Losing Weight When You Aren’t Feeling Great
Illness has been on a lot of people’s minds these days. While you’re hopefully taking the necessary precautions to avoid getting sick in the first place, you may also be wondering about what will happen to your health and fitness goals should you end up catching something.
Will you still be able to exercise? Is dieting a good idea? Let’s explore what science has to say about these topics.
Exercising While Sick
When you’re sick, your body is focusing the vast majority of its energy on healing. This means that during the course of your illness, any exercise that you do will have less than optimal results. If you’re really dedicated to your fitness goals, you may be tempted to push through your symptoms and continue to work out.
However, you should keep in mind that much of the energy you spend exercising may be wasted, as it won’t be achieving the results you’re used to. If you do decide to get in some exercise while under the weather, there are a few important points to remember.
According to fitness experts, the first thing that you should do when you’re sick is stay away from fitness facilities. With so many people using the same equipment, gyms and other workout spots are breeding grounds for germs.
Even when the equipment is cleaned properly, many viruses can remain of surfaces for as long as three days. When you’re under the weather, you could easily pick up new germs that will make your illness worse. In addition, you are very likely to pass your sickness on to someone else.
If you want to work out while sick, do so at home and don’t do anything too strenuous. Engaging in light exercise might actually help you feel a little bit better while your body works to heal you. Exercise releases serotonin: the feel-good chemical produced in your brain that is often linked to happiness and contentment. By using exercise to encourage your brain to give you a serotonin boost, you may find your symptoms a little bit easier to manage.
Exercise and Your Immune System
The type of exercise that you do also matters. According to doctors, one of the main reasons that exercise is good for your immune system is that vigorous movement promotes healthy circulation. Good circulation allows the immune fighting antibodies in your blood to move through your body quickly and efficiently, speeding up your recovery process.
This suggests that performing light cardiovascular exercise is ideal for boosting your immune system while sick. Cardio that makes you breathe slightly more heavily than usual can also be good for clearing up congestion in your nose and lungs.
Experts in exercise science have found that engaging in cardiovascular exercises such as running are not likely to wear you out and prolong your illness. Their studies show that people who run while sick don’t stay sick any longer than those that spend their time resting while sick. However, more intense training that drains the body of energy can make you more susceptible to infections.
Dieting While Sick
You may have heard the old adage, “feed a cold and starve a fever.” Is there any truth to this folksy wisdom? One study concluded that there could be some benefit to eating more while suffering from a cold but restricting calories when you have a fever. However, most experts seem to agree that calorie restriction can actually harm the immune system and make you more susceptible to illness.
Everything that your body does requires energy, and energy comes from the calories in the foods that you eat. If you aren’t putting energy into your body, your immune system is going to have a very hard time fighting your illness.
However, this doesn’t mean that illness is an excuse to revert to poor eating habits. In fact, making healthy eating choices while sick will provide your body with more of the essential nutrients that it needs to get you healthy more quickly.
Food and Your Immune System
Macronutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, and lipids are essential to immunity. Studies have found that people whose diets lack these nutrients are far more likely to succumb to dangerous infections than those whose diets contain a healthy balance of nutrients.
This suggests that while you’re sick, you would do well to consume healthful foods that contain these vital macronutrients. You can get protein from lean meats, good carbohydrates from quinoa or lentils, and lipids from soy and nuts.
According to some research, plant-based diets may be the best option for boosting your immune system and getting back on your feet more quickly. Many of the most important immune-boosting vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy are found in fruits and vegetables.
Plant-based foods often contain anti-inflammatory properties, making them ideal for fighting illnesses. Some of the most effective plant-based foods to consume while sick include garlic, green tea, and ginger.
Dietitians also recommend a few other tweaks to your diet while fighting an illness. For example, reducing the amount of sugar that you consume and replacing it with healthy fiber can cut down on inflammation and make it easier for your immune system to do its job.
Broccoli, lentils, and beans are just a few healthful foods that are rich in fiber. In addition, dietitians recommend including foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet to help cut down on inflammation and boost your immune response. Foods in this category include chia seeds, walnuts, and fish.
Finally, vitamin C and zinc are two vitamins that imperative to a healthy immune system. Your immune system simply can’t function without these vital nutrients. To get a good dose of zinc, try legumes, nuts, and seafood.
For vitamin C, fruits such as strawberries, oranges, and kiwi are some of your best bets. However, it is better to consume these fruits in their natural state instead of in juice form. Juices often include a lot of added sugar, which is detrimental to your immune response.
When you’re feeling under the weather, getting well should be your highest priority. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of your weight-loss and fitness goals have to take a back seat.
The healthful foods that you would normally eat while dieting are also the ideal foods for boosting your immune system, and a little bit of movement can work wonders for making you feel better. The key is to listen to your body and give it what it needs without exhausting or depriving yourself. Stay well!