Additional menu

Expert panel: How to avoid gaining weight during the pandemic

Written by John Davis

Last updated: March 22, 2021

Avoid gaining weight

If you used to have an active lifestyle and now you spend all your time stuck at home it’s difficult to avoid gaining weight.

The lack of movement and the non-stop access to the fridge and unhealthy snacks are the main causes for the weight gain that you are so eager to avoid.

In this post, you will find solutions to help you keep your current weight and adopt healthy habits. We reached out to 39 fitness and nutrition experts and asked them the following questions:

How to avoid gaining weight while working from home and in quarantine/lockdown? (diet and exercise tips)

We received a variety of answers from the experts below:

Paula Sturm – Radically Nourished

Paula Sturm

We all find ourselves at home a lot more than we did last year. All that working from home, learning from home, and entertaining ourselves at home leaves us susceptible to some undesirable habits creeping in. Add onto this, the stress this situation has created, we are often looking for a bit of comfort to handle it all.

If you’ve found yourself sneaking in the kitchen and grabbing a snack more times than you used to, ordering in delivery more often, drinking a bit more, or ignoring your fitness and sleep you may have found a few extra pounds found their way around your middle.

Here are some tips to get you back on track to creating some new habits.

Create a routine: First things first, a routine is critical to leading a healthy lifestyle and this is probably the first thing that slipped once we were forced to stay at home more. Establish a consistent wake-up time and bedtime to make sure your sleep stays on track.

Next, schedule in workouts or some type of activity daily. Plan out when you will be eating meals and snacks and stick with it. If you find yourself in the pantry looking for something to nosh on outside of your established eating schedule, remind yourself when your next meal/snack is and back away.

This will prevent you from mindless eating when you are just looking for a distraction or comfort.

Make take-out at home: burritos, tacos, pizza, burgers can all be made healthier at home and still offer the same amount of comfort we often seek from these foods. Items we tend to order in are made with low-quality ingredients, inflammatory oils, are low in veggies, and are often higher in fats and simple carbs that aren’t friendly to the waistline.

Make sure to include half of your plate with veggies, use high-quality ingredients, olive oil vs vegetable oil and you’ve instantly up-leveled your at-home take-out.

Use the time at home wisely: Brush up on your cooking skills, seek out new recipes, bring your kids in the kitchen and make prepping dinner a family activity. Since we can’t go out as much use this time to create fun activities at home that will serve you when life gets back to normal.

Make a meal plan: Sit down on Sunday and plan out your meals for the week. Pull out some recipes from recipe books or search online, write them out on a weekly meal planner, and make a grocery list of items needed in a phone app.

Head to the store, stock up, and now you take the stress out of mealtime for the week. This will also lead to less temptation to order delivery when dinner time rolls around and you’re thinking of what to eat.

Dress for work: Even if you work from home, get dressed like you are working. We often lose track of our weight when we are in stretchy clothes. Having to fit into your work pants daily helps keep your fitness top of mind.

Cultivate mindfulness: Mindfulness is a great stress management technique and mindful eating is an excellent way to enjoy your food more and eat less.

Being present in the moment when we are eating helps us digest our food better, lowers stress hormones, and makes us in tune with our hunger and fullness cues so we can monitor portions better.

Sleep: Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep for regulating your appetite. Studies show poor sleep leads to more cravings, especially for sweet foods.

Lisa Young

Lisa Young

Here are some simple habits that can make a difference while working from home. The most important thing is to create long term healthy habits you can sustain.

Create structure. One of the most difficult parts of losing weight is the lack of structure, especially now. So I urge people to create a structure— plan when what and how much you are going to eat and try to stick to it as best as possible.

Watch your food portions. You don’t have to weigh and measure every morsel of food but you want to be aware of how much you are eating. For example, when pouring cereal, many people pour 3 cups into a bowl instead of the recommended 1 cup. And, eat mindfully and pay attention to hunger levels.

Try this: “Scoop out” your cereal with a 1-cup measuring cup (rather than pour it straight into your bowl). We tend to over pour cereal and think we haven’t eaten much so scooping out your portion with a measuring cup helps keep tour portion in check.

Pre-portion your snacks. Pre-portioning snacks in advance or having measuring cups handy works well too. For example, it’s really easy to eat an entire jar of nuts mindlessly. Portioning out a serving and storing it in baggies helps.

Stock up. If you have healthy snacks around, that’s what you will eat. Keep the fridge stocked with berries, baby carrots, and other simple grab and go healthy foods.

Out of sight, out of mind. Keep the cookies and cakes stashed away so that they are less tempting. And try to tune into your internal feelings of hunger too, and eat when hungry.

If you have the urge to eat, ask yourself if you are hungry or bored, and as an RDN counseling weight loss patients, I believe in portion control and making lifestyle changes for healthy weight loss as opposed to rigid diets.

Practicing mindful eating and recognizing internal hunger cues is also key.

Jinan Banna

Jinan Banna

1. Check your food labels. One thing you will want to note is the amount of added sugar contained in your sweet treats while in quarantine. Added sugar in food consumed in excess in the diet may contribute to unexpected weight gain.

Added sugar is found in numerous foods, from bread to sauces to dessert foods to cereals. This is a problem in excess because it contributes extra calories without satisfying you, and you may easily overeat.

You will want to read labels carefully to be sure foods don’t contain a lot of added sugar, and also choose whole foods that do not have sugar added in processing.

