The ability to work from home is valuable to many employees due to the flexibility it offers them. However, a new survey has revealed that the practice, which soared in popularity during and after the COVID pandemic forced most workers out of the office, might contribute to weight gain.
The survey carried out by fitness tracking app MyFitnessPal, which involved 2,000 hybrid workers, found that Britons consume nearly 800 more calories and walk 3,500 fewer steps on average on days they work from home, compared to when they head into the office.
More than half (60%) of respondents were aware that they ate more unhealthily at home, and 45% admitted they often don’t leave their home at all when they work from home.
Survey participants were asked to log all the food they ate throughout a day of working from home, including snacks, with results revealing that on average, respondents consumed 2,752 calories.
During a typical office day, they consumed 1,961 calories, 791 fewer calories compared to the alternative.
On work-from-home days, more than a third (36%) of employees admitted to snacking even when they weren’t hungry, and claimed to consume five snacks a day compared to three when working in the office.
They were also asked to use their smartphones or smart watches, such as Fitbit or Apple watches, to record the number of steps they took daily. The data revealed that an average of 4,518 steps per day were logged by employees who worked from home, compared to an average of 8,087 steps per day walked during an office day.
The results come after a global survey revealed earlier this year that British employees spend more time working from home compared to their European peers, logging an average of 1.5 days a week from home compared to the international average of 0.9 days.
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How many calories a day should you consume?
According to the NHS, the recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men.
However, the “ideal” daily intake will vary depending on factors such as age, metabolism and levels of physical activity.
Can I snack everyday?
Snacking is a normal part of everyday eating patterns, the British Dietetic Association (BDA) has said, and can be a healthy part of your diet if chosen wisely. However, there can often be temptation to snack frequently or excessively, which could lead to unwanted weight gain and other unhealthy habits.
"Snacks provide energy for your activities throughout the day and can contribute valuable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre," the BDA says on its website, adding: "Some snack foods can be a source of extra fat, sugar and salt, so choose carefully and keep portion sizes sensible".
Read more: This is the worst time of day to snack, according to nutritionists (HuffPost UK, 2-min read)
What is a healthy snack?
It is recommended that you choose snacks from the following food groups to ensure you get a healthy range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
Fruits and vegetables
Carrot, pepper or cucumber sticks with hummus
Chopped melon or pineapple
Plain or fruit scone
Wholegrain cereal with semi-skimmed milk or plant-based alternative
Half a bagel with low-fat cream cheese
Slice of wholemeal/seeded toasted bread with low-fat spread and yeast extract
Two rice cakes with hummus or soft cheese
Small bowl of bean salad
Roasted chickpeas or beans
Slices of apple with nut butter
Small handful of mixed nuts
Dairy or plant-based alternatives
Reduced-fat cheese and plain crackers
Fruit/vegetable smoothie with semi-skimmed milk or plant-based alternative
What snacks should you avoid?
Ironically, foods that we usually consider to be snacks - such as crisps, chocolates, biscuits and sweets - are often high in fat and sugar or salt, and are not the healthiest options.
You can still eat these snacks in small amounts occasionally, but it is recommended that you balance your snacking out with healthier alternatives such as those mentioned above.
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Are there other ways to snack less at home?
As working from home is a big part of many people’s lives, it is important to ensure that you surround yourself with healthy snacks instead of foods that are high in fat and sugar or salt.
The BDA suggests trying to buy less nutritious snacks while you do your shopping so that they do not tempt you while at home. You can also encourage yourself to eat healthier by making sure you display the more nutritious alternatives around your home.
For instance, arranging reduced-fat yoghurts and vegetable sticks at the front of your fridge, or having a bowl of fruit on display, can help you notice the healthy options first.
You should also try and think of your reason for snacking before reaching into the cupboard. Having a snack because you are hungry or about to exercise later in the day is better than snacking just because the food is there or out of boredom.
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