It’s the holiday season again, and all good intentions of trying to keep your fitness progress on track are a lot easier said than done, especially when there is a feast of gravy, stuffing, and fruit cake coming towards you.
The holidays are a leisure part of the year, but still it’s important to realize the cost of delaying your daily exercise routine and enjoying some extra calories along the way.
Luckily you still have a choice. You can make small changes in how you approach this time, and the food, fun, and stressors that come with it.
I’ve compiled a list of the absolute best ways to prevent weight gain this holiday season, just continue reading and find out!
Eat Light During the Day
Since most of your celebrations are scheduled for the evenings, during the day is when you’ll have the chance to actually control your calorie intake.
Keep them low at breakfast and lunch by skipping carbs, opt for more filling protein options, and high-fiber veggies. Then when you arrive at the part that night, you’ll be able to indulge with your friends without any guilt!
Why does this work? Well it’s simple, avoiding starchy and sugary carbohydrates keeps your insulin low, allowing you to stay in a “fat-burning mode” for the majority of the day. The combination of protein and fiber from foods such as tilapia and spinach will balance your blood sugar levels, keeping your hunger and calories low until your evening purge begins.
Once you arrive at the social gathering, be it a buffet dinner at a restaurant or a family reunion at home, fill your plate up with protein first. Opting for lean meats such as turkey and chicken before moving on to the bread and potatoes, which will significantly impact their digestion, lowering the inevitable insulin spike.
You’ll also be less likely to overeat as protein tends to have a strong satiating effect.
Implement Intermittent Fasting Strategically
The benefits of intermittent fasting go beyond the reach of this article. However, one of the best times you can use IF is the day after an enormous meal such as Christmas dinner. A long fast the following day allows you to burn off those excess calories from the previous evening, especially if you can go out for a light cardio session.
And how long should you fast for? A good start would be an 8-hour eating window, the remaining 16 hours you don’t consume any calories.
Avoid Liquid Calories
All that eggnog and pomegranate martinis you had last year impacted your health in more than one way. Besides the sugar and fat, when it comes to alcohol calories, the stomach and brain do not register these liquids the same as solids. We often continue to eat and drink without taking into account the added calories.
It’s time to cut back on these and find some satisfying and less guilty alternatives. Try low-calorie drinks, such as tea, sparkling water, pitcher of fruit-infused cold water, and similar. People often mistake thirst for hunger, so next time you feel like snacking, just reach for a glass of water first, and wait 20 minutes. Often the false “hunger” will go away.
After all fun is over, wake up the next morning and try to force yourself to get moving. While you don’t have to hit the weights with your usual intensity, going outside for a brief hike will do wonders at off-setting the weight gain. It’s a great way to spend time with your family as well, providing you a much needed break from endless partying and celebration.
The combination of fasting and exercise is a powerful tool to put the brakes on weight gain.
Still, try to make the most out of this time of year and allow yourself to indulge in some good food and company. The stress reduction aspect is not to be underestimated. Lower cortisol levels (our primary stress hormones) can do wonders when it comes to weight loss and maintenance.
More importantly, you won’t gain any significant amount of weight from one or two big meals. By following all the above steps, who knows, you may even lose a few pounds!