Staying Lean During The Holidays
It's that time of year again. There will be more food, more lazy days, and yes...even more food. The holidays can be very overwhelming for those that have spent weeks, months, even years of investment on their health and physique. Temptation is everywhere and it can get difficult trying to find ways to maintain what you have spent so long attaining. Is skipping the holidays the answer? ABSOLUTELY NOT! If you expected this article to state that you should skip the holiday meals, guess again. Rather, in this article I cover the 5 best tips on how to stay lean during the holidays while enjoying your holiday meals.
1. Fill Up First
The biggest mistake I see people make before a holiday meal is starving themselves (or "going on a fast" to justify their choice) then binge eating during the biggest meal of the day. What's wrong with this is your body's ability to detect it being full. During a binge eating session, you literally eat more food faster. When you eat fast, your body does not have the time to register how full of nutrients and calories it really is. By the time your body has signaled to the brain it is time to stop consuming calories, the amount of damage already done could be severe. In order to combat this, you can eat something high in volume but low in calories (like vegetables) first. What this does is "pre-fill" your stomach to which gives your body a head-start on signaling the body it needs to stop consuming calories (or at least only consume very minimal). This way even if you pick your favorite food, the amount you would be able to eat would be very minor compared to the meal you would have had after being "fasted".
2. Eat Slow
Much like the previous tip, eating slow improves your body's ability to signal you that it is full. This way, you only consume the amount of calories your body actually needs. Eating slow not only allows you to do less damage to your body, it also lets you actually savor and appreciate the food (go figure).
I know I know. Everyone wants the most "bad" food choices during the holidays. The biggest reason for this is the taste of these food choices. What we do not realize is there are amazing alternatives to the foods we love. An example would be having ham for the holidays, and substituting turkey for the ham. Turkey is a much leaner source of protein, which means you can consume more of it for less calories than ham. These are small changes that can make a huge difference in the damage done during the holidays.
4. Protein First
Protein, protein, and more protein. Protein is one of the macronutrients that will fill you up the most without much damage done. Fats have a whopping 9 calories per gram and are the easiest macronutrient to consume without feeling full. Carbohydrates are much more filling than fats and have only 4 calories per gram, but are usually very high in grams in order to give you that filling feeling. It is not rare to find small carbohydrate sources with 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates that hardly fill you up. Protein on the other hand only have 4 calories per gram, is very filling, and most sources have 20 grams of protein per serving. Not to mention, protein helps your body repair and recover.
5. Be Polite
Last but not least, just be polite. Wait for everyone to consume their first plate before going for another plate. This allows you to not only impress the family (hardly anyone waits for everyone anymore), but also helps you with tip number 2. You should also portion out various foods, rather than a lot of one type of food. This allows everyone to get some of everything and allows you to get the nutrients from various food sources. Being polite can not only benefit the family, but also yourself.
Staying lean during the holidays does not mean you have to deprive yourself of food or starve and binge. Staying lean during the holidays means you make good choice on how you consume the food. Have a great holiday with your families, be polite, and be thankful for the food you have. You can stay lean during the holidays by filling up first, eating slow, substituting for better choices, consuming your protein first, and most importantly being polite. Who said you couldn't have your cake and eat it too.