Avoiding food during the holidays is criminal. I’ll show you how to stuff your face and not your waist during the holiday season.
The next 8 weeks are my favorite of the year. The mornings are peaceful, football teams are gearing up for the playoffs, the holiday cheer is all around but most importantly I get to stuff my face with glorious food – and lots of it.
The holidays are not a time to be on a diet. There is too much sugary goodness to be eaten. But that also leads to people falling off the diet wagon and then getting run over by it, multiple times.
This leads to a feeling a helplessness in dieting and saying “The hell with it, I’ll start again at New Years.”
Rather than going to buy a bigger pants size let’s put some things in place so you can go H.A.M. on the holidays and not gain weight.
I’ve used this protocol for years during the holidays and right before vacations and have never gained more than a pound coming back – a pound which I lost after a nice cup of coffee the week after.
I love food and there is no way in hell I’m missing out when I get it once a year or traveling to a new place. I truly am a fat kid at heart.
Call the Army, I’m going to be dropping knowledge bombs everywhere!
THE STUFF YOUR FACE AND NOT YOUR WAIST PROTOCOL
AIM FOR A DEFICIT:
The first and most important thing to do the week prior to the holiday or vacation is to eat below the amount of calories you need to maintain your weight. To simplify things, multiply your weight by 11. That’s how many calories to eat each day.
This will put you in what’s called in bodybuilding circles as a calorie deficit. You are taking in less calories than you need.
I usually do this the week of the holiday or if I’m going on vacation for a week, I’ll extend it to the 2 weeks prior to leaving. So for Thanksgiving, I’ll start this on the Monday of Thanksgiving week.
This works based on a little hormone called leptin. Leptin regulates your metabolic rate aka the rate your burn calories. When you are on a low calorie diet, leptin production slows down and in turn slows down your metabolic rate.
But here is the kicker, when you go from low calorie (the week before) to a high calorie day like Thanksgiving, then leptin production goes into overdrive and you use more of the calories as fuel rather than the extra layer of fat on your hips or belly.
Just the tip: If you’ve been dieting for a while and haven’t seen the scale move at all then eat high calorie for a week. This will boost your leptin production and get you in fat burning mode again. High calorie does not mean high shit food. Keep it clean.
If I know I’m going to crush cookies and pastries on Thanksgiving, I’m not going to waste my time on crap beforehand. I’ll eat clean the week before.
That means strictly protein and veggies. I’m not a big bread/pasta/rice person but if you can fit it into your daily calories then go for it. The main thing is to eat healthy the week before with the thoughts of all the glorious carbs and fats you’ll eat in a few days.
This is a matter of minimizing damage and keeping your eye on the prize. The prize being one day of all out food. No alcohol consumption the week before either ya damn drunk.
This step is optional but highly, highly encouraged. Exercising will add to the calorie deficit plus eating low calorie your muscles will be starving for some nutrients. So more of the calories you eat in your splurge will get shuttled to the muscles to fill the glycogen stores.
We’ve finally made it to Thanksgiving, here is what you need to do.
EAT LIGHT OR DO IF:
If you plan of going crazy at lunch or dinner, eat light beforehand. This is like slowly ramping up for a night out.
Are you going to double fist two beers and pound back shots before going out? No, you pace yourself and hit it hard when you’re out. You’d black out way before even getting to the car. Same thinking applies to holidays/cookouts.
Eat a light breakfast, something like a protein shake with a little cinnamon added or a couple of eggs. Get some protein in your system to help you stave off hunger until you crush your big meal.
Or you could do Intermittent Fasting and have your big meal be your first meal. Either way we are still minimizing the damage and limiting the amount of calories we consume that day.
Take 1-2 meals and go nuts. For me that’s usually a big 1-2 serving Thanksgiving dinner and then hitting the desert table a few hours later. Don’t hold back and just go for it. Most of the time you’re eating food you get once a year, enjoy it. Your Pilgrim ancestors would be happy you did.
Avoid snacking throughout the day to again minimize the damage. Plus, snacking robs you of your appetite to the carb loaded goodness that you have been so looking forward to.
Don’t think about tomorrow eat what you want for those 1-2 meals. This is a truly YOLO moment. Guilt leads to regret. Don’t regret, just enjoy.
I’d be missing a huge piece if I didn’t talk about alcohol consumption during the holidays. Which is fine… with a certain condition.
Drink when there is no food around. Especially snacking food.
You no doubt did some regrettable things drinking, so you know that it inhibits the strongest willed of people. There is a reason fast food is open late. Drunk people love food. Curb your fat gains and either drink or eat. Not both at the same time.
WORK THE LEGS:
This is another optional suggestion but highly recommended to minimize damage. Most gyms are open for a few hours on holidays. Go and work your legs. The legs hold the largest muscles in the body and by working them out they will be starved for nutrients to repair. Translation: More calories burned.
Even better would be to do a full body workout so your whole body is starving for nutrients.
I’m not going to say cardio would be a waste of time but it wouldn’t be the highest leveraging thing you could do. Stick to lifting and if you must, do some cardio after.
DON’T WEIGH YOURSELF YET:
To keep you in a positive mindset, stay off the scale for at least 4 days post indulgence. Your dealing with a lot of added water weight and not to be gross – you’re also full of shit. Give your body time to process everything and get back to your actual weight.
Weighing yourself too soon might put you in a bad mindset thinking you are worse off than before. But you know being an avid Aesthetic Physiques reader that it’s only temporary and to continue to trust the process.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER:
Chances are the food you ate was high in carbs and sodium. This combination equals higher than usual water retention and added weight to the scale. So aim for a gallon of water a day for the next few days.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the word gallon, it’s only 128 oz or 7 ½ 16.9 oz water bottles. Space that out over the 16 hours you’re up a day and it’s only a bottle every 2 hours. Perfectly doable.
Water acts as a diuretic, meaning the more you drink, the more you pee. It came as a surprise to me too. So by drinking this much water it will help flush all the extra water you are holding onto out.
Chances are this probably won’t be too hard. You over indulged in cookies and cakes and now you feel like Peter.
Stick to the diet you were on the week prior to the pig out and you are Aces with a Z-snap.
You have a surplus of calories in your system and you’re worried about getting fat. Hit the gym to put those calories to good use. Full body workouts will help turn those calories just floating around in your body to hard earned muscle. It’s either that of around your waste you decide.
Applying these “rules”, “tips” whatever you care to call them to your holiday season will help be a step ahead of your New Year’s Resolution. Don’t put yourself in a deep hole by gaining extra weight or worse, miss out on the glorious food that needs to be eaten this holiday season.
Be smart and minimize the damage you do and you’ll be fine.
Now it’s your turn:
What foods are you looking forward to must in the next couple of weeks?
Do you have any tips/tricks/hacks to help you keep the scale at a reasonable number?
If you know someone who could benefit from this article, please share it on Facebook or Twitter. 2 out of 3 people are obese today, let’s start a change.