Fruit is one such food without added sugar and provides vitamins, minerals, and fiber, so consumption of fruit is recommended.

2. Indulge in foods you enjoy if you wish, but do it mindfully. If you want a piece of pie, have it, but be sure to also eat a meal with the savory offerings and not to make pie your main food.

Be conscious of your portion size when you indulge–if you want more dessert, could you try that piece of pie along with some fruit salad to satisfy you?

3. Focus on nutrient-dense foods. These foods contain high nutrient levels relative to calorie content. These foods are considered a “good deal”, as you’re consuming the nutrients you need while not consuming energy in excess. Thus, you can maintain a healthy weight and get everything you need.

Fruits and vegetables are examples of nutrient-dense foods, as they contain many essential nutrients relative to their caloric content. Other examples are low-fat dairy foods, whole grain bread, and lean meats.

Jennifer Hanes – Dietitian Jenn

Jennifer Hanes

My first recommendation for my clients is to focus on getting IN enough of the good things they should be. What I mean by this is that the focus on eating enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein rather than focusing on what they “can’t have.”

Keep sugary and other splurgy foods out of the house so you have to determine if they are worth the effort to go get them. Most people find that they are not worth going to get them, but will eat them if they’re readily accessible in their pantry.

Second, find ways to be physically active throughout the day. I have one client that sets a timer for 3 10 minute dance breaks throughout her day. Others go out of their way to go up and down their stairs throughout the day.

Alternately, you can plan short walks around the block or look for short 10-15 minute workouts that you can fit in during a break. There are tons of these types of infographics and YouTube videos available for this.

Prioritizing movement throughout the day is a fantastic way to not only avoid weight gain but also help manage some of the stress everyone has been feeling over the past year.

Amanda Webster Health

Amanda Webster

We’re stressed, we’re cooped up and we want what’s easy right now. When it comes to food, you’re going to rely on what you have on hand and if you’re not careful, the boredom is going to trigger mindless eating.

If you have healthy snacks on hand, you’re going to turn to those when cravings or hunger hits. If your pantry is stocked with healthy options, you aren’t going to be as apt to binge or resort to junk food in a pinch.

Great go-to’s are a variety of nuts and seeds (the ingredient should just be nuts!), freeze-dried fruits and veggies, rice cakes, dates, unsweetened applesauce, Kind bars, and skinny popcorn.

Dr. Jennifer Haley

Jennifer Haley

Working from home is a great opportunity to eat real food. It is so quick and easy to saute some wild Alaskan salmon with herbs and grab a few pre-chopped vegetables or leafy greens and throw them in at the end with a bit of water and cover to quickly steam them.

Eating like this rather than that sandwich or grab-and-go processed meal that you brought to the office will ensure that you have sustained energy and focus throughout the day. With the time you save not driving to the office, you have that time to shop and cook healthy meals for yourself – you deserve this.

I also recommend time-restricted eating to allow your body to be metabolically flexible. By closing your eating window to 6-10 hours a day, your body learns to use both fat and sugar as fuel. You will no longer get “Hangry” and it will be super easy to maintain, or even lose, weight.

Rather than exercising for an hour a day, the frequent movement will keep your body lean and enhance your blood flow to deliver those nutrients to your skin, brain, and other organs. When on calls, walk around the house, or go outside if possible.

You are not stuck in an office and have so many opportunities to grow new habits that will further motivate you and improve your energy.

Avoid bringing quick snacks, like cookies and chips, into the house so that you do not get bored and munch on them throughout the day.

Instead, be mindful and enjoy a full meal since you can. You will no longer be around the coffee break room donuts and cakes so use this opportunity to create better habits and improve your health.

Ted Kallmyer – Healthy Eater

Ted Kallmyer

The best way to avoid weight gain while in quarantine is to practice mindfulness concerning what you’re eating and how often you are eating.

Since working from home gives you easy access to your kitchen, it can be easy to grab snacks anytime a craving arises or even to simply eat out of boredom.

I encourage people to use their smartphones as a way to practice mindfulness. You can use one of several great apps to track the food you’re eating to see how it aligns with your body’s unique energy needs.

Since most people are expending less energy while on lockdown, most people are surprised how snacks here or there quickly add up and how easy it is to eat more than your body needs. Awareness is powerful and this one small step can make all the difference during these challenging times.

Mindfulness doesn’t come naturally for most people but must be practiced. Tracking your nutrition is a great way to practice mindfulness when it comes to your eating and will be a useful habit to have even after this pandemic is long over.

Dr. Yelena Deshko – Timeless Health Clinic

Yelena Deshko

With so many of us working from home and our usual activities being suspended, many are finding the quarantine pounds creeping up. To help prevent unwanted weight gain during times of inactivity it is important to adjust caloric intake appropriately.

If you were used to having a moderate activity level pre-lockdown which may have included some combination of structured exercise as well as walking, chances are your caloric needs have dropped significantly.

If you’re serious about tackling an expanding waistline, the first step would be to calculate your average daily caloric needs. This can be done with some degree of accuracy through different online apps.

If you would like to maintain your current weight, you should consume approximately the stipulated number of calories daily. If you’re looking to reduce your current weight, subtract 500 from your maintenance number.

