 15’: Why Nutritionists Don’t Want You to Go On a Fad Diet – Parade

The COVID-19 pandemic completely changed the world last year. Between stay-at-home orders and higher than usual levels of anxiety and depression, many of us are emerging from the haze of the pandemic weighing more than when we went into itand thats understandable.

According to a March 2021 poll by the American Psychological Association, 61% of U.S. adults experienced undesired weight changeseither weight gain or lossduring the pandemic. The poll also found that 42% of adults gained more weight than they intended. Participants reported that they gained an average of 29 pounds (the median amount gained was 15 pounds) and 10% said they gained more than 50 pounds.

As a Registered Dietitian, I feel like many people gained the Quarantine 15 or even more during the pandemic not just because gyms were closed, but truly because their eating habits changed, says Lauren Hubert, MS, RD, registered dietitian and founder of The Sorority Nutritionist. While the beginning of the pandemic brought many people to eat more at home, cook meals from scratch and get outside for socially distanced and pandemic-safe physical activity, the truth is many of these habits and motivation just didnt stick. Now, over a year later, many individuals have gained weight and feel off their routines.

As life starts to get back to normal, it can feel overwhelming to know where to start with a weight loss journey. And while it may be tempting to go on a fad diet to lose the Quarantine 15 quickly (especially if you feel youve gained a lot this past year), its a bad idea for many reasons.

Most fad diets are designed to cause you to drop weight quicklywhich almost inevitably puts us in a position of likely weight re-gain, says Jen Bruning, MS, RDN, LDN, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Thats because we lose a lot of water weight upfront with some diets, and then our bodies kind of freak out and try to conserve resources by dropping our metabolic rate.

Instead, there are many safe and healthy ways to lose (and keep off) any weight you gained during quarantine for good. Here are 8 weight loss tips from nutritionists.

While calorie tracking is not something I want you to depend on forever, it is a known, wildly effective tool for men and women to build awareness around their food choices instead of following fad diets, says Hubert. If you have never sustainably lost weight or find yourself heavier with this pandemic, tracking food even if its out to eat (and estimating it) is a great way to understand a rough idea of your caloric intake and what foods are providing what nutrients to your diet! Research shows that tracking makes you more aware of what you eat leading you to eat less than you would without it alongside giving you the much-needed information on your calories and nutritional intake that is required to understand how to lose weight and body fat.

Enjoying physical activity helps us stick with it. Was there something you really missed doing during quarantine? Did the added downtime help you remember something you enjoyed doing years ago, but havent done lately, like a sport or solo activity? Lots of us feel the desire to really get back out into life, says Bruning. When you can do it safely, consider jumping back into that activity that you used to love.

Related: 20 Best Weight Loss Drinks

It sounds like a simple tip, but youd be surprised how many men and women dont eat enough protein at meals. Protein is crucial for weight loss because as you eat fewer calories than what you burn (what is required for weight loss) you will put your body at risk for losing muscle mass and being hungry, says Hubert. Protein will help you stay fuller for longer at meals due to its satiating effect, leading to a lesser chance of overeating. That coupled with how it has a higher thermic effect of food (aka it burns more calories than carbs and fat to break down) and how beneficial it is at preserving muscle masswhich helps with metabolismwell, protein needs to be your best friend.

According to Hubert, good sources of protein include chicken, turkey, fish like tuna or salmon, steak, soy (edamame or tofu if vegetarian/vegan), eggs, and Greek yogurt.

Many people picked up new cooking and baking skills during the pandemic. Hold on to these new skills and use them to craft healthful meals for you and your family! says Bruning. Home-cooked meals are typically lower in added fat, salt, and sugar than restaurant meals, so keeping up with your home cooking, at least some nights per week, can help achieve a healthy weight. It also helps kids form a healthy relationship with food, increases their self-sufficiency, and reinforces family bonds. Win-win-win.

Related: 13 Reasons Youre Not Losing Weight, According to Experts

Consistent exercise has been shown to lead not just to weight loss but also weight maintenance, says Hubert. Because many people have fitness watches (and if you dontour phones track our steps, too!) it has made it easier to understand how active we are throughout the day. If you work from home, its especially important if you arent seeing weight loss to get more active even if you arent going back to the gym! Aiming for 10,000 steps per day can encourage more physical activity. And even if you dont hit 10,000, even making an effort to be more active can have beneficial effects on your health and weight.

Related: 25 Walking Tips For Weight Loss

Using a tool like MyPlate as a guide, work on crafting meals that are about complex carb, lean protein, and fruits and veggies, says Bruning. This basic balance helps keep us satisfied and ensures we get the nutrients we need to help achieve a healthy weight and stave off chronic disease. Be sure you get plenty of fiber from whole grains, beans and legumes, and of course those fruits and veggies. Drink plenty of water as you ramp up your fiber intake- you wont believe how full you can feel when you get enough fiber, which makes overeating much harder to do.

We all know fruits and veggies are healthy foods, but lets be real! So many men and women forget to eat these nourishing, high fiber, and natural foods when trying to lose weight and instead follow fad diets that promote boxed meal replacements, bars and shakes, says Hubert. Fruits and veggies are packed with vitamins and minerals good for your health, but also contain water and fiber! Fiber helps you stay full and satisfied, making these foods healthy carbohydrates for your weight loss goals.

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When your focus is on your health, truly, and not on weight loss, your body will feel at its best to perform for you. Your energy levels will support your activities, which may end up leading to weight loss, says Bruning. But if it doesnt and you feel strongly about losing your Quarantine 15, try working with a registered dietitian nutritionist on healthy ways to return to your pre-pandemic weight.

Next up, heres everything you should know about unexplained weight gain.

See more here:
How to Lose the 'Quarantine 15': Why Nutritionists Don't Want You to Go On a Fad Diet - Parade

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