December 18th, 2015
How to stay slim over Christmas
Over Christmas the average UK adult will put on 5lbs of weight. On Christmas day itself we consume an average of 7,000 calories. This is roughly the equivalent to 6 days’ worth of calories all in one go. Not only will the weight gain take effort to shift but it will also expand your stomach and cause large swings in blood sugar levels. This in turn can also lead to you feeling hungry and getting into a vicious cycle of hunger and unhealthy eating.
Although losing weight over the festive season might not be the most realistic of goals, how about a more achievable weight maintenance program? With just a bit of timely activity and some clever food choices – both in terms of timing and content – you can have your cake and eat it.
Here’s how to stay slim over Christmas:
- Just have the main meals: The actual Christmas dinner is surprisingly healthy. Lean meat and vegetables are actually what we recommend clients have for dinner most evenings. Even pig-in-a-blanket is not so bad (protein and fat). Where the calories pile up is in the snacking. It’s the snacking on chocolate, biscuits and other dainties that’s dangerous. So have the main meals, just be aware of the empty calories that you don’t need; quietly turn down the quality street.
- Drink smart. 5 pints of bitter might seem a good idea, but beers and wine contain more than twice as many calories as spirits and low calorie mixers. There are also smart cocktails that taste great, will do the job but only have around 150 calories in them. So choose a gin and slimline tonic over a large glass of wine, a lime margarita over a pint of Guinness. Have a look at our blog on low calorie cocktails.
- Snack smart: The snacks that will make your blood sugar rise the most quickly and lead to insulin release and fat storage are those with the most sugar. Remembering that proteins do not trigger a marked rise in blood sugars, go for snacks with a high protein content first, then those with more carbohydrate second, followed by anything sugary as the last resort. So a sausage roll would trump crisps; cheese and crackers would be better than a custard cream, crisps would trump a dairy milk. Have a look at our healthy late night snacks
- Keep moving. It’s the double-edged sword of no activity and thousands of calories that make you put on weight over the festive season. All activity counts. NEAT, (or non exercise thermogenic activity), is the energy that you expend outside of exercise. This can really add up and help to mitigate the extra calories that you will be eating. Of course while sitting down you are not getting any NEAT. Even simple things like tidying up, fetching things form other rooms, playing with the remote controlled helicopter your nephew got, getting drinks for people could add up. An after dinner walk will help too. Separately these activities may seem inconsequential, but together they could add up to an extra 500 calories burned on the day.
- Watch your timing. Taking calories onboard just as you are about to sit down for 2 hours to watch the Sound of Music will lead to fat storage. As there is no demand for energy, there will be a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, insulin will be released and you will store energy in your fat stores. But, blood sugar levels can also be lowered through exercise, so it becomes important to think about when you are eating and when you are sitting still – or when you are about to be sitting still. Time it so that some activity happens just as you have eaten.
Doing all of the above may seem like a bit of an effort, but it will be much more of an effort to try and lose 5 lbs later on down the line. Especially in depressing January.
So take these simple steps and have a happy, but slim (ish) Christmas!