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It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, life was business as usual.

Now, we’re just a few weeks into the COVID-19 lockdown, and it’s looking like this will be the “new normal” for at least another few months. 

And us fitness folks are having a time of it.

For one thing, you have to work out from home, and if that weren’t bad enough, some grocery stores are running out of stock on meat, vegetables, fruit, and other healthy staples. 

So you’re probably wondering, how the heck are you supposed to eat healthy through this mess? 

Should you cut, bulk, or maintain? 

And how are you supposed to avoid overeating? 

You’ve probably seen news stories about people binge eating junk food to mollify their frayed nerves, and others grazing throughout the day to mitigate their boredom, leading some people to call weight gained during the lockdown the “quarantine 15” or “COVID-15.”

Well, the good news is that if you know what you’re doing, eating healthy during the quarantine is bat . . . er . . . duck soup. 

In this podcast, you’ll learn exactly how you should diet to not only avoid getting fat, but to maintain your muscle mass and even lose fat while stuck inside. 

Let’s get started!


2:16 – Should I be cutting during quarantine? 

11:58 – Should I be lean bulking during quarantine? 

19:09 – How can I avoid overeating? 

Mentioned on the show: 

Save up to 30% during Legion’s Spring Sale

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


What should you be doing with your diet right now while under lockdown? Many people have been asking me about this. They want to know if they should be cutting right now or could cut right now. Could they use this opportunity to get shredded or is that a bad idea because it might impair your immune system.

Or maybe it’s smarter to go in the other direction right now, lean bulk because let’s face it, many of us are stuck at home and we’re bored and we’re eating more than we usually eat. So should we just use that to our advantage and try to use it to gain some muscle and strength or maybe maintenance is the way to go right now.

Maybe it’s not a good idea to cut. Not a great idea to lean bulk, but maintenance right in the middle is the best play. Well, that’s what we are gonna be talking about here. Oh, and if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please do consider supporting my sports nutrition company, Legion Athletics, which is currently holding its first big site-wide sale of the year.

Our spring sale, and that means that for the next few days, you can save up to 30% on select items in our store [email protected], including our protein powders and protein bars, our pre-workout and post-workout supplements, fat burners, multivitamins, joint support, and more. We have quite a bit to offer, and if you head on over to legion, you’ll see that everything in the store.

Is currently marked down up to 15%, and then when you enter the code spring at checkout, you save up to another 15% and your order ship’s free if you’re in the United States. And if you’re not, it ships free if it’s over $99. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you want to help me do more of it, if you wanna see more stuff like this podcast, please do support me so I can keep doing what I love.

Like producing podcasts like this. So to shop and save now, just head over to legion and use the code spring at checkout and you will save up to 30% on your entire order. I. So let’s start with cutting, because that’s what most people seem to want to know about is could they cut right now or is that a bad idea?

Yes, you can cut right now. You can restrict your calories. Just do it the normal way. You know, a moderate calorie deficit, probably something around 20%. Eating enough protein. I recommend eating plenty of carbs as well. Not because it has anything to do with your immune system or the virus, but just because it makes dieting more enjoyable and it’s also more conducive to muscle and strength gain or minimally muscle and strength maintenance.

Now, if you’re gonna cut, make sure you don’t overdo it, and that’s just generally good advice regardless of. Whether there is a novel coronavirus going around or not, don’t eat too little or move too much. Don’t maintain a very large calorie deficit. I’m talking about probably 30% and larger while people who have a lot of body fat to lose, obese people can do that safely.

They can. Run a 30, 40, or even 50% calorie deficit depending on how overweight they are and how much fat they have to lose to get to a normal body composition. Most of us are not gonna do well with that if you’re somebody who just has a bit of fat to lose. But you’re not very, very big if you. Run a 30, 40, or 50% calorie deficit.

Yes, you’re gonna lose fat. You’re gonna lose fat quickly, but you’re also probably gonna lose muscle. You’re gonna feel terrible. Your workouts are gonna be terrible, and your immune system may be compromised to some degree. So if you’re gonna cut, just do it normally. Don’t rush it based on when your state’s quarantine might come to an end.

For example, in Florida, beaches are already opening. If you’re in Florida and you wanna go to the beach in, let’s say two or three weeks, don’t try to crash diet to get there. Just go into a normal cut. Maintain a moderate calorie deficit. Do no more than let’s say, four to six hours of resistance training per week, and no more than half of that in cardio.