The second step in this plan is to track your daily food intake. This can be done through online apps such as My Fitness Pal. Try logging all your food/drink for a week and see where you fall in the calorie intake spectrum. After a week of tracking, you should have a clear idea if your daily diet is falling in line with your weight goals or if adjustments are necessary.

If you find yourself eating significantly more calories than needed, and therefore gaining weight, a simple start strategy is to reduce your simple carbohydrate intake. To do this, try consuming 2 meals per day consisting of only non-starchy vegetables and protein.

At 1 meal per day you may consume carbohydrates as well as vegetables and protein. It is also important to avoid snacking between meals and all processed carbohydrates and high sugar foods.

To avoid sneaky calories, avoid any sugar laden drinks such as sodas, juices, sweetened tea and coffee drinks, and alcohol.

Summer Yule

Summer Yule

Working from home comes with its own set of challenges. The healthy habits that may have become a regular part of your lifestyle can be thrown off course. When you are working remotely, you have access to your kitchen 24/7 and it can become easy to engage in a lot of mindless snacking throughout the day.

To prevent weight gain, I recommend trying to maintain as many of your previous healthy behaviors as possible. Eat meals and snacks on your regular schedule, and continue to go on daily walks or maintain whatever sort of physical activity you usually do.

If you used to go out to lunch on a daily basis, consider meal prepping healthy lunches on the weekends. That way you’ll have something that is ready to eat on busy workdays.

I also recommend keeping a bottle of water at your home workstation. It’s easy to confuse feelings of thirst for hunger. Staying adequately hydrated may help prevent you from constant grazing.

Also, remember that it’s what you do consistently that counts the most. If you have a bad day, there’s no need to beat yourself up over it. Just jump back in and do the best that you can tomorrow.

Amy Roskelley – Health BeetAmy Roskelley

Whether you are homebound from quarantine, or you work from home, being close to the kitchen can promote weight gain. It doesn’t have to be that way. Two things can help you stick to your weight loss goals, even when you are stuck at home.

Eat foods that promote satiety. It’s been shown, a balance of protein, fat, and carbs not only helps you feel full, but also, keeps you full for several hours. Eggs and toast, or a chicken wrap with avocado are great meals with all three macronutrients.

Avoid purchasing hyper-palatable foods! Even a lack of appetite can’t stop you from digging into a bag of chips or a package of cookies if they are within arm’s reach. However, keeping these highly pleasurable foods out of the house can stop you long enough for the craving to subside.

Alexandra Tran – Schimiggy

Alexandra Tran

I have actually lost 25 pounds during the quarantine!

I implemented the 18/6 fasting diet and continued to eat what I regularly did but in smaller portions. The 18/6 diet requires you to eat within an 8-hour window and only drink liquids beyond that window.

I set alarms on my phone to start and stop eating. It’s really simple to do and doesn’t take away from how I currently eat.

It’s also easier to serve yourself exactly what you need when you cook and eat from home. I also prepared meals that would last across 3-5 days.

This allowed me to eat smaller portions and because I was preparing a majority of my meals, I knew the exact ingredients going into my dishes and used less sugar and salt in my preparation.

I participate in full-body workouts over Zoom. Also, I have an entire gym setup at home and this has helped me stay strong and healthy throughout Quarantine.

I have free workout plans coming up that I’d love to share with my friends, family, and blog audience. Feel free to reach out to me if you want to give it a go! I’ll be sharing it on TIkTok and Instagram.

Alex Davis – Ryan and Alex

Alex Davis

For many, avoiding weight gain during the pandemic has been an uphill battle, especially during the winter months.

Luckily, you can do more for your weight than just exercise by focusing on nutrition. While weight gain or loss is more complicated than simply calories in versus calories out, there’s no better time than now to understand your daily calorie intake.

Utilize free apps like MyFitnessPal to log your meals. Gaining awareness of your calorie consumption — and how it may have changed since the pandemic started — is the best starting point for managing your nutrition.

Based on your exercise levels, gender, age, and height, you can calculate your targeted daily calorie intake with online calculators like this one from the Mayo Clinic

As for the calories and food you do eat, always go for healthy, whole foods — and limit the takeout. If you’re not comfortable going to the grocery store during the pandemic, order through grocery delivery services like Shipt or Amazon Fresh. You may be surprised that even your most local grocer can accommodate curbside pick-up or delivery.

A tremendous benefit from ordering your groceries online is that it removes the temptation of buying junk food as you pass it in the store!

Maru Davila – Flaca Forever

Maru Davila

Quit or reduce sugar.

Constant stress weakens your immune system. Stress may be unavoidable but you can choose to avoid things that aggravate stress such as an unhealthy diet (high sugar, processed foods and carb-loaded diet).

Sugar can exacerbate your feelings of anxiety because they make your blood sugar spike and then drop faster than eating non-high-sugar-foods.

This quick spike and drop causes you to feel anxious and can actually put the body into a stress response, which can increase anxiety.

Morgan Balavage – Splendid Yoga

Morgan Balavage

Work out three times a day for 10-40 min.

Do a cardio dance workout first thing in the morning. YouTube has thousands of options. I’ve been loving Pamela Reif’s channel for her simple but sweat-inducing choreography and excellent playlists.

Go for a walk in nature. Forest baths improve your immunity.

End the day with yoga. Splendid Yoga Online or Beach Yoga Girl have hundreds of videos for absolute beginners and advanced practitioners.

