Holiday weight gain is incredibly common and prevalent. With these simple tips, you can have all the holiday fun, without the extra holiday gut (or love handles). Learn how to minimize holiday fat gain, and even increase muscle!
You’ve just gotten to your parents’ house for Thanksgiving or Christmas. The first scent through the door is pie. As excited as you are, you’re worried about gaining fat from the impending feast. After all, studies show that the average overweight American gains HALF of their extra fat during the holidays. Fortunately, you can prevent holiday weight gain and still enjoy all the awesome holiday food and festivities.
Before You Go
Don’t Overstress Ahead of Time
Sure, you’ve gotten great results from the six week guide so far, and you don’t want to sabotage your progress. No matter what you do on the holiday, one day of feasting is not going to impact your life too much. Don’t spend the week before the holiday eating very little and working out extra. You’ll only be hungrier and less hormonally prepared to handle the onslaught.
Eat a High-Protein Dinner the Night Before
Protein is incredibly satiating, and will do a great job preparing your body and mind for the next step.
Go Into the Feast on a Fast
Here’s the big secret to preventing holiday weight gain. Don’t deprive yourself for days or weeks before the feast, but DO fast for hours before the big meal. If you followed along with our article on intermittent fasting, you know that it offers many health benefits and should be done regularly. If you’ve been incorporating the recommended 16 hour fasts, bumping up to a 20-24 hour fast before the big meal should be no problem. If you’re still a newbie, try 12-16 hours.
Fasting before the big meal will increase your insulin sensitivity and the leptin bump you get from eating. Studies show that this will result in three key benefits:
- Fewer of the carbohydrate calories you consume will go to fat – more will go to muscle storage.
- You’ll burn more calories in the hours after the meal.
- You’ll use more of the protein in your meal for building muscle.
Amp Up Your Results – Workout Right Before Eating
We’ve already covered in depth the benefit of large post-workout meals. Since you’re already planning to have a huge meal, throw in a workout ahead of time. Boom, now it’s a post-workout meal! This amplifies all the positive effects listed above.
If you can’t workout immediately before the meal, just do it as close to the meal as you can. If you’re going to go two or more hours between exercise and eating, get in about 30g of whey protein in a shake right after the workout.
While You’re Eating
I’m a big fan of the psychological benefits of just letting loose once in a while. So I prefer to eat whatever the hell I want during the meal, and I recommend the same. If you do want to go through the effort, here are a few tips to minimize damage:
- Eat an ample amount of the protein source (turkey, ham, goose) first.
- Eat any vegetable (including sweet potato and yam) dishes second.
- Drink a glass of water before dessert.
After You’re Done Eating
The single best thing you can do after a meal is the same as with any other meal – go for a walk. Nothing crazy, just get as many of your family and friends to join you and make it fun.
“After dinner walk 100 steps and you will live 99 years.” -Chinese Saying
The Next Day
I cover this here.
It is important to start thinking about your after holiday plans before the holiday. Make specific plans. If you go in to thanksgiving or christmas thinking “on Friday, I’m back to eating Real Food and hitting the gym,” then when Friday rolls around, you won’t have to think about it – you’ll just do it.
Wrapping Up – Holiday Weight Gain Psychology
Holidays are supposed to be fun, so if this all stresses you out – ignore it completely. You won’t die, you just won’t be quite as fit as you could be.
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