Fit and fine by Kamal Singh: Eating right during the lockdown

With most of us stuck indoors with very little activity, eating to maintain good metabolic health becomes even more important
With low activity levels during the lockdown, it is best to opt for low carb foods to improve your metabolic health(Shutterstock)
With low activity levels during the lockdown, it is best to opt for low carb foods to improve your metabolic health(Shutterstock)
Updated on Apr 19, 2020 12:47 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByKamal Singh CSCS

This is the third column in the series on fitness in times of lock down. Too many of us have been solely focusing on exercises, workout plans etc. Very few seem to be looking at their nutrition needs. I do get asked about nutrition but it is invariably about how to eat to improve immunity! We have forgotten that fitness consists of three parts – exercise/workout, proper nutrition and recovery. Especially in times like these where most of us are stuck indoors with very little activity, eating to maintain good metabolic health and body composition becomes even more important.

Fill up your plate with all kinds of vegetables but avoid cooking in ultra-processed oils (Shutterstock)
Fill up your plate with all kinds of vegetables but avoid cooking in ultra-processed oils (Shutterstock)

As the lockdown was announced, the first items to disappear from the shelves of grocery stores were processed junk food items like instant noodles, biscuits and chocolates. All these items are full of sugar, trans fats and flour – the big three “No-Nos”, if you are interested in avoiding metabolic illnesses like hyper tension, diabetes and high cholesterol. People in the fitness world have been emphasizing the low carb mantra for years now. But somehow we have not been able to get the message through.

Do not diet!

Time has come for us to dump the concept of “dieting” because that implies a short term quick fix. Instead we need to look at life style change. And the number one change you can do to improve your metabolic health is to go low carb. By low carb we mean less than 100 grams of carbs in a day. That would be equal to eating 4 medium apples or 6 rotis in a day. Also would need to avoid desserts, added sugar in tea and coffee. Most people tend to eat up to 300 grams of carbs per day.

Avoid eating desserts and adding sugar to tea and coffee (Shutterstock)
Avoid eating desserts and adding sugar to tea and coffee (Shutterstock)

Eating so many grams of carbs can make one susceptible to all kinds of metabolic illnesses. You would replace all these carbs with protein – lentils, cottage cheese, soya, yoghurt, eggs, mutton, chicken and fish. Fill up your plate with all kinds of vegetables but avoid cooking in ultra-processed oils.

Calories and energy balance

As you can see that I do not list the number of calories you need to take in a day and how much you need to workout to balance the calories consumed. When you go low carb and replace the carbs with protein, you do not need to bother about calories consumed because high protein foods have a very high element of satiety and are very difficult to overeat. Unlike eating hyper palatable foods which are a combination of fat and carbs – ice cream, cakes, pizzas, and Indian mithai which can be eaten by the kilo!

Fasting – A new old Idea

Fasting or going hungry for long periods of time is probably as old as mankind. All cultures, across the world have fasting as part of religious ritual. But we have suddenly discovered that it is a wonderful way to reduce blubber and regain metabolic health. Fasting leads to the body becoming an efficient fat burning machine, by reducing stored glycogen stores and forcing it to burn the stored fat. I usually recommend a 12 hour nightly fast. Stop eating at 8 pm every night. You can eat after 8 am next day. Also stay away from snacking between meals.

Weight goals for leanness

We all like some hard numbers to shoot for. So here goes – ideal weight - for men 5 feet height equals 110 pounds or 50kgs and for women its 100 pounds or 45 kgs. For every inch over 5 feet of height, add 5 pounds or 2.27 kgs. So if a man is 5’10” tall, he should weigh 160 pounds or 72.7 kgs and if a woman is 5’4” tall, she should weigh 120 pounds or 54.5 kgs. Another way to check on unwanted body fat is by making sure your waist is half your height. So if you are 70 inches tall, your waist should never go over 35 inches.

Nutrition tips for health and being lean

•Bring carbs below 100 grams per day

•Eat real food- not processed crap

•Eat more protein

•Do not snack between meals

•Fast between 8 pm and 8am next morning

Now go do it.

Author bio: Kamal Singh is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who has been coaching for 15 years

From HT Brunch, April 19, 2020

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