So a couple hours of cardio per week and stay patient. Now, another question I’m getting asked, I. Regarding cutting is if you don’t have a proper home gym set up, so you don’t have barbells and maybe you don’t even have dumbbells. All you have is your body weight and maybe some bands. Maybe some bands. Is that I.

Enough to retain muscle and strength while cutting? Or again, is it smarter to just maintain or lean bulk and get into a cut when you are back in the gym? My answer to that question is also what many people want to hear, and that is you can cut right now and maintain. Most of your muscle, if not all of your muscle, and much of your strength, if not most of your strength.

Probably not all of it, and I’ll talk more about that in a moment with just your body for workouts. So body weight workouts and if you have bands, your odds are even better. And uh, by bands I’m referring to the big rubber bands, the power lifting bands, you know, they range from 25 to 125 pounds. They’re probably gonna be hard, if not impossible to find online right now.

But if you already have a set because you got one early on or you’ve just had one, then go, you and you absolutely are gonna be able to maintain most, if most, if not all of your muscle and a lot of your strength. If you also have a set of dumbbells that. Gets moderately heavy. It doesn’t even have to be, uh, a set that goes up to 90, a hundred plus pounds.

Even if it just goes up to the mid fifties, you can do a lot. And the reason for that, the reason why you shouldn’t have any trouble cutting right now in terms of. Maintaining muscle and optimizing your body composition is it does not take nearly as much training stimulus to maintain muscle as it does to gain muscle.

You have to work way harder to gain muscle than you have to to maintain muscle. Now, this has been shown in several studies. For example, there was a study conducted by scientists at the University of Alabama that found with both young and older guys reducing training volume. To about one third of their normal training volume for about eight months resulted in very little muscle loss.

Both the young guys and the older guys maintained most of their muscle doing about a third of their normal training volume for eight months. Now these guys weren’t doing body weight workouts and they weren’t doing band workouts. They were doing proper resistance training workouts. So it’s not exactly the same, of course, but it does go to show that you really don’t need to work nearly as hard to maintain muscle as you do to gain muscle.

So when you look at that in the context of body weight workouts, which you actually can make, Moderately difficult if you use different types of exercise variations, and if you work in higher rep ranges, so you just, let’s say in your weightlifting workouts, you’re used to working with anywhere from 60 to maybe 90% of your one rep max.

And so that’s anywhere from, let’s say, Three to maybe 12 reps, which is what you want to be doing in the gym. When you are throwing around iron in your body weight workouts, you might be working in the rep range generally of 20 to 30 reps per set. And yeah, that’s not ideal from the perspective of muscle hypertrophy, but it’s still a decent training stimulus if you are able to end most of your training sets.

Uh, right at muscle failure. Absolute muscle failure, which you can do safely when you’re doing body weight exercises. And if you do enough of those sets, if you do enough volume per per major muscle group per week, then you can certainly maintain a lot of muscle, even if you are very overused, even if you’re a pretty jacked dude or gal.

Then if you add bands into the mix, you might be able to even work in a lower rep range. You might be able to provide more resistance for the movements and maybe not. Maybe you’re very strong and it requires bands for you to even stay in the 20 to 30 rep range. Again, I. Totally fine. So all of that just means that if you know what you’re doing in your home workouts and if you’re doing enough of them, and if you’re working hard enough in those workouts, you can cut right now and maintain again, most or.

All of your muscle. And if you want more advice about that, how to do that, how to do effective home workouts, head over to legion Hit the blog. And right at the top you’ll find in a, a long article I wrote pinned, uh, at the top of the blog feed. It’s about nine or 10,000 words, and I put everything I could think of in there.

I put some basic theory about home workouts and why they’re effective. Some of the things I just spoke about here, as well as body weight workouts, band workouts, dumbbell workouts, beginner workouts, intermediate workouts, advanced workouts, some programming tips, equipment recommendations. I really put everything I could think of in there.

And again, that’s at legion Uh, just head to the blog and you’ll find it pinned right at the top of the blog feed. Now, I mentioned earlier that you might lose some strength right now, and let’s just quickly talk about that because that is true whether you are cutting, maintaining, lean bulking, and it’s true even if you have not only bands, but you also have a set of dumbbells.

