As the holiday season approaches, many of us can lose track of our fitness goals and put on a bit of holiday weight. Not only is there the temptation of food and drinks at parties and social gatherings, but as our schedules fill up, our motivation to get in a quick workout dwindles.
There are lots of holiday challenges, including:
- lots of holiday parties
- less time to work out
- lots of stress
- being surrounded by people encouraging you to let your goals slide for the holidays
But instead of waking up on New Year’s Day, trying to re-find your motivation and build yourself back up in the gym, why don’t you continue to smash your goals through the holiday period?
But how?? We hear you shout. Well, we’re here to reassure you that you can enjoy the holiday season whilst also keeping on track with your fitness goals. Want to know more? Read on for our top tips on how to stay lean during the holiday period.
Make sure you’re prepared
If you know what’s coming your way through the holiday season, you can still enjoy it and smash your fitness goals. By taking positive action, you’ll be prepared with your purpose and a plan, and that’ll make it easier to swerve the treats and sweets during the holiday season.
Plus, when you’re prepared, you still know when to indulge in your favorite holiday foods and when you need to keep your fitness goals in mind.
Increase your fiber
Did you know that fiber has a wide range of health benefits? It plays an essential role in your digestive system, for example, keeping you ‘regular’, plus it helps to flush cancer-causing substances from your body.
Eating foods with more fiber helps keep you full and makes it easier to eat fewer calories. In addition, more calories are burned by digesting high fiber foods. Your daily recommended fiber intake is 25-35 grams a day; however, most Americans only get 14 grams of fiber a day. By increasing it to 35g, you could burn an extra 250 calories a day.
Increase your Essential Fatty Acids
By getting enough good fats, you’ll lose fat, build muscle, and you’ll recover faster from your workouts. Plus, did you know that that EFA’s have a wide range of health benefits, including:
- they’re good for your heart
- support your memory function
- strengthen your immune system
- minimize the damage to your body caused by free radicals
But what are good fats? Good fats include polyunsaturated, Omega-3s in particular, that come from fish and nuts. Plus, monosaturated fats come from foods like peanut butter, egg yolks, olive & fish oil, walnuts, avocados, almonds and sunflower, safflower & flaxseed oil.
Boost your protein
Increase your protein intake to boost your metabolism as well as maintain your muscle mass. Protein is key to losing fat and keeping it off.
Also Read: The benefits of slow weight loss for cutting
A great way to up your metabolism, burn calories and keep you from overeating is to have some whey protein with fiber 15-20 minutes before a meal.
Schedule your treat/cheat days
This comes back to being prepared but take a look at your holiday schedule and identify the days that you’ll most likely want to indulge or be most tempted, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any holiday parties. This way, you can arrange your schedule to enjoy a treat day on the same day as a holiday or event.
So, your Thanksgiving week may look something like this:
Monday – all protein
Tuesday – low carb
Wednesday – low carb
Thursday – treat day
Friday – low carb
Saturday – carbs and protein for breakfast & lunch, low carb for the rest of the day
Sunday – carbs and protein for breakfast & lunch, low carb for the rest of the day
And if you fancy some holiday treats on a non-treat day, why not save your dessert for a post-workout refuel? Smash your goals in the gym, then have some whey protein powder with water, then have a slice of pie. After a workout, your body is ready to soak up protein and carbs.
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Truthfully, most of us reach the dinner table already full of holiday appetizers. Don’t make this mistake, as it makes it so much easier to overeat when you’re not even hungry.
But don’t go to the dinner table empty either; you want to graze on some of the lighter appetizers like shrimp cocktail, nuts and don’t forget a protein bar or protein shake.
Avoid these foods during the holidays
The foods that you want to avoid are generally the same ones that you’re avoiding every day: unhealthy trans fats and highly refined carbs are top of your list to avoid.
So many otherwise wholesome foods are smothered in trans fats during the holiday season. Think about sweet potatoes covered in melted marshmallows, gravies thickened with a roux, holiday candies filled with sugar.
Also Read: How to strength train while cutting
By creating high insulin levels in your body, you’ll be making yourself feel very hungry, which will then cause you to overeat and over-indulge on calories. If you cannot restrain, we recommend you abstain altogether.
Foods to avoid:
- Saturated fats are found in full-fat dairy, cakes, sauces, palm oil, meat (although turkey is lower in fat), and pastries.
- Trans fats are created when oils are deep-fried. Opt for steamed or boiled foods if you can.
- Sodium is hard to avoid as it’s found in high amounts in almost all food but avoid adding any additional salt to your food.
Eat as naturally as you can during the holiday season
If you can eat foods in their most natural state, the less destruction there has been to nutrients and the calorie content.
Consider the size of your meal
We’re all tempted by a piled-high plate during the holidays, but big meals slow you down and can make you feel lazier.
Also Read: Here’s how to cut FAST
Be wary of large portions of foods high in fat and simple carbs; choose to avoid or go for smaller pieces of anything deep-fried, cakes and desserts.
HIIT is your friend during the holidays
We recommend HIIT workouts to maximize your chances of avoiding holiday weight gain, smashing your fitness goals, and finding time to fit workouts into your schedule. They’ll help you to burn fat faster with less training time.
Three approaches to dieting this holiday season
There are three diverse approaches to dieting that some of the biggest names in the fitness industry follow, even during the holidays.
- The bodybuilder diet – Bodybuilder Richard Baldwin’s only indulgence is a little cranberry sauce during the holiday season. It’s very extreme, although there’s no arguing with the results. For many bodybuilders, their body is a temple, and why would they ruin that for the holidays?
- “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” zig-zag method – This lets you turn holiday indulgence into a critical part of your program. Following three high-calorie days with three low-calorie days keeps your fat gain to a minimum. As long as your overall calories align with what you need them to be for loss/gain, you’ll maintain your goals.
- The warrior diet – This is basically where you under-eat throughout the day and feast at night. By under-eating, you’re eliminating waste and stabilizing your insulin and hormones for protein efficiency. This seems almost made for the holidays, you fast during the day, do your workout, and then relax with a big meal. Before and after the days of high carbs, you’d have low carb days.
Find your balance
Want to get through the holiday season without gaining loads of fat? Find your balance, use our tips, and balance is key to managing your goals and the holiday season.
By taking advantage of these top tips, you’ll not only avoid dreaded holiday weight gain, but you’ll make improvements to your fitness goals over the holidays!
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