Battling those Holiday Pounds!
Studies show the average weight gain around this time of year among those who are weight conscious is five to ten pounds. Those who are not concerned about weight could gain a whole lot more. So what’s the answer? Avoid all the delicious, good food surrounding the various holidays this time of year. Dramatically cut back on everything else. If this was the answer, the holiday weight gain statistic would not exist. Forgo the food connected with our holiday celebrations and you might as well skip the whole holiday season. Since becoming a hermit is not the healthy answer for weight and body composition maintenance, we must find another answer.
That solution, in a nut shell (pardon the pun) is variety and moderation. Specifically, the number of meals you eat per day will definitely influence pending weight gain. Even the most meticulous calorie counters realize that they need a specific amount of calories per day. So they save up their calories for that one special meal. Have you every skipped breakfast or only had a light snack to eat before Thanksgiving? It seems to makes sense. If your limit your calories to 1,500 a day, why not in one delicious, holiday splurge. The problem with this calorie math is your body is only capable of processing food at a specific rate. For example: if a man is dying of dehydration, it will not benefit him to connect a fire hose to his mouth. The water just can get in that fast. Therefore, to be in energy balance, over the time it takes to consume a meal and the time it takes to digest and absorb that meal, we should be burning close to the same amount of calories. It is not the amount of calories we eat per day that matters but, the amount of calories and nutrients we consume per meal.
So how do we apply this to the holiday season. Don’t think your doing well by sleeping late, skipping meals, waiting for that one big meal. Don’t set your body up for laying in the couch, watching television while it attempts to process this breakfast-lunch-and-dinner-in-one. You’ve just lowered your daily calorie expenditure, increasing the chance that your body will store most of what your eating as fat.
Skipping meals and then exercising very hard, right before the big meal increases calories burned but, if you haven’t eaten very much since the night before, you could actually slow your metabolism, burning muscle. Exercise helps curb the appetite in some people but, actually increases it in most because of the temporary calorie deficit.
The right way: Your body likes routine. If you normally get up at a certain time, get up at that time. Try and eat as soon as you wake and eat breakfast, snacks and lunch like you normally would. If exercise is part of your routine, then keep it there. If it is not, this is not the day to start. Eating meals at the time you normally eat them will actually raise metabolism (compared to skipping) and give you nutrients and calories when your body needs them. This will reduce cravings and hunger before your holiday meal, especially if you have a snack or meal right before you get together. Don’t deny yourself the traditional holiday foods. Fighting to avoid them usually ends up in one or two melt downs that are worse than if you served yourself with various samples. The key is portion control and variety. A plate that has a little of everything is better than a plate that only has the biggest baked potato. Try and put a little of everything on your plate, even if you don’t particularly care for something. The more you try new and different foods, the more likely you are eating a balanced meal. Don’t use the biggest plate, either. Choose to fill a smaller plate or, when given a larger one, fill your plate out to the sides. Try not to stack food high. Keep it all the same level. If there is a boarder or pattern in the china, attempt to serve yourself within the lines. Be sure to get some protein, carbohydrate, vegetable and a little fat. Drink between eight and sixteen ounces of fluid with your meal, water being the first choice.
With a snack before, a full day of eating, routine exercise and a well balanced plate, we should all survive the holidays with little weight gain and a good taste of everything. Having a little of everything eases the pressure of trying to decide what to eat, satisfies your taste buds and balances your meal. Have fun with family and friends this holiday season but, not at the expense of growing out of those jeans around New Years resolution time. Good luck and God Bless!!
Jeff Kotterman is the recommended Sports Nutritionist for several fitness based businesses. He is an experienced instructor whose research has benefited the health of thousands clients. If you have questions or would like a program developed specifically for you call (858) 694-0317, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.trisystem.com