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7 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Mason Jar of Water

7 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Now that Thanksgiving is over and you’ve stuffed your guts for the past few days, it’s time to get back to those rock-solid nutrition habits. That’s easy to say, but eating healthy around this time of year is tough. If you want to keep your body composition on track, there are many ways to avoid holiday weight gain. Here are seven ways to not gain extra fat rolls around this time of year.

Follow the 90/10 Rule

The rule is simple: 90% of your meals must be in accordance with your nutrition plan. (If you don’t have one, then it’s time to get serious.) Let’s say you eat four meals per day; over the course of seven days, that’s 28 meals. Therefore, 25 or 26 of those meals must be good, healthy meals. Make sure those meals have quality protein, fibrous carbs, and healthy fats.

The other 10% (2 or 3 meals) can be whatever the hell you want. The optimal thing to do is make sure those meals occur on the SAME day. Call it a “Cheat Day” if you want, but adding the extra calories in a singular day is better long term than over the course of a week. Pick which option works better for you.

Work Out When You Eat Like Shit

If you currently train anywhere from four to six days per week this shouldn’t be a problem. Simply schedule one training session the day of a holiday event and another the day after. This scenario is easy.

However, for people who can only train two to three days per week with the goal of losing fat, it’s more difficult. Full-body resistance workouts for 45-60 minutes featuring multi-joint compound movements (presses, rows, squats, hinging exercises) will be your best option. Getting in an additional 10-15 minutes of conditioning work with sprints, jump roping, a sled, or medicine ball slams are a few examples of what should be included. Also, not sitting on your ass all day will help, too.

Here’s an example of a short post-workout conditioning session after an upper-body training day:

  • 3 to 6 sets, 15-20 seconds of rest between exercises, rest no longer than 90 seconds after the sprints
  • Jump Rope – 100 reps double leg
  • Medicine Ball Side Slams – 8-10 reps per side
  • Hill/Incline Sprint – Sprint up a damn hill (if you must use a treadmill, put the incline between 6 and 8, then sprint for 30-45 seconds)

Fast

I recommend fasting, but I don’t think it’s a requirement for fat loss. Fasting does have tremendous benefits including the following (to name a few):

  • Promotes Fat Burning
  • Improves Insulin Sensitivity
  • Increases Metabolism
  • Elevates Growth Hormone

So, how should you fast?

First, if you drink anything other than water, it will break your fast. Don’t drink coffee, BCAA’s, flavored water, or zero-calorie soft drinks. When you drink anything but plain water, your body must work to metabolize it. Just drink water!

Second, don’t fast on a day when you’re planning to train. The only exercise you should do is walking at a steady state.

If you’re wanting to try an all-day fast, do it the day before you plan to consume a lot of calories.

Intermittent Fasting

Besides eating Paleo or Keto, intermittent fasting has become a big craze over the past few years in the nutrition world. It also has the same benefits as fasting for 24 hours and you get to consume calories! With intermittent fasting, you consume your calories during specified hours of the day and choose to not eat food the other hours of the day.

The easiest protocol to attempt is the 16/8. Here, you’ll fast for 16 hours out of the day and consume your calories within an eight-hour window. Here are a few examples:

  • Begin eating at 8 am and stop eating at 4 pm (skipping dinner)
  • Begin eating at 12 pm and stop eating at 8 pm (skipping breakfast)
  • Begin eating at 2 pm and stop eating at 10 pm (skipping breakfast and eating a later lunch)

As you can see, you’ll either skip breakfast or dinner on these days. Plan your intermittent fasting with your training, work hours, and social life in mind. If you’re training early in the morning, then skipping breakfast is a bad option. Do you have a family dinner planned for the evening full of naughty stuff to eat? Skip breakfast and make your eating window from 2 pm to 10 pm. Also, the hours don’t have to be exactly as displayed. Just make sure it’s eight hours. You can also shorten the eating window for 18- and 20-hour fasts. By doing so, you’re eating window will decrease to six and four hours, respectively.

Doing this daily work can work. If you can’t do it every day, that’s fine. Add some variety to your life and try it out a couple of days per week. See how your body responds and adjust from there.

Conditioning, Conditioning, Conditioning

I’m a big fan of walking; it’s fantastic for your health. But fighting against holiday weight gain calls for a different type of animal. If you’re going to drink eggnog and eat more desserts than you would at any other point during the year, then it’s time to step it up.

Going with the advice of #2, you can add 10-15 minutes of conditioning work at the end of a resistance training session. The other option is adding one or two conditioning sessions per week outside of your regular training. Beyond the options previously listed, include exercises like box jumps, mountain climbers, boxing, battle ropes, or kettlebell swings to get your heart rate up. Take short rest periods and don’t get distracted.

For Every Alcoholic Beverage, Drink One Glass of Water

One key to staying fit is staying hydrated. Alcohol dehydrates the body. Ever notice that when you consume a few alcoholic drinks, you urinate quite a bit? When you urinate, not only are you getting rid of the drink, you’re also eliminating body water and salt. The byproduct is that your body wants to replenish its sodium level.

Now that your inhibitions are lowered and judgment is impaired, you’ll eat whatever is available. Are most restaurants, bars, or parties going to have healthy foods? NO! You want fries, chips, peanuts, pretzels, and a host of other snacks that will get your nutrition off track.

So, have one glass of water for each alcoholic beverage. It will keep you hydrated, lower your chances of getting drunk, and reduce the chances of over-consuming calories.

Eat Something Before You Go to a Holiday Party

Unless you’re practicing intermittent fasting and consuming calories would ultimately break your fast for the day, I would have a healthy meal before going to a holiday event. By having a meal before the event, you’ll be full and the need to snack on unhealthy food simply won’t be there. Make sure that the meal includes a good amount of protein. Remember, protein supports fat loss by suppressing appetite and increasing your body’s thermogenesis (burning of fat).

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