Don’t demonize food. Ask yourself before you eat a meal or a snack, am I feeding my body or my emotions? Allow yourself to eat regardless of the answer, but make the observation.

Eat your biggest meal before 2 pm and don’t eat after sunset.

Katrina Love Senn

Katrina Love Senn

1. Plan your meals in advance

Working from home becomes so much easier with a simple plan for your weekly meals.

A meal plan can help you to avoid mindlessly eating throughout the day, as well as making your weekly grocery shopping and cooking much more enjoyable and effective. The trick is to keep it simple and flexible so that you can easily adapt it if things change.

I advise my clients who ‘work from home’ to break their meal plan into 5 days for Monday – Friday. Then, they allocate 3 main meals and 2 snacks (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner) for each day.

2. Make movement a daily practice

It is important to prioritise moving your body daily in a joyful way. Whether it is a quick morning stretch, walk outside or an online class. Not only will moving regularly keep you feeling healthy, strong and supple, but it also has the added advantage of reducing stress.

Daily movement helps to regulate your nervous system, so you can deal with stress and navigate difficult, challenging situations. Just 10 minutes of movement can make a big difference to how you feel throughout the day.

3. Work with a healing guide

Just know that there will be many setbacks that you will encounter on your weight loss healing journey… So, don’t try to do this alone! Working with a healing guide can help you to stay inspired, committed and motivated to achieving your weight loss goals. Plus, it will make the journey so much more enjoyable!

A healing guide will encourage and support you to grow stronger with each day that goes by. They will also help you to become more conscious of your old patterns so that you can break free of them and lose weight for good!

Gennifer Rose

Gennifer Rose

Long before the Covid pandemic began, for the past few years I’ve been both a stay-at-home parent and work from home professional.

The biggest challenge I’ve faced with gaining weight while working from home is with avoiding the urge to snack throughout the day.

When you have your entire kitchen at your disposal during the workweek, it’s easy to get carried away with indulging in-between meals.

My top tips for eating healthy at home include:

Stick to your pre-planned shopping list at the grocery store and avoid the snack and candy aisle.

Once a week dedicate some time to meal planning and prepping. This way you’ll always have quick and healthy meals available when hunger strikes.

Make sure you’re eating balanced meals with protein, greens, healthy fats, and fiber to avoid blood sugar spikes which lead to cravings for junk food and sweets.

Use your lunch break or after work daylight hours to get some physical exercise. Taking time away from your computer and moving your body is a necessary component to keep weight gain at bay and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

One of the pitfalls of working from home is that it can become too easy to work long excessive hours without even realizing it.

Donna Rose – Nona’s Nutrition Notes

Donna Rose

If you find yourself eating differently during quarantine, try these 5 easy steps to avoid gaining weight:

1. Keep up a routine as much as possible. For instance, set an alarm and get up at the same time each day. This helps keep your internal clock intact and lowers your stress level. Stress during these challenging times increases anxiety that may lead to unnecessary snacking.

2. Try to maintain your usual exercise regimen. For example, if you are no longer able to go to the gym, try to keep up your fitness with a home workout program or just go for a walk. Get up from your computer at least every hour to stretch to re-energize yourself.

3. Be mindful of what you eat. Avoid eating at your computer or standing at the kitchen sink. Make it a point to separate yourself from your workspace for meals.

4. Increase your water intake and stay hydrated. Water helps to curb your appetite. Keep it nearby to satisfy a need to reach for something while working.

5. Lastly, Plan ahead. Making a menu helps to avoid last-minute meal planning, and dodge the temptation to opt for fast food, or reach for quick-to-fix packaged foods that are often high in fat, sugar, and unwanted calories.

Skye Roxburgh – Scarbrough Health

Skye Roxburgh

An often overlooked aspect of weight management is sleep. Interrupted and poor quality sleep negatively impacts health resulting in changes to our blood glucose balance, appetite hormones, and dietary choices making us more prone to weight gain.

During the lockdown, the lack of routine makes it is easy to fall into habits such as staying up later at night and increasing screen time.

Poor sleep quality will increase the hormones that make us feel hungry and simultaneously decrease the hormones that make us feel full after a meal.

It also plays havoc with our ability to balance blood sugar levels. This results in feelings of constant hunger increased snacking bigger portions, and a tendency towards calorie-dense, high glycemic index foods.

During the lockdown, we need to prioritize quality sleep and good sleep hygiene practices.

Avoid stimulant drinks and minimize high glycemic index carbohydrates before bed. Spend time outside during daylight hours to ensure exposure to natural blue light and aid in the production of melatonin.

Make a concerted effort to reduce screen time after dark, and if you have to use screens at night invest in blue screen blockers or change your screen settings.

If you think your sleep might be making you gain weight, try keeping a sleep/diet diary. Log your sleeping hours and habits before sleep, and check for corresponding changes in diet and eating behaviors.

Tyler Sellers – Total Shape

Tyler Sellers

I’ve seen people (some clients included) struggle with keeping their weight the past year, and I understand the frustration — the world is in a challenging situation.

This quarantine has affected our physical and mental health in so many ways, and the lack of face-to-face interaction makes it so easy to let ourselves go.

Planning may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s one thing that has helped me keep my health on track this past year.

It makes me more mindful of my daily diet and activities and helps me avoid impulsive and lazy decisions. And most of all, it encourages me to actually get up and do something when it’s so easy to just lie in bed the entire day.

