SAVVY FOOD SWAPS
Make smart food swaps to reduce the fat content in your meals, such as swapping goose fat on your roast potatoes with olive oil, and milk chocolate for dark chocolate varieties, which have high levels of antioxidants providing more benefits for the body. Choose nuts over crisps, and turkey or prawns over salami and sausages.
If you know that you’re going to be eating a lot of fat and carbs in the evening then make sure you eat high protein and low fat/carb foods throughout the day to keep your macros on track. Along with protein, high fibre and low caloric density foods like green veggies are a great way to stay feeling full without consuming loads of calories.
The body becomes more sensitive to the production of insulin about one to two hours following a rigorous exercise. This allows the protein and carbohydrates typically found in holiday dishes, such as turkey, potatoes, pie and cranberry sauce, to be absorbed by the body more efficiently. Going for a workout prior to eating a big meal also heightens the metabolism of the body, which would burn extra calories from holiday treats more effectively.
Squeeze in regular 45-60 minute workouts during the festive season. Try a circuit of low-rep exercises with little rest to keep the heart rate up to maximise fat burn, performing big, compound movements like squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses and press-ups to train larger or more muscle groups, which will burn more calories and boost metabolism.
If you only have five minutes to spare, hold a plank for as long as possible, and set yourself a daily press up challenge to beat the Christmas slump.
Plan meals and gym sessions in advance to ensure you stay on track – or to avoid from straying too far. Missing one or two workouts is not going to affect your progress.
Ensure your kitchen cupboards are stocked well so that you always have healthy food on hand, and start your day with high protein and low fat options so that during the evening after a fatty meal you wont feel as guilty. Sticking to a food plan or monitoring your intake will keep your macros in check, and stop you from overindulging on fats, sugar, and carbohydrates. Protein, more than other macro-nutrients, will help make you feel full, so opt for meals based around eggs, lean poultry/meat, fish, low fat yoghurt, or whey protein powder.
Water is needed to ensure that your body can function to its optimal level and keep any false senses of hunger at bay. Not only does it help you replenish lost fluids in your body, it also prevents hangovers from setting in after consuming a considerable amount of alcohol at parties. Keep a large bottle of water with you to sip and refill throughout the day to maintain a regular intake of water.
Make sure you limit ‘liquid calories’ by avoiding soft drinks and excessive alcohol. When you do drink alcohol, choose a soda mixer with a piece of fresh lime to have with your spirits, order a small measure of wine instead of a large, and drink water in between each alcoholic drink.
KNOW WHEN TO STOP
Apply an abundance mentality when eating and make sure you slow down and savour the moment. Try to listen to your hunger and fullness to avoid overconsumption. Enjoy your Christmas dinner – don’t inhale it.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you have a little ‘junk’/Christmas food that you might as well eat more (and more) because you’ve ruined your diet. One mince pie or a handful of chocolates will not make you fat. The rest of the pack, however, will.
features writer & lifestyle blogger and avid shoe wearer.