The summer days are slowly coming to an end meaning the temperatures are going to drop and the days will get shorter. However, just because Autumn is here does not mean that you need to lose motivation, or your fitness goals! It is still important to maintain your health and fitness even when the baggy clothes are starting to come out. There is no need to panic as there are some pretty simple tips you can incorporate into your lifestyle to achieve and maintain your body weight and muscle mass.
Tips for Maintaining Weight
There are a lot of people that lose weight for the summer holidays – and there is no reason to put this weight back on once the summer is over. Here are some things to try to maintain your weight and reduce the chance of those pounds creeping back on:
- Get in your steps. Exercise doesn’t have to be all out effort all the time. Walking as much as you can or setting a daily step goal will increase overall movement and help you maintain your weight. If you set a step goal it needs to be manageable in your lifestyle, it should be slightly challenging and make you get up and move but not unrealistic. Consistency in hitting the same number of steps every day is better than one day hitting 15,000 and the next 900!
- Keep a food diary. Make a note of all the foods and drinks you consume daily, this can help you to stay accountable for your actions. You do not need to do this every single day but try it a couple of days a week and it will help you see where your calories come from. You need to be thorough when keeping a food diary and make notes of all sauces, oils, butter, drinks, fruits and vegetables - they all have calories!
- Keep exercise structure. Plan your workouts in and keep them at similar times on the same days each week. This makes it easier to keep to the routine and makes it more of a habit. Make sure to wrap up for outdoor activities as the cold weather can be off-putting!
- Try new foods and recipes! Don’t get stuck eating the same 3 meals day in and day out. This can get boring and increases the likelihood of over-eating or binging at a later date. Try out a new recipe once a week to increase food freedom and variety.
- Manage sweet treats and seasonal foods. Enjoy all the new foods the season has to offer but be mindful! There is no need to over-indulge, have a small portion, eat it slow and enjoy it! Those small indulgences can add up so try enjoying in moderation and stay mindful!
- Keep portions under control. A lot of people start to comfort eat and increase portions when it gets colder and darker. Keep your goals in mind and stay portion savvy. Try split all meals into thirds: 1/3rd vegetables or fruit, 1/3rd carbohydrates and 1/3rd protein. Make sure to include healthy fats into your day as well!
Tips to Bulk Effectively with Minimal Fat Gain
Many of us are familiar with the term bulking and have probably tried it in the past. However, as soon as the word bulking is mentioned people often overindulge and gorge in pizza, crisps, and cakes and soon find that they have increased fat rather than muscle and their gains can no longer be seen.
Lean bulking and gaining of muscle mass is very possible and easy to do. This minimises the amount of fat gained during a bulk. The only way to gain any mass is to eat more calories than you expend. It is important to eat enough food to make sure you are in a slight calorie surplus. Make sure you are getting 80-90% of your daily calories from whole foods and reduce saturated fat intake where possible. To make sure you are eating in a calorie surplus you can find calorie calculators online which will take into consideration your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and your total daily energy expenditure.
Ensure you get enough protein in during a lean bulk and all meals contain a protein source. Your muscles need protein to repair and grow. Aim for a protein intake of 1.5 – 2g per kg of body weight.
For example, a 70kg individual should aim to eat 105 – 140g protein every day. (70kg x 1.5g = 105g / 140kg x 2g = 140g).
Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, edamame beans, protein powders, beans, dairy, nuts, seeds, lentils, tofu, tempeh, and eggs.
Furthermore, when trying to lean bulk you can prioritise certain meals to maximise your training. Have a high carbohydrate meal with some protein around 1-4 hours before your training session. Then, for that little extra bit energy have a small carbohydrate snack 1 hour before your session.
Some great carbohydrate snacks include; fresh fruit, dried fruits, fruit juice, bagel and jam, cereal, oat bars, sandwich and sweets.
Try to eat a variety of foods all the time, this makes sure you are getting as many nutrients as possible. All foods are different and have different compounds and nutritional properties, this even comes down to a white onion and a red onion providing different nutrients, so mix it up as much as you can!
Healthy eating doesn’t needs to be boring or hard; you can have all your favourite foods in the right portion sizes. If you are craving a ‘cheat meal’, have it in a smaller portion or google a healthier home cooked version!
How to Bulk up your Meals
Starting a bulk can be confusing, here are some simple tips that will help you increase the calories in your meals;
- Add nuts and seeds to breakfasts. This is so easy and there are so many different types of nuts and seeds out there. Just add 1-2 tablespoons to your breakfasts and smoothies.
- Increase carbohydrates in meals. When making any meal add an extra half a portion of carbohydrates. This will increase your energy levels and calorie intake.
- Have three meals and three snacks a day. This gives you more opportunities to get calories in. Some good snacks include; eggs, dried fruit and nuts, yogurt with fruit and granola, bagel and jam, protein shakes, oats and fruit and cereal.
- Cook with extra virgin olive oil or use it in dressings. This increases the overall calories in meals and allows you to get some good sources of fats into the body.
Easy Bulking Smoothies
Smoothies are a super simple way to get in extra calories and nutrients. Here are three simple bulking smoothies you could try at home.
Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie:
- Add 250ml whole milk, 30g protein powder, 15g peanut butter, 10g maple syrup, 1 medium banana and 3 ice cubes to a blender.
- Blend and enjoy!
Super Berry Smoothie:
- Add 120ml whole milk, 35g full fat Greek style yogurt, 150g frozen raspberries, 40g frozen blueberries, 10g chia seeds, 2g cinnamon, 15g mixed seeds, 7g honey and 3 ice cubes to a blender.
- Blend and enjoy!
Chocolate and Almond Butter Smoothie:
- Add 2 large bananas, 20g chocolate syrup, 20g full fat Greek style yogurt, 15g almond butter, 20g protein powder, 30g frozen kale, 325ml almond milk and 3 ice cubes to a blender.
- Blend and enjoy!
Smoothies are very versatile so mix it up and make your own at home. For a weight gain smoothie add in vegetables/fruit, dairy (milk/yogurt), nuts and seeds, grains (oats) and protein powders.
The transition from summer to winter can be daunting for maintaining weight and muscle mass, but follow some of these simple steps and you will be able to stick to your fitness goals, whilst maintaining health status!