It’s the most wonderful time of the year
For many of us, Christmas is a time for friends, family and food indulgence. That time of the year when the top button gets popped on a regular basis to allow room for another mince pie. But hold on, you’ve been hitting the training hard and keeping your nutrition in check, all year up to this point. Don’t let it all be in vain! I’m Gareth Nicholas, Head Nutritionist at Maximuscle, let me help guide you through the festive season with a few hints and tips to beating the bulge at Christmas.
Don’t be the Grinch at Christmas
This time of year, I’m often asked about how you can enjoy Christmas but without piling on the pounds. That overused and abused phrase, that everything in moderation is thrown around and misquoted, in truth, it’s about balance. It would be easy for us to look through the calories, macros and indulgencies at Christmas and say, you should or should not have certain things, check out The Toll of Christmas Lunch, but ultimately, it’s your decision. Where and how does this Christmas splurge sit on your priority list and fit in with your goals?
Life is for living
Curbing the calories is a decision that only you can make. There’s no reason why we need to overdo it at Christmas, but many of us will, and many of us will justify the consequences. I often comment that celebrations and festivities, such as Christmas, Weddings, Birthday’s, should be the times when you allow a longer leash and let go a little, but that approach might not be for everyone.
In the gym, I frequently hear people protesting that they are training hard, so they can eat what they want. Don’t be fooled, this is a big fat myth. Of course, calories (energy) can be managed and balanced by energy in versus energy out, but that is not the only consideration. A gram of sugar has the same energy value as a gram of starch, or a gram of saturated (bad) fat has the same energy value as a gram of unsaturated (good) fat, but the utilisation and effect on the body is very different.
Sorry to take things down a notch, but this may partly explain why you sometimes hear that someone has had a heart attack despite being highly active and relatively lean. Unfortunately, we are unable to see the damage that a bad diet is doing internally, until it manifests itself into lifestyle conditions such as intolerances, diabetes, cardiac complications and potentially in cancers.
Christmas Tips to beating the bulge
- Just because it’s there, it doesn’t have to be eaten. Depending on your will power, you may have to implement some strict rules. Give friends and family food treats to leave with, that way it’s no longer in the house.
- Preparation and planning. Plan your Christmas nutrition. Note down any potential bumps in the road. Stick to shopping lists, rather than freestyling it at the supermarket. Add extra healthy snacks, such as fruits and nuts, rather than high sugary or fatty treats.
- Earn your treats. Go for family walks, a Christmas run or extra steps. Any form of exercise that will help balance the added calories.
- Make healthy treat alternatives. Why not try making some healthy alternatives. Try Beetroot brownies, create a Christmas protein Smoothie, Check out our high protein Loaded Mince Pies.
- Implement some food restrictions. If the Christmas cheer is just too much, why not set some restrictions, allow yourself cheat days, such as Christmas day and Boxing day, but then it’s back to the plan.
- Power through with Protein. Be even more conscious than normal of packing out the protein in your daily diet. This will help you stay away from the high sugary treats. Try to consume at least 56g of protein a day for men and 46g of protein for women. Here’s a protein challenge, try to consume 1g of protein for every 1-2kg of your body weight, on a daily basis. Why not slip a protein bar, bites or protein milk into your festive routine.
- Veg, Veg and more Veg. Christmas day dinner doesn’t have to be just turkey, potatoes and Yorkshire puddings. Fill your plate with a variety of vegetables. Extra points and smugness will be awarded for eating your sprouts.
Who are you kidding?
Face up to reality! The whole point of new year’s resolutions is to repair the damage that you have been doing in the lead up to and during the festive period; just try to do what you can. Your diet may slip but use that as fuel to get yourself back on track and balance the bad with the good. After this year, we definitely deserve to let go and enjoy Christmas, but just don’t go crazy. Eating badly, drinking alcohol, avoiding exercise might be your ideal of a holiday, but when the festivities are over, it’s back to work and the more you slip the more you’ll have to repair.
Whatever you decide, Have a very Merry Christmas from all of us at Maximuscle.