I was going to do a video on this topic but as I started writing notes on it, I thought there’s no way with my camera skills that I could get all of this across to you and justify the importance of it all right now. It’s time we had an honest conversation about nutrition and the effect on our immune system, but I may go off on a tangent a little.
With the current Coronavirus situation advancing so quickly, I have found my views and opinions also changing equally rapidly. A few weeks ago the idea of a lockdown was ludicrous to me, now it’s absolutely the right thing to do. When the gym closed, I thought let’s do some outdoor bootcamps, but again my view quickly changed on that. I also thought this situation would create an opportunity for both myself and our clients to train harder and get seriously lean, every cloud has a silver lining and all that. This blog is mainly about why even my view on this has changed, and why we need to refocus on what’s most important right now.
THE EFFECT OF NUTRIENT INTAKE ON OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
We tend to underestimate just how much our food intake can affect our ability to fight viruses and disease. The main focus is always around reducing fat, gaining muscle, and avoiding issues such as Type II diabetes. People seem to think we either regularly get sick or we don’t, it’s just luck, when how we look after ourselves is the biggest factor.
Overnutrition (overeating) can of course have terrible consequences on our health, we talk about this regularly. But we also need to think about undernutrition at this time, too. Are we getting enough vitamins, minerals and calories in to keep us fighting fit? Vitamins A, C, E, B6 & folic acid; along with zinc, selenium, iron and copper, have huge roles to play in our immune system and its response to infection and disease. Now with the changing circumstances, and it looking likely that most of us are going to get this at one point or another, we need to make sure our immune system is fully functioning and ready to fight this thing.
A COACHES ROLE AT THIS TIME
As I said before, this is about us being honest on where we’re at. We would love to serve our egos at this time and say we’ve switched all our clients to online training and still have people losing 6kg in a month. That would look great on us, as you can imagine. BUT NOW IS NOT A TIME FOR EGOS, NOT FOR US OR FOR YOU. It’s our responsibility to help you to cut through the crap, and give you quality, honest guidance and help you get through this.
When this is all over and we get back to the gym, I’m not going to be worried about how much I can bench press, or how I look in my swim shorts in the summer. What I really care about is staying fit, eating well and keeping my mind healthy. If losing a little bit of fat is a by-product of doing that, then great. What we really need to focus on right now are 4 things;
- Keep activity levels high to improve our respiratory system
- Eating quality, nutrient-dense foods to keep our immune system healthy
- Get good quality sleep to help relieve stress and recover
- Concentrate on our mental health as we face disruption and uncertainty
If we do focus on all 4, then chances are we get through this both physically and mentally in good condition. Doing all of this in a slight calorie deficit can still bring a little bit of fat loss, but going into an aggressive calorie deficit now would be irresponsible and detrimental to our health. We have been discussing balance in our videos a lot, 80% quality fresh food will give you a little leeway when it comes to treating yourself.
We as personal trainers and coaches have a duty to our clients to help to see them through this stage of life as we see fit. We are in the health & fitness industry, but for some it’s easy to forget the health aspect as we chase results in fitness, fat loss and strength. Now is a time to drop the ego, and concentrate on what’s important, OUR HEALTH.
Personally, I’m not taking anything for granted. Yes, this is having a bigger impact on the older generation and people with underlying health issues and respiratory problems. I’m young, fit and have no underlying health issues, but now more than ever is not a time to be taking chances. I’m making sure I get a good balance of food in my diet, train well, and doing everything I can to keep my mind positive and sharp, so I’m ready to beat the crap out of this thing if/when I do get it.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP YOURSELF?
This part is pretty simple as I’ve discussed most of it throughout:
- Health first, ego second
- Move even more. Being at home is not an excuse to move less
- Get a good balance of food in your diet, with foods rich in the nutrients discussed above
- The above isn’t a reason to over-indulge!
- If fat loss is still your goal, keep the calorie deficit fairly small and the food fresh & nutrient-dense
- Keep routine as much as you can, the human brain without routine can be dangerous
- Take time out to unwind, it’s a stressful time. Breathing techniques and meditation/yoga are great
- Stay part of a community. Social interaction is so important when we can’t get out of the house, keep talking to loved ones, and keep getting fresh air! At GWD, we have a great community with great people, lean on us when you need help.