With the spread of COVID-19, it's a worrying time for people who have worked hard over many years to build their physiques, strength and fitness with the closure of gyms. And let’s be real, on the back of Easter and consuming about 1000 Ferrero Rocher Easter eggs (if you know what we are talking about, you’re the ultimate chocolate connoisseur), it’s sorta stressful.
Here at Ryderwear and PUSHH, we miss the gym a lot, but we are trying to focus on what we can control to maintain the gains. This meant recruiting Accredited Dietician and nutrition guru, Vic Matkovic from Thrive Nutrition to make keeping your physique as easy as possible. Vic has given us two goals to aim for in isolation that will keep you looking and feeling your best.
1. Eating at maintenance calories or in a slight surplus
We know, we have been banging on about this whole ‘maintenance’ thing since Covid-19 took away our happy place, but if the experts are saying it, we have to listen.
So how do you find out your maintenance calories? There are heaps of online calculators to find this out, and Vic recommends Precision Nutrition. Once you find a calculator that suits you, start eating at your calculated maintenance calories or you can eat in a slight surplus by adding 10-20% on top of your already calculated maintenance calories.
SO, these extra calories + exercise will help prevent muscle mass depletion. Make sure that you are keeping exercise within your isolation routine as it's the biggest stimulus for protein synthesis (or building muscle). We know it sounds simple, but making sure that you’re integrating both exercise and nutrition is super important.
To help out with exercise, the PUSHH app has equipment free at home workouts that go hand in hand with maintaining muscle mass. Consider At Home programs by Johnathan Coyle, Jenna Lousie, Maya Basse, Newton from Double Dragon, or any others that are suited to your fitness routine to maximise muscle maintenance.
2. Consume adequate protein intake daily
So now that we have worked out our maintenance or slight surplus calorie intake, our second goal to aim for is protein consumption. Another factor that ties into the point above is consuming adequate daily protein. Vic recommends eating 1.6-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Protein can be easily tracked using a calorie and macronutrient counter app such as MyFitnessPal. The rest of your calories left over from protein can be distributed among carbohydrates and fats.
Protein is needed to provide your body with amino acids, which are used to build and repair muscle. Having a continuous amino acid availability in your body will help prevent the breakdown of muscle.
To have a constant amino acid availability, you can spread out protein intake over the course of the day. This looks like consuming 25-35 grams of high-quality protein 3-6 times throughout the day. High quality protein, such as meat, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, whey protein and tofu are readily absorbed in the body and contain high amounts of leucine. Leucine is a vital branched chain amino acid that increases muscle mass through the regulation of protein synthesis. So make sure that your food consumption is sprinkled with these foods regularly.
The best part is, you don’t have to spend heaps of money to consume good quality protein sources. For a quick breakdown, here’s a couple of lists showing cheap protein sources:
- Chicken & turkey
- Beef, lamb, pork & kangaroo
- White flesh fish & tuna
- Cow’s milk, cottage cheese & yoghurt
- Whey protein (WPC or WPI)
Plant sources (Recommend combining plant foods together to increase protein quality):
- Tofu, tempeh and edamame (high quality protein)
- Beans- kidney, black, cannellini, borlotti, chickpea
- Lentils & split peas
- Vegan meats
- Plant-based proteins
Bodybuilding is a mindset, and isolation certainly will not stop you from doing what you need to do. Focus on strategic and realistic goals with nutrition, so you can be ready to go when those gym doors open again.
Written in conjunction with Victoria Matkovic, Accredited Practising Dietitian at Thrive Nutrition (April 2020)
Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition (2017) Sports Nutrition: Summary of Recommendations and Evidence [online] available by subscription from <https://www.pennutrition.com/KnowledgePathway.aspx?kpid=8180&trcatid=42&trid=8175> [Last accessed 13/04/20]