Lockdown has affected us all and has changed our lifestyle in numerous ways. Our diet is one of those ways with the added time spent at home meaning that our normal habits and routines can be disrupted. Being home based can lead to more snacking, less exercise and less daily energy expenditure. Highly processed convenience food can also easily become the go to for easy lockdown meals. And these unhealthy habits can ultimately lead to weight gain and a reduction in overall fitness levels.
Getting back to the gym and improving your exercise levels after lockdown is one way of getting back into shape but you can also look to get your diet back into shape to! A diet based around plants and wholefoods and reducing calorie dense and processed food can help to shape a fitter healthier post lockdown you!
A HEALTHY WELL-BALANCED PLANT-BASED DIET!
A whole food plant-based diet (WFPB) is a vegan diet as it doesn’t include food from animal sources. However, there is a difference in that the focus is on the food that you do eat, rather than what you don’t eat. Eating a vegan diet doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a healthy, well-balanced diet as a vegan diet based around processed foods and refined sugars, chips, crisps and sweets can still be unhealthy. In fact, studies showed that plant-based diets are not all created equal and that those that are based around whole grains, fruits and vegetables rather than less healthy plant foods such as refined grains, processed foods, sweetened beverages and sweets are associated with a lower risk of heart disease (Ambika, et al., 2017). The focus on a WFPB diet is on the quality of the food you eat and around developing a diet which is based around a wide range of plant foods which offer the ultimate balance of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals to optimise both health and longevity. That means eating whole plant foods like brown rice, wholegrain bread and flour, wholemeal pasta, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, cutting out the CRAP food and cooking and preparing more meals yourself from scratch. In this way, you take control of the food you eat and move towards a diet which is scientifically proven to be healthier and nutritious.
Basing you diet around whole foods has the added benefit of not only being healthier but also helping you to lose any weight you have put on over lockdown! Plants and whole foods have lower calorie density than processed and refined foods and therefore fill us up more. This means we tend to consume less calories on an WFPB diet as we feel fuller, quicker. As an example, eating 100g of dark chocolate has the equivalent calories of more than ten apples or five bananas! What do you think would fill you up more?
So, changing your diet and basing it around a wide range of colourful fruit vegetables and whole grains, with a focus on “eating the rainbow”, can help you to get back into a fitter, healthier post lockdown shape moving forward!
Author: Philip Woodbridge
Philip Woodbridge is a registered Sports Nutritionist with the SENr (Sports and Exercise Nutrition Register) and specialises in plant-based nutrition through his consultancy P4S Nutrition. Philip is author of a nutrition guide and cookbook Plant-Based 4 Running. http://p4snutrition.co.uk/Plant-Based-4-Running/