And the reason for that is if you are normally in the gym, squatting, pulling, and pressing barbells, which you probably are, If you are following me in my work, realize that there is a skill component to those types of exercises. Now, squatting, deadlifting, bench pressing, overhead pressing. These movements are not as difficult or.

Technically demanding as like a golf swing or hitting a fast ball or pole vaulting or something like that. But they do require technique. And if you don’t do something that requires some skill for a bit of time, you get rusty, right? And then when you start doing it again, it’s awkward. You can’t just. Not swing a golf club for two or three months and then hit the course and hit a bunch of great shots.

Well, similarly, you can’t just step away from the barbell for a couple of months, come back and expect to be right where you were when you left off, even if you haven’t lost any muscle. And remember, that’s really what drives the majority of your strength is just how much muscle you have. The skill component is a much smaller part of the equation, but it is a significant part sign significant enough to make a difference when it degrades through disuse.

So what that means is we should all expect our training weights to be a bit lower than they were, uh, before the Wuhan virus. That our pre wuhan training weights are gonna be a bit higher than our post wuhan training weights. Simply because of that skill degradation, even if we don’t lose any muscle.

Even if we work hard in our home workouts, I don’t think any of us are gonna be able to get right back to barbell squatting, what we were barbell squatting before we went into quarantine. But the skill will come back quickly. There is a muscle memory component to that as well. And so I think it’s reasonable to say that we should be right back to where we left.

Off maybe within a few weeks, three or four weeks or so of getting back under and over the bar. Now let’s talk about lean bulking. Should you be lean bulking right now? No, unless you are new to resistance training. And you also wanna make sure that you are relatively lean too. You wanna make sure if you’re a guy, that you’re around 10% body fat when you’re starting a lean bulk.

And if you’re a gal around 20%. So you can stay in that surplus for an extended period of time and really make some progress if you are not new. And to put some numbers to that, let’s say if. You are in your first six to eight months of proper resistance training. You are new. If you’re a guy who has yet to gain his first 15 ish pounds of muscle, you are new.

If you’re a girl who has yet to gain her first, let’s say, 7, 6, 7, 8 pounds of muscle, you’re new. If you are beyond that, if you, if you’re a guy, Let’s say you’ve been lifting for a year, maybe a year and a half, you’ve already gained 20 ish pounds of muscle. If you’re a gal and you’ve been lifting for a year, year and a half, maybe you’ve gained about half of that.

Maybe you’ve gained your first 10, 12 pounds of muscle. You’re not new, and I. I don’t recommend that you lean bulk in that case because while our home workouts are going to be enough to maintain a lot of our muscle, or even all of our muscle and a lot of our strength, it’s very hard, if not impossible to make them difficult enough, challenging enough to make our muscles do enough work to facilitate muscle gain and strength gain.

And that’s certainly true if you are only doing body weight workouts. Uh, it’s almost certainly true if you’re doing band workouts as well. You can get a decent training stimulus out of dumbbells if they’re heavy enough. So I would say that’s where it depends what you have. For example, I have a set of.

Bowflex adjustable dumbbells that go up to 90 pounds. And the 90 pounds actually feels like a bit more than 90 pounds. ’cause it’s kind of awkward. I feel like it’s more difficult than 90 pounds should be. And so that allows me to do some exercises similarly to how I would do them in the gym. But not so much with others.

For example, the dumbbell deadlift is a decent exercise, but uh, doing it with 90 pound dumbbells is not anything like doing it with close to 400 pounds on the bar. Now that said, if I look at my training on the hole, a lot of my. Bigger muscle group movements are in the rep range of probably 10 to 12, maybe as high as 15, which is a pretty good training stimulus.

It’s not exactly how I train normally. I would be ranging from, let’s say, anywhere from 10 reps to two reps on my primary, my big compound exercises, and 12 reps to maybe six or four reps on my accessory exercises. So I can’t do any of the. The real heavier stuff I’m used to, but with a lot of exercises, at least the, the primary muscle groups, I still can work around 10 reps and that’s, that’s pretty good from a, from a muscle building perspective.

So long as you are taking those sets close to technical failure, 10 rep sets are certainly. Uh, effective for gaining muscle. So in my case, I probably could lean bulk if I wanted to, and while it wouldn’t be as productive as if I were in the gym, it wouldn’t be a complete waste either. It wouldn’t be just a bunch of fat gain for nothing.

