Studies show that people who are health conscious and exercise regularly still gain weight over Christmas. This got me thinking, how can I create a strategy so you can lose weight and still enjoy Christmas? Well, here it is:
The festive season is upon us, and according to various studies, we can expect to consume 2-3x more calories during December than in any other month. So if you're on a health, fitness and weight loss journey, then you're about to move into the danger zone and potentially destroy a couple of months of hard work already done.
You might not be on a weight loss journey, but you certainly want to avoid gaining any more weight this Christmas.
We still want to enjoy the Christmas period, spend some time with our families, and indulge in foods we typically don't eat. Of course, you can still do that, but by following this 6-step strategy, you can still maintain or lose weight over this period whilst enjoying yourself. Here's how:
The calorie car crash starts with the 'fu<k it, it's Christmas' mindset during the festive season. This opens the gateway to consuming ANYTHING you want with the magical get out of jail free card of 'it's Christmas, I'm enjoying myself, I'll worry about the calories in January'.
This is a BIG mistake. Generally speaking, to gain 1lb of fat, you'll need to consume approximately 3500 calories more than what you expend. The average person will burn 1800 calories a day, and if you throw in a vigorous 1-hour workout and or general movement, then a rough average would be 2300 calories a day. If this sounds like a lot, then I'm afraid you're in for some harsh news.
According to the Office of National Statistics, the average person in the UK will consume 2750 calories a day. This means that most people are slowly gaining weight over the year; when it comes to Christmas, and the consumption of calories shoots up, you are metaphorically throwing petrol on the fire that's already getting out of control.
Back to your mindset – With this information in mind, maybe you want to STOP thinking that overindulgence is OK at this time of year because, in reality, you're gaining more weight faster!
Start thinking about embracing the joy of Christmas but refrain from eating mince pies from 9am and look to control your indulgence. Think about it, you're still going to indulge, but you're simply restraining that indulgence. So stop the mindless consumption and start controlling your excess!
I'm a big fan of practising Intermittent Fasting with all my Home and Online Personal Training Clients due to several benefits outside of weight loss. If you want to know more details on How to Use 16/8 Intermittent Fasting, click here.
I will spare you all the details of the benefits of intermittent fasting and get straight to why this is an excellent tool for you to use starting from 1st December.
Extending the period of not eating is a great way to control your indulgence. For example, if you keep to the rule of no food before 1pm and consume your last calorie at 9pm (latest) that evening then, you're controlling your calorific consumption well.
If you only have a smaller window to eat (8 hours), it becomes a little harder to overeat as 2 substantial meals will keep you full during your feeding window.
Obviously, what you eat at this time is a crucial factor, too, covered in point 5, but keeping a rigid pattern of when you eat will place you in a powerful position. This will work well for you but, the real power comes from combining all the points I've set up for you in this blog.
As a Personal Trainer in Liverpool and Wirral, I’m obviously always going to advocate exercise. Doing some form of exercise, which can be anything you choose so long as you are moving for 1 hour a day, will have many benefits. Moving your body at an easy to moderate intensity for an hour will burn approximately 350 calories from a calorie perspective.
Keeping active will help you feel good; feeling good will help you want to maintain good health. The psychological benefit here is, you feel/think less inclined to treat your body like a trash can.
Along with this good feeling, now consider the total amount of calories burned over December. 350 calories a day for 30 days (excluding Christmas day) is a whopping 10,500 calories burned or approximately 3lbs of fat.
This method alone will shift the additional fat you'd otherwise gain this month. Make the exercise easy; you don't have to kill yourself. Moderate intensity for 1 hour is enough. If you were to do a power walk for this amount of time, that would hit the mark.
The beauty to this is, you don't have to go to a gym, run for miles or do CrossFit every day to make a significant difference. So if you're already a big gym bunny or keen runner, then fill your boots, but get walking for everyone else!
I know; I love Baileys Irish Cream too! But did you know, a household measure of Baileys is the equivalent of a Big Mac? When I’m monitoring my online personal training clients food intake through my mobile app, I push forward this point of how impactful coffee liqueurs are. Because they know I’m tracking their every move, this normally keeps them away from the stuff allowing them to lose weight during this period.
Don't be fooled by the serving guide on the bottle. A shot of Baileys is 37ml which is 130 calories which, may sound pretty reasonable. But, here's the real bad news! 37ml is about the same amount of milk most people have in a cup of tea.
One pint equals 568ml (just over half a litre). Therefore, just one pint of Baileys equals a staggering 2000 calories!
Now, during an evening when the Baileys makes an appearance, think about how much you would consume. You are likely to consume a quarter of a pint in glass, or if you're a big Baileys drinker, this might be half of a pint.
So, to keep in mind if you do decide to hit the Coffee Liqueurs, just one glass is at least a big mac. So, my advice, put down the Baileys and pick up the Gin.
This links well with intermittent fasting. During your 8-hour eating window, aim to eat foods that keep you full for longer. Consuming high protein meals will work very well, so eating plenty of meat and vegetables is an excellent choice.
High meat combined with vegetables such as potatoes and green cruciferous veg like broccoli will keep you full for a long time, and their calorie score is pretty low too.
Low-calorie intake but keeping full will significantly assist you when trying to control your indulgence, so try eating a high protein meal twice a day during your 8-hour window and watch how much easier it is to limit the excess… After that, you simply won't be able to face eating so much.
This may seem strange but, there's a clever method behind the madness. Firstly, drinking cold water will boost your thermoregulation, meaning your body will have to expend more energy to generate heat. So, yes, you will burn calories by drinking cold water and drinking up to 2-3 litres will burn approximately 100-150 calories.
If you want to geek out and read the study, then click here.
When combining this with your intermittent fast strategy, you will not feel hungry in the morning as you've got plenty of water to drink, keeping the hunger away.
Along with keeping hunger at bay in the morning, drinking water will help detoxify your body and help you feel energised. You'll be amazed how much an impact on your energy levels hydrating your body well has.
Thinking about this from a calorie perspective again through December, this would be an additional 3000-3500 calories burned from simply drinking cold water.
By following this 6-Step strategy this Christmas, you will burn at least 13,000 calories or approx 4lbs of fat that you would have otherwise not done so. Doing this will keep off any additional weight gain or, you'll lose weight depending on how far you go with this. Regardless, this strategy will help you stay in great shape whilst also enjoying the festive holidays.
Control your indulgence but enjoy your Christmas, my friend!