Effective planning isn’t just about planning, it’s being purposeful about it.

Andrea Marcellus

Andrea Marcellus

1) Don’t graze! Eat on a schedule. Grazing messes up the hormonal conversation between your stomach and your brain that signals hunger and satiety. Make sure to leave at least two hours between meals to keep your metabolism in gear and avoid mindless munching.

2) Wear pants. Nothing helps prevent overeating or unnecessary trips to the fridge between calls like clothes that fit well. Alternate loungewear with your “best self” clothes, which will not only help you stay honest with food portions, but also boost your energy and sense of self.

Extra credit: put away the loungewear entirely for a week or two and dress nicely every day. If you need to, buy a couple pairs of inexpensive jeans in a larger size to help you keep your focus on the goal and feel your best again as fast as possible.

3) Think of workouts in terms of gaining strength and generating energy rather than burning calories.

Consistent short workout bursts each day will yield better results than long, grueling workouts that you may not always feel like doing, and that leave you worn out and famished when you do.

Bansari Acharya – Food Love

Bansari Acharya

One of the best ways to avoid gaining weight while working from home is to stay away from munching on unhealthy snacks.

Especially when you are stressed, it is easy to grab something unhealthy and snack on that.

The best way to avoid this is to not bring any unhealthy snacks home from the grocery store and instead meal plan healthier snacks that you can eat throughout your work day such as nuts, berries, veggies with dips, and dark chocolate.

Tommy Vekhayn

Tommy Vekhayn

A good way to avoid gaining weight while working from home and being in quarantine/lockdown is actually by snacking on celery, broccoli, or carrots! Let’s be honest, during quarantine, we’ve all developed bad eating habits.

I, for one, find myself constantly snacking when at work or watching TV. Well, what if we changed this constant snacking into healthy snacking?

If you buy a bag of baby carrots, broccoli, or celery- not only will it be fairly cheap, but it will be great for your health. A small bag of chips can be up to 400 calories, a whole big bag of baby carrots is less than 140 calories.

Plus, your body will thank you for the powerful vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber vegetables provide.

Elizabeth Girouard – Pure Simple Wellness

Elizabeth Girouard

As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, one of the biggest questions I hear at the moment is “How do I lose the weight I’ve put on during quarantine?” Here are my top five simple tips for losing weight while working from home and in quarantine – without added stress!

  1. Eat for satiety. We tend to overeat when our body is not receiving enough nutrients. When planning all meals and snacks, including protein, healthy fats, and fiber which are digested more slowly. This keeps your blood sugar stable, reduces cravings, and keeps you full longer.
  2. Add, don’t remove. Rather than restricting yourself from certain food groups, add at least one serving of colorful non-starchy vegetables at each meal, such as spinach, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts, until you reach 6-8 servings of vegetables each day. Drink water throughout the day, instead of sugary drinks, to stay hydrated and reduce hunger.
  3. Plan ahead. As Ben Franklin said: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Stock your fridge and pantry with real foods. Then, schedule time to wash and cut your veggies, prepare some staples such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, and/or organic chicken, and pre-portion them before storing in your fridge or freezer.
  4. Get enough sleep. Unfortunately, when you are sleep deprived you crave more unhealthy foods. In addition, lack of sleep messes with your hormones – causing more cortisol and fat storage and more hunger due to high ghrelin and low leptin levels. Make sure you are sleeping 7+ hours as recommended by the CDC.
  5. Ditch the all-or-nothing attitude. If you ‘cheat’ or eat a portion of ‘bad’ food, don’t beat yourself up. Move on and make the next choice a healthy one to fuel your body.

To achieve sustainable weight loss, take baby steps. Once it becomes part of your routine, add another baby step. Don’t be too restrictive or you will be miserable, feel deprived and give up. Eat healthy, whole foods and make mindful indulgences. And, be sure to acknowledge each accomplishment, no matter how small. You’ve got this.

James Halim – MACROS

James Halim

Macros appear to be having a moment so we wanted to help you understand what they are and how this buzzword could help you lead a healthy balanced lifestyle.

When it comes to wellness there is no one size fits all approach, however, the idea of counting macros is more traditionally linked to weight loss because it carves out specific dietary requirements for you to follow.

Macros are short for macronutrients, and within your daily diet, there are x3 providing you with energy and fuel for optimal functioning. Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are what need your attention, and to count macros essentially means to count how many grams of protein, carbs, and fats can be found in each meal.

Keeping track of your macros can help you to make smart and healthy decisions about food, ensuring you stay accountable when it comes to weight-based goals.

This is a much more flexible and sustainable form of dieting because technically there are no cheat foods…it just means you have to readjust your macro allocations should any sweets slide onto your plate with those 3 pm cravings.

It is important, however, to understand which foods are your healthiest options when trying to meet those macro targets.

For example, your body is better off acquiring carbohydrates from rice, grains, and cereals than it is eating pancakes, pizza bases, or white bread. All will allow you to meet your macros targets but the end goal may be detrimental (weight gain), which is not the intention.

Overall, counting macros has been known to help people lose stubborn fat, maintain lean muscle mass, and keep your body satisfied. It’s not a diet that tells you what not to eat, counting macros just make sure you think wisely before fuelling your body.

How to avoid gaining weight while working from home and in quarantine/lockdown? Exercise tips.