I. And so if you’re in the same boat as me, if you do have a good set of dumbbells and you want to lean bulk, you can do it, but you need to know what you’re doing. Again, in those workouts, you need to make sure that you are training each major muscle group enough every week, and if you don’t know how to set that up, Just head over to legion and check out that article.

It’s at the blog. It’s right at the top. Check it out. It will help you set up your dumbbell workout so they’re maximally productive. Now, if you don’t have heavy dumbbells, let’s say you have dumbbells that go up to 50 pounds and with. You know, let’s say an exercise like the dumbbell front squat, which is an effective leg exercise, but if you are normally, let’s say squatting, double your body weight in the gym with the barbell, and now you are front squatting, 50 pound dumbbells, you’re probably doing sets of 20 or 30 plus reps.

And yes, you want to do that, but. If that is the case with, uh, your major muscle groups, for example, dumbbell rows. If, if you’re that strong in your squat, you’re probably rowing a hundred plus for sets of six to 10. Okay? You drop down to fifties and now you’re doing many, many more reps. I would not recommend Lean Bulking because it’s probably not gonna result in very much muscle gain.

It’s almost certainly not gonna result in much strength gain when you’re working in those higher rep ranges, and it will result in fat gain, guaranteed. And of course then if you don’t have any dumbbells, if you just have bands, and if you don’t even have bands, then I don’t recommend Lean Bulking again, unless you are.

New to all of this because you may be able to provide your, your body with enough training stimulus to gain some muscle and gain some strength right now if you’re new. And that’s only because when you’re new, your body’s hyper responsive to resistance training. But that only lasts for, you know, six to eight months or so in most people.

And then you gotta really dig in. You gotta really start working a lot harder for a lot less.

If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please do consider supporting my sports nutrition company, Legion Athletics, which is currently holding, its. First big site-wide sale of the year, our spring sale, and that means that for the next few days, you can save up to 30% on select items in our store [email protected], including our protein powders.

And. Protein bars, our pre-workout and post-workout supplements, fat burners, multivitamins, joint support, and more. We have quite a bit to offer, and if you head on over to legion, you’ll see that everything in the store is currently marked down up to 15%. And then when you enter the code spring at checkout, you save up to another 15% and your order ship’s free.

If you’re in the United States, and if you’re not, it ships free if it’s over $99. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you want to help me do more of it, if you wanna see more stuff like this podcast, please do support me so I can keep doing what I love, like producing podcasts like this. So to shop and save now, just head over to legion and use the code spring at checkout and you will save up to 30% on your entire order.

Okay, now let’s talk about avoiding overeating because many people are struggling with this right now. Regardless of what they want to do, what they intend to do with their calories and macros, whether it is cutting, maintaining, or lean bulking, a lot of them are just, I. Dirty bulking. They’re just eating way too much food and it’s not the end of the world, and so long as you keep training, you are going to make the most of those calories, I guess, I guess you could say.

But it’s also not ideal, right? None of us want to come out of this with the quarantine 15 as the social medias are joking. So the first tip is to make sure you are eating enough protein, which you probably are, but I’m just gonna say it because protein is very filling and it’s gonna keep you fuller longer than carbs and fat.

So make sure that your protein is somewhere around a gram per pound of body weight per day, or 40% of calories. Now, something else kind of interesting about protein that you can use to your advantage now and in the future is that research shows when you overfeed. With protein. So when you eat a lot of protein and you put yourself into a calorie surplus, so let’s say you have your normal macros, right, and your calories are normally balanced at expenditure, so you are maintaining if you increase your protein intake, but let’s say 50% one day, you can expect basically no fat gain.

And that’s cool because you can then think with that if you want to overeat. So let’s say you are having a hard time right now and you’re very stressed and being in a calorie surplus just makes you feel better. And I understand that’s also a reason to not cut. I should have mentioned that earlier. But if you are particularly stressed, Going into a calorie deficit right now may not be the best idea because it’s not gonna make you less stressed.

It may not make you much more stressed, but it’s probably gonna make you a bit more on edge. And so if you want to be in a calorie surplus, because it just helps you feel better if you are willing to do it, if you can take your. Your normal maintenance calories. Set it up the way that you, that you like it with, uh, 40% of your calories coming from protein and then splitting up your, your carbs and fat however you like, and then you.

