How not to gain weight and stay fit in lockdown

How important is breakfast? Are supplements good for our body? How does one remain fit and healthy during COVID-19 lockdown? These are some of the common questions that are raised every time one engages in conversations regarding food and fitness. Nutritionist and lifestyle educator, Karishma Chawla answers these and several other queries. Excerpts from the interview:

How to avoid gaining weight during lockdown?

Most important thing is the intent and commitment towards your health. A lot of people say they’ll workout when the gyms reopen, when they can easily do a few things by themselves at home. You can get yourself an accountability partner. It can be anyone in the house who can help you stay committed towards your goals. To the ones who are stuck at home with their laptops in front of them, I would advise them to get up every two hours.

Just jog for a while, move up and down the stairs, do anything which can ensure that your body is engaged in some sort of movement. If you spread it through the day, you are bound to feel healthier and happier.

How big a role does diet play in staying healthy and fit?

Food is our medicine. I have realised people search for a quick fix instead of focusing on their diet on a consistent basis. However, ever since the outbreak of the pandemic there has been a shift in the mindset of the people as they want their immune system to work better. We often load our stomach with sugar and processed food, which affects our gut health leading to a weaker immune system.

People are often alarmed about their blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels after the numbers skyrocket. They don’t realise that it is the food they have consumed, the lifestyle they have chosen for themselves which has deteriorated their health. 70-80% of our immune system lies in our gut, so the biggest way we can improve our immunity is by consuming gut-friendly food.

Your gut bacteria is an organ by itself. It weighs around five pounds and plays a major role in the overall development of the human body. In fact, 90% of the serotonin, the feel-good hormone, is also produced in the gut. This means that the gut has implications beyond just digestion. It affects your mood, metabolism, immunity and cravings too. So, I would definitely say that food has a deeper impact on us than what we actually think and believe.

What are the food items one should consume to keep the gut helthy

Cut down simple carbs, increase complex carbs in your diet. Your gut bacteria requires fibre to function properly. Processed food is low on fibre. Most health problems arise because of constipation as the food we are consuming nowadays does not have the required amount of fibre. Include onion, garlic, and artichoke in your diet. You should consume fermented vegetables as well. Increase the intake of probiotics as they will keep your gut healthy in the longer run.

You can also have a spoonful of coconut oil, add some turmeric and black pepper to it for better absorption, it will keep your gut health in check and reduce inflammation.

How not to gain weight and stay fit in lockdown

Are supplements necessary to stay fit and are they good for our body?

Supplements are anything which actually aid our food plan. People come to me and ask if I would recommend protein supplements and I always tell them that I would only if it aids your food plan, if it doesn’t then you simply don’t need it.

The point is that people seldom fail to differentiate between steroids and protein supplements. What you need to do is consult an expert instead of making a food plan on the basis of a few Google searches. If you take an external supplement in an incorrect manner then your body is going to reject it. It needs to fit in your system progressively. Most importantly, you need to understand what your body actually needs and then decide what supplements you need to take.

The RDA to have Vitamin C is around 30 mg, but if you look at it as a functional medicine approach, which uses food to prevent, treat and manage diseases, then we realise that 1000mg of Vitamin C is required for the human body. Now 1 orange has 30 mg of Vitamin C, so it is practically impossible to fulfil the required amount.

Moreover, consuming a lot of orange juice wouldn’t help either as your sugar intake will increase dramatically. I would rather go for a supplement instead of taking medicines for everything. If you have high cholesterol, instead of accepting your fate and taking pills, have red rice yeast, increase Omega-3 intake. If the situation doesn’t get better, then you need to go for medicines.

How important is breakfast and what not to eat early in the morning?

Breakfast helps in stabilising blood sugar levels. If you skip your meal in the morning, your body starts breaking down muscles for energy. It leads to muscle loss, you start aging faster and innumerable health problems arise. You need to have breakfast within 30-40 minutes after waking up in the morning. People need to avoid consuming caffeine in the morning as it has drastic repercussions on your overall health.

How not to gain weight and stay fit in lockdown

What alternatives you would like to suggest to the ones who cannot start their day without a cup of tea or coffee?

Start your day with a vegetable smoothie, it hardly takes five minutes to prepare. Take the greens you like, dilute with water, add a simple liver detox fruit like an apple, add flax seeds and your perfect energizer is ready.

Any diet tips for people with diabetes?

There are three simple and effective tips: Eat every two to three hours, ensure you intake the right amount of protein and most importantly, understand the intensity of diabetes.

Instead of settling for moderate to borderline sugar levels, work on getting it better constantly. Since we know that food is information and medicine to the body, we can do wonders to heal it.

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