Kathryn Alexander

Kathryn Alexander

The quarantine has significantly changed people’s lives, often in ways unexpected. One of those ways is that the decrease in activity as people were forced to work from home resulted in decrease in fitness and increase in weight gain.

The surprising part is how our normal, pre-covid activities of daily living maintained a certain level of fitness, even if those activities didn’t seem difficult. Catching the stairs and hurrying across a few city blocks adds up though, and many people are missing that in their new lockdown routine.

To address this at home, you can take a few steps to add back in fitness. In order from easiest to most involved:

  • drink water throughout the day, so you are up and using the restroom frequently. All steps count, and the hydration is healthy too!
  • make a quick movement routine and stick to it on schedule (pushups, lunges, stretches)
  • buy dumbbells and bands, and establish a more significant lifting routine
  • join an online exercise team such as at TrainHeroic
  • find a new activity such as walking, jogging, hiking or biking

If you add a little bit of creativity and curiosity, you can find a new way to add in healthy exercise!

Bianca Grover Fitness

Bianca Grover

Staying moderately active while working from home can be a challenge but can pay off long term. Here are a few tips to prevent weight gain while in quarantine/lockdown:

1. Sign up for virtual classes through your local gym if they’re offering the option.

2. Get up and walk around the house/apartment every 30 minutes. Try and aim for a minimum of 7,500 steps a day.

3. Get a stability ball and do some low impact cardio, like jumping jacks, or marches in place while watching TV.

4. Squeeze in 30 minutes of bodyweight exercises at the beginning of the end of your workday, every day in order to relax and clear your mind.

5. Go for a 45-minute walk through your neighborhood or a nearby park. If you don’t have 45 minutes all at once, you can split it up in 10-minute bouts. This can apply to workouts as well.

6. Set physical activity reminders on your phone or your wearable fitness technology to remind you to be active. It is easy to get carried away with work.

7. (Not exercise related but very important) Control what kind of foods you snack on. Go for fruit or granola snacks instead of chips and fast-food. Stay hydrated and switch from soda to water.

8. Do your chores. Believe it or not, cleaning your house, doing laundry, and buzzing around the house is a workout and will quickly add up.

9. Hire a personal trainer to help you. You can go for a virtual session or in-person. A personal trainer can help keep you accountable and guide you based on your goals.

Nikki Walter

Nikki Walter

Quarantine for some has been good and for others, extremely difficult.

I think the best thing about the adjustments we have had to make, is the fact the industry has given us every tool possible to be able to workout at home from home gym equipment and gadgets, thousands of apps for nutrition tracking, and zoom and video opportunities to help provide personal motivation.

Not to mention, if you love to cook, and are trying to expand your culinary skills, even though there are healthy options, the temptations of food and alcohol can be hard to monitor.

However, even though we have all of the things we need to be successful, finding the desire to focus with many distractions, or working to stay disciplined can be very challenging, especially if you like to mix things up.

Here are a few tips to keep you on track.

1. You NEED your daily workout, but get distracted around the house.

Parking Garage, Driveway, Garage Challenge: Take 20 Minutes to yourself, step out if you can.

Example: Go to the parking garage and take a jump rope if you have one. If no equipment you can jog, sprint, jump, lung, shuffle

2. You’re just not motivated

  • Call a friend, or go for a social distance workout, or via zoom, facetime etc.
  • Order a new outfit to feel good in, new gear always makes us feel good!
  • Make it a family affair. If you’re a parent, involve the kids. Kids as you know will remind you of something, especially if you promise it to them, they are great at keeping you accountable.
  • Small rewards. Give yourself small rewards for accomplishing daily goals. For me I like to workout in the am before I eat, and I will not eat until im done with my fasted workout. For afternoon workouts, I work to have a cup of tea or an evening Epsom salt bath for relaxation.

3. Rest 15-20 Day allow yourself to rest, train yourself to power nap.
Power napping allows you to reset your system and get a burst of energy, which will increase your alertness.

4. Calm Apps and Meditation

  • Allow yourself to meditate as often as needed.
  • If taking quiet time is hard for you, start small with one day per week for 10-15 minutes

Shannon Adams – Urban Body San Jose

Shannon Adams

Mindfulness is the key ingredient here. Being mindful of your time and boundaries between work and home life.

For example, taking an actual lunch break to sit down and eat. Being home is really a wonderful opportunity to focus on your health and what you’re eating while you’re home is a crucial factor.

Making your own meals and being mindful of what you are eating is an integral role for weight maintenance or loss.

For your workouts, my best advice is to hire a trainer, even if it’s virtual, and honor a “standing weekly appointment”. Bosses don’t cancel!

This will hold you accountable to stop what you are doing and have someone watch you and motivate you to move your body in a way that you simply cannot do yourself.

Don’t think you can get the same results for free on YouTube. You can’t. Invest in your body. It’s worth it for your mental and physical health, especially now.

Lastly, walk outside. Walk a lot. You don’t need to run, but you should walk once or twice a day around the block and walk at a fast pace. That is the recipe for good health and wellness and with good health and wellness, you won’t gain unnecessary weight.

Anthony Treas – STRONG Men Coaching

Anthony Treas

One of the best healthy habits to combat stress is to incorporate some type of physical activity.