Periodically, even if it’s a couple times per week, increase your protein intake significantly. You can expect little or no fat gain. Now understand that can be kind of hard to do because unless you’re just gonna pound protein powder, which is probably not your idea of a good sheet meal, you are going to be increasing your fat intake.

For example, if you want to have a delicious ribeye steak, And that is something that is gonna make you feel good. Then of course it’s gonna come with with a fair amount of fat and that’s okay. What you wanna do then is on the day where you’re gonna have the ribeye steak and maybe a couple other high protein indulgences.

You just wanna look at your macros and probably reduce your fat intake from the foods that you’re normally getting your fat from. So let’s say you’re having some olive oil and some nuts and some avocado and maybe some dairy. So what you want to do is you want to reduce your intake of those foods to make room for the fat that’s gonna come with the ribeye steak and whatever else that you want to eat.

So again, what you’re going for is your carbohydrates and your fats where they would normally be, uh, at a maintenance calorie intake with your protein at about 40% of your calories. And you want to then spike your protein intake, and you could do that again several times per week and expect very little, if any, fat gain.

Alright, now lemme just run down, uh, a list here of other simple tips that can help you just keep your calorie in intake under control. So one is to stay busy. So spend your time reading, working, taking online courses, going outside, walking. Try not to just sit around watching TV with snack food around you.

Eating your high protein foods first can help you feel fuller faster. So I’m talking about in individual meals. Eat your protein first, which will help you fill up before you get to the tasty stuff, the carbs and the fats. Eating plenty of high fiber, low energy density. Foods is smart. That’s a, a good tip if you’re cutting right.

That’s one of the reasons why eating fruits and vegetables helps a lot when you’re cutting is these foods are very filling as long as you pick higher fiber varieties. But most fruits and vegetables are high fiber, so these foods are very filling, but they don’t provide that many calories. You also want to minimize your consumption of alcohol, sugar, and highly processed foods.

Pretty obvious. Preparing your own meals is a good idea, and many people are doing that right now, but many people are also just doing takeout and delivery. If you prepare your own food though, it’s not only gonna save you money, but it’s also going to allow you to better track or at least regulate your calorie intake because you know what is going into the.

Food. Remember, restaurants are in the business of making delicious food, not diet friendly or fitness friendly food. And one of the easiest ways to make any dish, just about any dish, more delicious, is to add fat. So to add some oil, add some butter, or add sugar. Following a meal plan is another great idea.

If you want to keep your calories in check, and especially if you’re new to it, if you have never really followed a meal plan, take this opportunity to learn how to do it properly, because even if you don’t do it, when we come out of quarantine and you want to eat more intuitively, you are going to be a better intuitive eater for having done it.

The reason for that is you’re gonna be more familiar with the calories and macros of the foods that you like to eat, and you’re gonna be more familiar with portion sizes and how those translate into calories and macros. And you’re gonna be more familiar with how it feels to be in a calorie surplus or in a calorie deficit or somewhere around maintenance calories, because there is a feeling you can have a pretty good sense of by the end of the day.

Whether you were in a calorie deficit or uh, a calorie surplus or somewhere around maintenance, simply by feel. Another simple little tip is to just recalibrate your expectations. Don’t be too hard on yourself if things have not gone exactly as planned. That’s the case for many of us, not just with our fitness, but in many area, uh, areas of our lives.

So do the best that you can, and if your goal is simply to maintain. Most of your muscle, maintain much of your strength and not gain too much fat by the end of this, uh, end of this thing. I think that’s perfectly reasonable. And lastly, you can consider weighing yourself every day just to keep an eye on your weight and see where it goes.

Where the average weight trends, you know, every five or seven days, taking an average, not stressing out over the daily fluctuations, but taking an average every five or seven days and watching that. Now if weighing yourself at all, uh, let alone every day tends to stress you out, maybe don’t do that right now.

I. All right. Well, that’s it for today’s episode. I hope you found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, could you please leave a quick review for the podcast on iTunes or wherever I. You are listening from because those reviews not only convince people that they should check out the show, they also increase the search visibility and help more people find their way to me and to the podcast and learn how to build their best body ever as well.

And of course, if you wanna be notified, When the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast in whatever app you’re using to listen and you will not miss out on any of the new stuff that I have coming. And last, if you didn’t like something about the show, then definitely shoot me an email at [email protected] and share your thoughts.

Let me know how you think I could do this better. I read every email myself, and I’m always. Looking for constructive feedback. All right, thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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