Yes, I know. Every fitness and diet related blogger writes one of these posts at this time of the year. So sorry if you’re bored and you’ve read it all before. This is my own personal take on how to minimize fat gain across the holidays, and hopefully avoid it altogether.
7 Ways to Gain Less Fat in the Holiday Season
1.) Create a “Calorie Sink” before you Tackle the Turkey Through Training
I’ve said it time and again here on LeanMassGains.com – one of the great benefits of resistance weight exercise, when done right, is that you can get away with eating more-or-less anything after a workout. Obviously if you take this to the extreme and try to munch through a 10lb turkey, four dozen roast potatoes and the entire buffet cart then this isn’t quite the case. But the point still stands – free weight, resistance training causes your muscle cells to be more insulin sensitive and creates an environment where calories are preferentially pushed toward growing muscles rather than love handles.
Those of you who train at home should have no issue getting up early on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day and doing a quick workout in the fasted state before you start the festivities. Even a few sets of heavy squats will help. Those of you who use a commercial gym may find it’s closed for the day – never mind. You can do pull ups on door frames, body weight squats and press ups easily enough. Whilst I’m not normally a fan of HIIT, you could try doing some Tabata Burpees before you start your feasting.
2.) Create a Calorie Sink before you Tackle the Turkey Through Fasting
This site does push Intermittent Fasting quite heavily, and it does have its uses over the holiday period. I would suggest anyone that’s new to the eating habit tries it out first on a day when there won’t be a ton of calories just lying around on the table first… because you’re likely to massively over-eat on your first post-fasting meal unless you’re used to it.
Those of you who follow the 16 hour fast, 8 hour feed approach I advocate on this site will be more than comfortable with the benefits of fasting. If you have a big evening meal to go for, why not try and push your fast to last that bit longer (up to 20 hours should still be fine). By missing out on a lunch time meal you create a little bit more of a deficit than would otherwise be the case.
Those of you who don’t already fast, give it a try in the run up to the holiday craziness. Then try and fast for 16-20 hours prior to your big celebratory meal. You’ll find that there’s a big calorie sink for the turkey to fall into, and you’ll make end up adding less pounds to your posterior at the same time.
3.) Make Better Choices at the Buffet
I know – it’s the holidays and you want to have fun. But there are ways to make that fun a little less costly on the waistline.
As you’ll know if you read the free course or the book, protein is the most satiating nutrient you can consume. That means it fills you up and stops you over-consuming the high calorie crap at the dessert buffet. Protein has an added advantage – with a higher thermic cost of digestion, you get less usable calories consumed if you eat high protein meals during your holiday festivities.
If you’re drinking alcohol at the parties then try to stick to high protein, low carb, low fat options (I know – it limits your choices but your gut will thank you). It should be easy enough to find higher protein choices at any venue (or even bring your own). Alcohol is the first fuel to be oxidized in your bloodstream, meaning any carb or fat rich foods you consume can go straight to the fat stores.
4.) Use those Toys You Just Bought the Kids!
Most people eat until they feel physically sick, then sit down in front of the TV and go to sleep. Don’t be one of them. On Christmas day make the most of the kids in your family – with all their new toys they’ll be desperate for someone to play with. Take them down to the park on that new shiny bicycle. If you live somewhere cold – buy them a sled and give them a push down the hill.
On Thanksgiving, why not head out and play some sports in the back yard? Even the most half-hearted exercise is more use than lying on the sofa like a beached whale.
5.) Learn to Say NO!
It’s not easy – and it does risk being the patronizing option. But saying no shouldn’t mean having no fun – it might be asking family to buy you less candy for Christmas. It might be refusing the second helping of dessert. Maybe you should turn down that last portion of pie. Tip number three – eating more protein – will definitely help here, because you’ll be more full and will struggle to eat the additional portions anyway. But it boils down to willpower – if you’ve been putting in the effort all year long to get into great shape, why would you throw it away on a single day’s worth of bingeing?
6.) Learn to Relax!
So this is going to fly right in the face of tip number five, but what the hey.
You can only do so much damage during the holidays. And you need to be flexible in your dieting to get long term adherence and long term results. So just RELAX!
This isn’t to say that you should head out every single night for another holiday drinks party. It’s not a free pass to devour the entire candy collection then go back for a double helping of dessert. The point is – relax, enjoy yourself, then get right back on your diet immediately afterwards. Have a planned diet break over the weekend, take the chance to eat a few more carbohydrates, top up the leptin levels and make yourself happy. Then make damn sure you get straight back to business as soon as the party is over.
7.) Consider a Rapid Fat Loss Diet Before or After the Holiday Season
We might be a little late to catch you guys in North America before Thanksgiving, but you can still put this to use between now and Christmas.
If you’re the sort of person that puts on 10lbs of fat at this time every year, you might need a more extreme method of keeping the waistline in check. Why not try a rapid fat loss approach – quickly dropping 10lbs of fat before you hit the party season. Before you run for the hills and think I’ve gone crazy – there’s actually good evidence to show that rapid fat loss (over the short term – less than 2 weeks) can give a dieter a psychological boost and help with dietary adherence over the long term. There’s also anecdotal evidence showing that if you go for a stricter dietary approach (and get success) you’ll be less likely to fuck up all that good work as soon as the Turkey comes to town.
And if you’ve packed on the pounds over the Christmas period then why not blast that off in the first two weeks of the New Year? Most people use the start of the year as an opportunity to make a resolution they fail to keep for longer than 2 weeks anyway – so pick an approach that gets you back on track and only takes 2 weeks in the first place!
Living Tribal has a free 2 week fat loss book that’s all online (with no signup required). It uses the protein sparing modified fast approach, so is quite a good option for body building/strength training enthusiasts that are looking to maintain as much muscle as possible whilst losing fat.
Whichever of the approaches you choose, have a fantastic time over the holiday period and good luck with your goals.
Let me know your favorite tips for avoiding fat gain in the comment section below!