Find a physical activity that you enjoy, be it walking, riding a bike, hiking, playing tennis, anything that will get the heart rate up and keep it up for a minimum of 30 to 50 minutes a day.

Good news for people with limited time. Studies have shown that doing 10 minutes of physical activity three different times during the day is the same as doing an activity for 30 minutes straight.

The important thing is to be going hard enough during those ten minutes that you can still have a conversation, but not slow enough where you are not giving any real effort.

Also, if you want to take it a step further, get to know your heart rate. For stress reduction and cardiovascular health, you want to be exercising where your heart rate is between 50%-85% of your maximum heart rate. To find your maximum heart rate, take 220 minus your age.

For a 40-year-old, it would look like this. 220-40=180. Half or 50% of 180 is 90. 85% of 180 is 153. For this person, they will want their heart rate to be between 90-153 beats per minute while exercising for 30 to 50 minutes per day.

Nerissa Zhang – The Bright App

Nerissa Zhang

An excellent way to increase the number of calories you burn each day while in lockdown is to exercise while you’re doing your everyday activities.

Setting aside time for a daily workout is excellent, but while we’re stuck at home, we’re more sedentary than ever so getting in even more movement each day is important if you want to avoid gaining weight.

If you work from home, sit on an exercise ball to work out your core while you sit at your desk. You can also purchase a desk bike or under the desk bike that allows you to pedal while you sit. You can even get in this sort of exercise while you sit around watching Netflix.

Converting activities that are normally sedentary into activities where you’re staying active will be the easiest way to add more exercise to your routine. Keeping your body moving more throughout the day will also give you more energy and help you fight off the lockdown blues.

Jason Hughes – Vegan Liftz

Jason Hughes

My typical exercise routine and diet have changed so much since the quarantine started, but that didn’t mean I ate junk or got lazy with my exercise.

It meant I became more flexible with what I ate as I had to make do of what’s easily accessible to me with all the restrictions in place. It also meant that I had to work out on days I couldn’t go to the gym without needing any equipment that I don’t have at home.

And as this stuck-at-home season progressed, meditation has become a great driver for me too. It calms and empowers my mind and body.

That’s it — if you find yourself gaining weight while on quarantine, try to switch things up and be creative with your activities at home.

And don’t forget to calm your thoughts and clear your head; it might sound woo-ish, but it works!

Joe Johnson –9 To 5 Nutrition

Joe Johnson

The main reason people have started to struggle with their weight when working from home is that they move less.

If you consider what your old commute entailed in terms of movement – even if you drove or got the train to work – there was likely a lot more going on than what you’re doing now.

Walks to and from the car park/train station, then to the office building, up and down the stairs multiple times per day as well as out for lunch may seem insignificant, but all that movement mounts up.

Previously you may have been burning around unconsciously200 calories per day just from moving around.

If you’re working from home and you’ve stopped doing that (and eat the same amount), that could mean1lb of weight gain in 18 days!

So, making a conscious effort to move as well doing your regular exercise (running, gym etc) is really important.

Set an alarm every hour so you remember to get up – walk around the room, up and down the stairs, or around the block a few times – some movement is better than nothing!

Simon Byrne – Bodies By Byrne

Simon Byrne

The main issue with quarantine/lockdown for many is not that you can’t find time to get in a workout (though some are definitely struggling with this) but rather daily activity level has dropped significantly as a result of working from home.

No commutes to work, social occasions, or even general trips out shopping mean that for many, weekly energy expenditure will drop significantly.

Therefore, my main tip to avoid weight gain while working from home is to focus on your energy expenditure throughout the day.

A workout will help but first, you should focus on your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). This means chores around the house, gardening, DIY, daily walks around the block, and everything you can think of to keep your energy expenditure high.

If you eat the same number of calories as when you were leading a more active lifestyle outside of quarantine, you are more likely to gain weight because of the decreased daily energy expenditure.

If, however, you keep this high through NEAT, you’ll be in a much better position to avoid weight gain before even taking into consideration any workouts.

Dr. Chun Tang – Pall Mall Medical

Chun Tang

Since the pandemic began, nearly twelve months ago, I have seen a noticeable increase in the number of patients who are presenting with weight gain.

Reasons for weight gain:

More people are working from home and their activity levels are dramatically decreased as a result. They are no longer commuting and even a walk to the local train station or bus stop helps burn off excess calories.

Many patients have been shielding and have been too fearful to leave the house – even for their allotted daily exercise

Lots of people have turned to food as a form of comfort during these strange times.

What are the risks?

Gaining weight can lead to obesity, putting you at risk for several dangerous and potentially deadly diseases:

You are more at risk of being seriously affected and/or dying of COVID-19. If you are obese you are 74% more likely to end up in the ICU and 48% more likely to die.

You are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes which in turn heightens your risk of developing serious problems with your eyes, heart and nerves.

Being overweight can lead to fatty deposits clogging up your arteries, increasing your chance of heart disease and stroke.

Risk for cancers are increased including bowel cancer and breast cancer.

How to avoid gaining weight while working from home and in quarantine/lockdown?

Eat a balanced diet – fill your diet full of fruit and vegetables, I recommend at least 5 portions of fruit or vegetables per day. Pick foods that contain protein, fibre, and essential fatty acids to give your body everything that it needs.

Burn off as many calories as you are consuming – the key to avoiding weight gain is to keep active and ensure you’re burning off as many calories as you are consuming.

