Overeating and overdrinking on Turkey Day are inevitable. Even if you’re one of “The Good Ones”, chances are – you still overindulged form your daily routine. In this article I will try to provide a few helpful tips that will make indulging—and recovering from the Holidays a bit easier.
Look, I know full well that you probably won’t be eating perfectly healthy between now and New Year’s. Don’t worry about it—enjoy the holidays. But know this: What you do from now until then will determine your level of success in the months to come.
Everyone uses the New Year to get their body’s health and mind back on track. Unfortunately, the devastation that occurs beginning with Halloween and ending on December 31st keeps them from achieving their goal. Thanksgiving certainly marks the beginning of a five-week period of holiday parties and other festive social events that consist of food and drinks to excess. It’s enough to make you want to throw your hands up and completely write off the whole month of December — Don’t!
Truth: There’s no silver bullet to recovering from the gastronomic onslaught that is the last quarter of the year. But by adopting some of the small and manageable changes below, you can feel slimmer, rev your metabolism, tackle the rest of the holiday season mindfully and ring in the New Year feeling good about your health-and-fitness goals for 2016.
Don’t Waste Your Will Power
Researchers have proven that we only have so much willpower each day. In fact, you can actually run out of it. So, make sure that you choose wisely. If you simply try to will yourself to eat nothing, you will fail miserably. This means if you say “No” enough times in the day, when you run inevitably run out of energy, you will cave-in to Mrs. Mary’s pumpkin pie.
But by allowing yourself to choose to eat more, you eliminate most of the energy you waste on resisting food, so you can use it to make higher quality food choices instead of eating whatever is in front of you after your willpower fails.
So rather than simply saying “No”, choose to have a bite or two, but that’s it. The net effect will be saving your willpower and avoiding unnecessary binging.
Lift Yourself Up
The best way to counteract extra caloric consumption is to build muscle. If you have not been doing so already- start lifting weights. No time for the gym? Body weight resistance exercise is free and accessbile anytime of the day. My personal rule for lifting weights is to always perform air squats or push-ups on day’s that I don’t get to work out. So starting today, if you don’t get to work out or exercise, perform push-ups and standing squats until you’re tired. These two exercises are all you need to challenge every major muscle group in your body. The more muscle you can pack on, the faster you’ll be burning the extra food energy you consume over the holiday season.
Add Some Green Tea
Green tea has a special way of rebalancing your taste buds. In a recent 12-week study, participants who drank 4 to 5 cups of green tea daily, then did a 25-minute workout, lost an average of two more pounds and more belly fat than the non tea-drinking exercisers.
Why? The brew contains catechins, a type of antioxidant that triggers the release of fat from fat cells and helps speed the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy. They also found that catechins suppress hunger and appetite and resulted in better decision making when it came to food choices.
Get Hammered, but with Good Stuff
Alcohol is a part of the Holidays. It’s no exception for me either. That said, avoiding alcohol altogether is a sure way to lose weight and improve health. What few people know is that the type of alcohol you drink has a big impact on how you look and feel the next day. It turns out that unfiltered alcohol, like beer, contains many substances that trigger inflammation and obliterate metabolism.
Red wine is the second worst from a toxic perspective. Unfiltered fermented grapes make ochratoxin-A, a neurotoxic, carcinogenic, immunosuppressive compound. It is a known problem in wine. Your body will filter it out, but it comes at a cost to your recovery. The days following wine consumption be on the lookout for dark circles under your eyes, bigger love handles, and a crappy brain.
My recommendation for the booze is to go for distilled, filtered spirits. The cleanest being potato vodka, but tequila also works.
Increase Protein Intake
If you want to lose weight, boost your metabolism or increase muscle production you need protein. Higher intake of protein is linked to stable blood-sugar levels and appetite suppression. In fact, protein has a much higher thermic effect (20-35%) than fat or carbs (5-15%). A high protein intake has been shown to significantly boost metabolism and increase the number of calories you burn. This can amount to 80 to 100 more calories burned each day.
One study on protein during overfeeding found that a high protein group burned 260 more calories per day than a low-protein group. This is equivalent to an hour of moderate-intensity exercise per day!
Stop Eating So Late
Turn winter’s short days into an advantage by using the last bit of sunlight as a cue to stop eating. This may help you lose more weight, even if you eat more food throughout the day, according to a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
Researchers put groups of mice on a high-fat, high-calorie diet for 100 days. Half of them were allowed to nibble throughout the night and day on a healthy, controlled diet, while the others only had access to food for eight hours but could eat whatever they wanted. The result of the 16-hour food ban? The fasting mice stayed lean, while the mice who noshed ‘round the clock became obese—even though both groups consumed the same amount of calories!
Push back breakfast until 10 am to slim down, and reset your body by not eating so late or limiting your food intake to just a few hours.
Let Winter In
A study published in the journal Diabetes suggests that allowing the cold winter into your home may help attack belly fat while sleeping. Colder temperatures enhance the effectiveness of our stores of brown fat — a type of fat that keeps you warm by burning through the fat stored in your belly. Participants spent a few weeks sleeping in bedrooms with varying temperatures: a neutral 75 degrees, a cool 66 degrees, and a balmy 81 degrees. After four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the subjects had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat. This means they lost more belly fat than the group with warmer temperatures.
Stay Away from Fruit Juices
Fruit juice is just as bad for you as soda. When you sit down to drink an 8-ounce glass of orange juice, you’re consuming the juice of four medium-sized oranges in just seconds. Worse, you get little to no fiber which causes the sugar to rush into your blood stream impacting powerful fat fighting hormones.
Fruit juice is so dangerous because of fructose. In June 2014, a study published in the journal Nutrition found that the average fruit juice’s fructose concentration is 45.5 grams per liter. For soda, it’s 50 grams.
Our bodies aren’t designed to deal with that type of fructose overload. While glucose serves as a fuel for our body, fructose is processed almost exclusively in the liver, where it’s converted to fat.
So during the holidays when you’re sure to get extra fructose and calories, skip the juice!
Eat Something Whole, Every Meal
One way to do your body a solid is to add a piece of whole fruit or vegetable to every meal. Starting your meal with a crisp, refreshing piece of fruit or vegetables (superfoods) is a way to boost antioxidant levels in your body. Antioxidants will help to reverse the damage of all the other bad crap you’re likely to be putting in.
This is a simple and powerful way to balance out those moments. My suggestion, carry around an apple, baby carrots or cut up red and yellow peppers to snack on before eating. Apples boast the powerful antioxidant quercetin and vitamins C and B-6, which keep your cholesterol levels low and slash your risk for heart disease. But thanks to their high fiber count, an apple a day can do more than keep the doctor away — it can help you trim down during the holidays too.
Drink More Water
This should go without saying. But do it!
Seriously. Stop reading this and go drink some water. Most of us know that we need to drink water during workouts to stay hydrated, but many of us overlook the importance of sipping water throughout the day. Thirst can often be mistaken for hunger, so regularly drinking water can keep excess calories off of your holiday plate— and, more importantly, out of your mouth. Also, the extra sodium we eat during holiday meals will cause more water retention and belly bloat. You can flush it out with more water!
Did this information help you to understand more about surviving the Holidays?
Do you plan on improving your health at the start of the year?
Share your opinion in the comments or email me!