The proof may be in the pudding, but there’s a whole load of fat in it too — especially around Christmas time when everybody has extra portions, and then some more.
After all, Christmas is all about food and family right?
Well — yes of course, but what about all that progress you’ve made with your training? The average person gains around 5lbs of fat over the festive period, and it takes a lot longer to lose that 5lbs, so does that mean Christmas is out? Nah — of course not. It just needs tweaking a little.
The week before Christmas — avoiding the flab pantry
Now you don’t need to become Ebenezer Scrooge at Christmas time and avoid all the fun, food and frolics — but if you’re going to indulge and eat a bit more than normal, then step back and adapt your eating habits leading up to feasts.
Avoid packing on the pounds by eating a low carbohydrate diet leading up to Christmas. This will deplete the carbohydrate stores in your muscles, so when you do tuck into Christmas meals, the high carb intake will go straight back to filling up muscle glycogen stores rather than building a flab pantry around your waist.
Hatch a plan to conquer Christmas
If you’re serious about training, then you will already have an understanding of how many calories you’re using up during training and how many whey protein shakes and how much carbohydrate you require to maximize your muscle gain. So if you’re going to eat a bit more for a couple of days over Christmas, then calculate a revised calorie master plan for keeping trim and conquering the threat of a fat Christmas.
Avoid extremes such as starving yourself before the showpiece Christmas dinner and then demolishing everything resembling food within 5 yards due to an overwhelming hunger.
Starvation is bad and your body will start eating its own muscle, so simply eat all of your normal meals (just lower their calorie content by going for leaner meats and more vegetables and drink more water to keep you feeling full). Work out your calorie intake over a 3-4 week period and rebalance where necessary.
To train or not to train — say hello to cardio
It is tempting to take some time off with training during Christmas — everybody else is chilling out after all — but your decision needs to be carefully considered as part of a long term training strategy. It’s easy to lose your rhythm, pile on a few pounds and struggle to regain your motivation in the new year.
With the increased calories you’re consuming, if you want to avoid getting fat, then you need to keep up some sort of training routine. If you’ve had a tough year and need a rest, then you could lay off the weights for a couple of weeks. But rather than doing nothing, our advice is to step up your cardio work instead — swimming, jogging or a long walk will increase your heart rate and keep your feeling energized and motivated.
Cardio is also your best weapon for burning off any fat and keeping the stomach trim, so either step up your cardio work or add it to your routine over Christmas.
This one is a tricky one — especially when you’re sitting at a table piled high with mouthwatering delights only seen once a year. So the fine line is as follows — tuck in and enjoy Christmas as you’ve earned it, but don’t overdo it by going mad with crazy portions, fatty desserts and booze.
Pace yourself and eat slowly. The brain is slow to recognize when you are full, so don’t eat too fast and stop eating when you are full. If you’re going to pile up your plate, then pile it up mainly with the good stuff like vegetables and try to avoid the fatty stuff like sauces and desserts.
And resist the booze — a tipple is fine, but heavy drinking is a big no-no as it’s high in calories and will leave you feeling dehydrated and low on energy the next day, which isn’t going to help with training.
Avoiding the stress monster
There is an underlying pressure for Christmas to be a happy, joyous period where families get on just fine. The reality can be different and it’s prime time for family arguments and stress. Stress is bad news due to its various side effects.
The body to release stress hormones, which burn lots of energy and a stressed body is more inclined to pack on fat, so you need to keep cool and that’s all about the planning.
1. Buying presents
Preparing for Christmas should be done well in advance — preorder presents and food items and use the Internet to figure out what to buy for people so you’re not rushing around in packed shopping centres on Christmas Eve.
Don’t fret about Christmas dinner being a calorie overload — either cook it yourself or talk to the person who is cooking and explain that you need to avoid the fatty cuts due to your training routine.
It’s usually for batteries that you have to rush out on Boxing Day, so keep cool, and take a protein bar or snack with you just in case you hit any traffic jams. Sitting in a car queue starving is pretty much guaranteed stress.
Christmas can be a lazy time and many of us get too comfy in front of the television and don’t really move until January. Suggest getting some fresh air with a family walk somewhere — get the energy levels firing, burn off a few calories and work up an appetite.