Take a brisk walk on your lunch break, aim for 10,000 steps per day or take up a COVID-19 safe sport such as running or cycling.

Exercise for at least 2.5 hours per week – not only will this keep the weight off, but it’s also great for cardiovascular health.

Eat slowly and deliberately during mealtimes – this will give your body enough time to let you know it’s full. Try not to eat in front of the TV either as this can stop you from realizing how full you are

Avoid snacking on foods that contain empty calories such as biscuits and crisps. It can be so easy to reach for biscuits when working from home so the easiest thing to do is not to have them available in your cupboards.

Drink plenty of water – oftentimes when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually thirsty! Keeping hydrated will help you to read your body’s hunger signals better.

If you’re concerned about any weight gain, please speak to your doctor who will be happy to advise you on small lifestyle changes you can make.

Justine Swenson – JustFit

Justine Swenson

Most days you’ll find yourself doing short mundane tasks, like sweeping the apartment or walking the dog. Turn these short 5-minute tasks into mini workouts.

Energize the movements. Turn on your favorite dance track and jog about whilst sweeping, add in some jumping jacks, and even some fun dance moves.

Incorporating these energizing movements into your daily routine will help to keep your body and mind active, without having to add whole exercise routines to your already busy schedule.

These little bursts of movements will help you to burn off those extra calories and as long as you don’t then consume more calories to compensate, you should start finding yourself in a deficit.

The more you keep this up the more you’ll want to exaggerate these movements and exercises as you will find your motivation increases.

Dorian Johnson – The Bridal Architect

Dorian Johnson

Staying in an energy deficit is what allows weight loss. To avoid gaining weight, at the least you need to stay in an energy balance.

Ways to move toward both would be to improve your sleep quality, increase movement and prioritize macronutrients in your diet along with hydration.

An easy way to increase movement is to do a prompt workout, leaving bands/dumbbells/kettlebells in a visible place and doing 5 or 10 reps every time you pass it.

Rosaria Baretto – Vitality Hub

Rosaria Baretto

My  top tips are:

1. Move every hour on the hour, get Alexa to remind you, listen to your fitness watch, and set some hourly challenges like 500 steps an hour.

2. Don’t buy processed foods in bulk. Don’t buy sharing packs of crisps, chocolate sweets. If the temptation is there, then its likely you’ll give in

3. Stay away from sugary coffees and teas and try plant-based milk instead

4. If your office is now in your kitchen it’s a perfect time to start making homemade wholesome meals for lunch! Try quinoa salads instead of a ham sandwich and homemade soup instead of ready-made meals

5. Schedule 4 x 25-minute workouts a week. Try something new on youtube or an online class

6. Invest some money into a kettlebell and skipping rope! There is so much you can do with those and that’s all you’ll need for a super-duper workout

Helen Ryan – Real World Weightloss

Helen Ryan

Set a timer for 55 minutes. Get up from your desk and move for 5 minutes. Walk around, do push ups, dance, do squats, or planks. Every 2-3 hours increase the time to 10 minutes.

Go for a walk during your breaks or lunch. Just because you’re in your home office doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to take a break. Walking helps clear your head so you can focus better.

Stand during virtual meetings and telephone calls, or even walk outside when talking on the phone. There’s no reason to be chained to your desk.

Take 15-20 minutes in the mornings before you start work for a quick workout. There are plenty of exercise videos on YouTube. You don’t even need equipment. Do something that gets your heart rate up and helps set a good tone for the rest of the day.

Stretch periodically. You don’t always have the most ergonomic setup for your desk at home. Release the tension in your shoulders, back, and neck. Reducing tension and stress helps you avoid mindless snacking.

Get your family involved. If they’re at home too, set times for you to take breaks together and do something physical.

Play outside, go for a family walk, or start a quick game of tag. If you have furbabies, take a moment to play with them. You’ll all benefit from the exercise break.

Sarina Jain – Masala Bhangra Workout

Sarina Jain

Since the lockdown has started back in March of 2020, we fitness people have lost all our classes. I have two kids 2 and 4 and it has definitely been harder to stay in shape when all of the other responsibilities have taken over. BUT what I have been doing that has been working for me is this:

-Intermittent fasting
-weight training with my kids (involving them in my exercise routine even if it has gone from 1 hour to 20 mins a day
-stretching more with the kids
-finding workout videos on youtube for all of us to do
-teaching Masala Bhangra virtually once a week which has saved me

I have had to find different ways and get creative to stay healthy and in shape. Even when I eat salads, I chew as if it’s the best thing I am eating so that my kids will want some and then they love it. :).

When I do a pushup, my 2 year gets on my back so I end up doing 5 instead of 10. But I will do a few rounds.

The same goes for my squats. I will hold my 4-year-old (about 55 pounds) and do 3 sets of 10 squats. They love it and I am getting some of that exercise in.

It’s important to stay mentally sane and maintain a healthy lifestyle with our pandemic situation and that we just have to buckle down and make the small changes for it to happen.

I hope these tips will help you avoid gaining weight. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below.

Also, remember that sharing is caring.


John Davis

John Davis is a Minneapolis-based health and fitness writer with over 7 years of experience researching the science of high performance athletics, long-term health, nutrition, and wellness. As a trained scientist, he digs deep into the medical, nutritional, and epidemiological literature to uncover the keys to healthy living through better nutrition.