Santa might be a chubby fellow, but that doesn’t mean you have to be too! The holiday season is a time for eating, drinking, and relaxing, but too much can soon lead to weight gain.
That’s why the most common New Year’s resolution is weight loss. Use these TEN tips to help you avoid weight gain this holiday season or, at the very least, keep it to a minimum!
1. NEVER ARRIVE HUNGRY
Eating out more is a common cause of weight gain. The foods on offer probably won’t be very diet-friendly, and eating too much will definitely lead to weight gain. If you are going out to eat, or going to a party where food is going to be freely available, make sure you don’t arrive feeling hungry. That way you’ll be less likely to give in to temptation and overeat.
2. GO EASY ON THE ALCOHOL
Alcohol is a triple threat when it comes to weight gain. For starters, alcoholic drinks contain a lot of calories. Also, alcohol can lower your willpower so that you are less able to resist the temptation of unhealthy food. Finally, alcohol can stimulate your appetite. These factors combine to make alcohol very diet-unfriendly.
Go easy on the booze if you are serious about avoiding weight gain. Limit yourself to just a couple of drinks. Unable to resist temptation? Offer to be the designated driver so you won’t be able to drink alcohol at all.
3. INCREASE INSULIN SENSITIVITY WITH A PRE-EATING WORKOUT
If you know you have a big meal coming up, you can reduce its weight gain potential by exercising an hour or so beforehand. A demanding workout prior to eating will deplete your glycogen stores and increase insulin sensitivity so that more of the food you consume will be preferentially shunted into your liver and muscle cells.
The best type of workout for glycogen depletion and increased insulin sensitivity is full-body strength training, especially when performed as a circuit. However, even a full bodyweight workout or interval training session will get the job done.
4. BORE YOUR TASTE BUDS
The more tastes your meal contains, the more you are likely to eat. That’s why it’s so easy to eat loads when you go to an all you can eat buffet; you can hop from one dish to another and keep on eating long after you are full.
However, research suggests that once your taste buds are bored, you’ll feel satiated sooner. To make the most of this phenomenon, try to eat more similar tasting dishes e.g. a chicken appetizer and a chicken main course. You should find that you are soon all “chickened out” and won’t want to eat as much. You may find it hard to track down a chicken-flavored dessert though!
5. WALK IT OFF
The gym might be closed, and you are probably looking forward to a break from exercising anyway, but you can still minimize weight gain by staying active. Walking is the perfect non-exercise solution. Try and clock up around 10,000 steps per day to burn those extra calories, maintain your fitness, and reduce fat gain. Use that new activity tracker you got for Christmas!
6. VEG OUT
No, that doesn’t mean passing out in front of the TV in a junk-food coma! Instead, make sure you fill your plate with lots of low-calorie vegetables before you add higher calorie foods. That way, and without resorting to calorie counting, you’ll be able to reduce the calorie content of your meals.
7. DOWNSIZE YOUR PLATE
You can trick yourself into eating less by serving your food on a smaller than normal plate. This will make your meals look bigger than they really are, and that will help you feel fuller despite eating less food. The bigger the plate, the bigger your meal is likely to be, and the more you will eat. But, with a smaller plate, even if you load it to the max, you’ll still end up with a relatively small meal.
8. IT’S OKAY TO SAY YOU ARE FULL
Eating during the holidays often means dining with friends and relatives who seem determined to feed you until you burst! Honestly, it IS a sign they love you! However, don’t feel that you have to eat every morsel of food placed in front of you. Just explain you are feeling full and you don’t want to eat anything else to eat.
9. TAKE A BREAK BETWEEN COURSES
Despite only being less than a meter apart, your brain and stomach are awfully slow communicators. It can take as long as 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it’s full, and that provides a lengthy window during which you can overeat.
Get around this problem by always taking a break between courses. That will give the sensations of satiety time to make it from your stomach to your brain. Doing this may be enough to stop you from having another course, revisiting the buffet, or having a dessert.
10. PRACTICE GOOD NUTRITION THE REST OF THE TIME
If you know you have a big meal coming your way, make sure the rest of your meals for that day are as nutritionally sensible as possible. Load up on healthy foods such as fruit and veggies, and make sure you consume adequate protein too. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean your entire diet has to fall apart. Instead, and to minimize the damage of overheating, make sure all your other meals are as healthy and balanced as they can be.
Weight gain is not compulsory during the holidays. After all, the festive season is only really a few days out of the year. Keep yourself on track, and avoid gaining weight, by putting these ten tips into action.
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