It doesn't matter if you're as disciplined as an angel, saint, soldier, or any other archetype you can think of; everyone has some form of a binge over Christmas!
And we've got two pieces of good news pertaining to this:
1. It's ok and totally acceptable!
2. We've got a plan to help you prevent some of the resulting fat gain
We know the deal when it comes to Christmas: there's always more calories than Christmas carols, and hardly anytime to go to the gym.
You learned recently in this previous workout meals blog, that going to the gym just 3 times per week for about 15 minutes is enough to keep your muscle gains.
"Science: How to preserve results by training less during the holidays, article here!)
So that's your gym covered when it comes to calories burned and muscle improvements kept.
But when it comes to eating, some simple planning ahead can do the world of good.
Eat these protein sources to help stay lean
Your best ever friend when it comes to weight loss isn't cardio, or "fat-burning" powders, but protein.
That's because it beats out fat and carbohydrates when it comes to keeping you full (1).
Also, because protein is worth just 4 calories per gram (fat contains 9 calories per gram!) it doesn't increase your daily calorie intake as fast (2).
But there's another reason protein is your ally.
Every time you eat protein (for example, a chicken breast), your body expends 30% of the calories from it in the digestion process. So, if your aforementioned chicken breast has 100 calories from protein, you only absorb 70 calories (3).
And protein wins this race by a mile. For fat, that percentage is just 0-3%, and only 5-10% for carbohydrates (3).
So that's the ironclad case for protein.
But, not all protein sources are created equal. This Christmas, you have to really get this one right!
Here are the lean options you'll need to consume:
- Barramundi or canned tuna
- Whey protein powder
- Chicken breast
- Egg whites
- Beef jerky
Ok, let's fit this into a real-world example.
Let's say it's Christmas eve, and you know that tomorrow you won't be holding back on the Christmas treats. This is the plan of attack:
1. You complete your workout as usual
2. Consume LIMITED fat and carbohydrates and focus only on the aforementioned lean protein sources
3. You eat plenty of green vegetables because the fiber will help you stay full (4-6).
Shoot for about 50 grams of carbohydrates and fats on these days, which is ultra-low.
That's 2 and a half slices of bread, or 5 pikelets, or 2 bananas, to give you an indication.
As far as fat content goes, 50 grams is the same as about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, or 2 avocados.
The point of this is to save as many calories for Christmas the following day, as your intake of calories (either more than you burn or less) is more critical at the end of a given week, as opposed to a day to day basis (7).
So a sample day eating for Christmas eve could be:
Breakfast: Whey protein powder, black coffee (splash of milk if you like). One banana.
Lunch: Chicken/Kangaroo/ barramundi or canned tuna with 1 cup of spinach and one avocado.
Post-workout/Dinner: Chicken/Kangaroo/ barramundi with a tablespoon of olive oil and a quarter of an avocado. Two slices of bread.
Before bed: One whey protein shake.
Tip: Change the order as much as you like!
IMPORTANT: This is simply a sample day. It's suitable for men and women no more than 85 kilograms in weight. If your exercise regime includes lots of high-intensity cardio and weights, you'll need about 70 grams of carbohydrates at least.
For those of you over 85 kilograms, you could boost your carbohydrate intake to 90 grams, but the point is to find an intake that doesn't make you STARVE, but doesn't make you feel like you've overeaten.
Because we all know, you'll most likely be doing that tomorrow for Christmas!
Remember: These are just guidelines. You'll be able to workout the balance that works for you.
And you can employ this strategy on Boxing day too, and on any other days you know you might overeat (for example, prior to and/or after new years eve).
Sources of protein that are NOT low in fat, that are to be avoided in this context, include:
- Pork Belly
- Beef mince
- Ribeye steak
- Porterhouse steak
- T- Bone steak
- Fried chicken
Now of course, there is nothing wrong with these protein sources. Just keep an eye on the fat content so you don't go over your allocated daily suggestions here.
If we can help you chose some meals from our website to send you ahead of time, please mention his article when ordering, and we can help!
So we hope this strategy is as effective for you this Christmas as it has been historically for us. You've likely worked hard all year, and letting your hair down for a few days doesn't have to mean layers of unwanted fat!
Enjoy your holidays.
(1) Soenen S, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Proteins and satiety: implications for weight management. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2008;11:747–751. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328311a8c4.
(2) National Research Council (US) Committee on Diet and Health. Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1989. 6, Calories: Total Macronutrient Intake, Energy Expenditure, and Net Energy Stores. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.
(3) van Baak MA. Meal-induced activation of the sympathetic nervous system and its cardiovascular and thermogenic effects in man. Physiol Behav. 2008;94:178–86.
(4) Wilmshurst P., Crawley J. C. W. The measurement of gastric transit time in obese subjects using Na and the effects of energy content and guar gum on gastric emptying and satiety. British Journal of Nutrition. 2007;44(1):1–6. doi: 10.1079/bjn19800003.
(5) Holt S., Carter D., Tothill P., Heading R., Prescott L. Effect of gel fibre on gastric emptying and absorption of glucose and paracetamol. The Lancet. 1979;313(8117):636–639. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(79)91079-1.
(6) Sandhu K. S., El Samahi M. M., Mena I., Dooley C. P., Valenzuela J. E. Effect of pectin on gastric emptying and gastroduodenal motility in normal subjects. Gastroenterology. 1987;92(2):486–492. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(87)90146-6.
(7) Hall KD. What is the required energy deficit per unit weight loss?. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008;32(3):573-576. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803720