The storm is coming.Pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes with extra gravy, an endless supply of chocolates, and of course, the cookies. So many cookies. Oh yes, the storm of holiday treats is coming, and with it usually comes a huge helping of guilt (from overeating) or envy (from not eating all you wanted while watching others do so) for those trying to stay in shape. But what if you didn’t have to feel guilty or envious? What if you could indulge AND do so in a way that didn’t tank your fitness plan? It seems impossible, but it can be done.
Cut your carbs.Most of the amazing treats that magically appear like Santa’s presents are often chock full of carbs (especially sugar, which only makes them worse). And few things can pack on the pounds and set you back like an unnecessary overload of carbs... The great thing about carbs is you can use them as an asset. Days before a big holiday meal, start cutting your carbs. Around a ½ g of carbs per pound of body weight for the first few days, and then ¼ g per pound in the days right before. Doing so will slow down your metabolism, and you’ll actually NEED the holiday carbs to kick-start your metabolism back into high gear and even help you burn calories better post-feast.
Get in a good workout.Every good workout needs an excellent post-workout meal. And if you know you’re about to have one of the best meals of the year, then take advantage of it by putting together one of your best workouts ahead of it. This is no time to half-ass it. Instead, put together a solid, intense workout geared toward your fitness goals. If you’re bulking up, do plenty of supersets and max lifts, with little rest in between to truly blow up your muscles. If it’s weight loss, drench yourself in sweat with HIIT workouts or go for your longest run of the year. The goal is to truly burn out those muscles because you’ll know you’ll have the extra calories to repair them coming later that day.
Pick the right indulgences.Look, it’d be great if you could sit down and eat an entire pan of holiday cookies and follow it up with a whole apple pie and have zero repercussions. But, unfortunately, that’s just not reality. So, while following the previous two steps will allow you the opportunity to indulge, you’re still going to want to do so in an intelligent way. By that, I mean portion control and selection. Instead of eating the entire tray of cookies, have one or two, and then cut yourself a small slice of apple pie. Enjoy the mashed potatoes and gravy, but try to make sure you eat more meats than carbs. Basically, you know what is and isn’t healthy for you (and are also the tastiest), so pick and choose which are most important to you. Then, don’t hold yourself back from eating them, but do so in an intelligent, controlled way. Do all that, and you’ll ride out the storm with ease, and you may even be better off.
And remember, what you eat on the holidays is not nearly as important as what you eat in between them!
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