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The best way to lose weight safely and protect yourself against coronavirus

2020欧洲杯网站Excess weight and binge dieting can both diminish your immune system. Here's what to do to cut a slimmer, healthier figure in lockdown

The idea that age matters more than a factor like BMI seems to go against the work done on longevity in recent times too.

Should you be aiming to lose weight during lockdown? No pressure – after all, you’re probably already trying to juggle some combination of home-schooling, maintaining a business, keeping older relatives safe and staying sane – but with some experts suggesting that body fat should be considered alongside age when it comes to calculating who’s most at risk from Covid-19, it’s worth at least considering.

Research from Brown University, Rhode Island already suggests that patients with a BMI over 35 are more likely to go into intensive care, and those with a BMI over 30 when combined with a history of heart disease are more likely to need ventilation. Once that occurs, excess weight can also cause other problems – one study reports that it’s slightly more difficult to , while there’s some evidence that excess fatty tissue .

Finally, of course, being excessively overweight can cause other health issues, which nobody wants to deal with when the NHS is already overstretched. 

First things first, though: this isn’t the time for drastic measures. The effects of dieting on the immune system aren’t fully understood – at least one study has suggested that eating less might under some circumstances – but research done found that severe caloric restriction can impact both immunity to, and recovery from illness. That means you shouldn’t aim to cut calories too drastically, but also that you should pay attention to nutrient density, by eating foods that are high in the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients your body needs, rather than ones that just fill you up. 

2020欧洲杯网站It’s also important to note that exercise shouldn’t be your first priority when it comes to fat loss. Though doing your morning PE with Joe Wicks – or an 11am walk, or a handful of squats while you watch Netflix – has a host of benefits from overall health to mental wellbeing, the caloric burn associated with even a hard half-hour of lunges and burpees barely equates to half a dozen biscuits. Though it’s true that you should be mindful of how much you’re moving – stripping out a couple of miles of walk-commuting and shopping from your schedule every day means you’re likely to need fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight – jumping into an intense exercise regime with no training history to lean on might do more harm than good. 

So, what should you be doing? The simple answer is to try to build good habits around food, and break – or at least control – bad ones.

“One solution is to work on your intuitive eating,” says . “When you’re thinking about snacking, stop to ask yourself: 'am I hungry, or am I bored? Has something upset me?' If you’re hungry, have something – otherwise, address the problem, maybe by going for a walk or doing something creative.” Drinking water will help: it’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger, and making sure you’re drinking a minimum of two litres a day will keep your body body hydrated and functioning.

And while you have more time at home, take advantage: “Learning to cook and meal prep can be incredibly mindful,” says . “It bolsters our mental health as we gain the satisfaction of creating something from scratch, and is something that can put a smile on others’ faces.”

Batch cooking, or prepping several storeable portions at once, can be an easy way to avoid the lure of an easy Uber Eats: “Include pulses and beans to aid satiety and digestion,” says Al-Ali. “You should also be eating a minimum of 0.8g of protein per kilo of bodyweight a day, so consider adding extra to meals that don’t include enough – I’ll throw a scoop in my morning porridge, for example.”

2020欧洲杯网站If snacking is an issue, switch the worst of your weekly shop for healthier options – Al-Ali suggests switching milk chocolate for dark chocolate, for instance, which you’re less likely to binge on – and keep biscuits and sugary cereal out of your sightline, so you’re less likely to grab some on a tea run.

And finally, yes, you should reconsider your alcohol intake. “It’s not just that alcohol is full of empty calories,” says Al-Ali. “It contributes to food cravings and acts as a depressant, which are both things you don’t need right now. Try to cut down – maybe by keeping your intake to Friday or Saturday nights, for instance.” 

Everyone’s facing their own combination of challenges in lockdown, and adding to them with a restrictive diet shouldn’t be on anyone’s list of priorities. But at the same time, this could be the ideal moment to assess how you eat, learn new kitchen skills, and master a handful of recipes to replace your current Pret-and-McD’s habit. It could change –and even save – your life. ​