The holidays can be rough on a strict diet and even tougher on a loose one. Trying to enjoy yourself during the holidays with family and friends and keep up with your fitness routine seems impossible. However, I’m here to tell you that there are ways to stay on track with your diet during the holidays. Planning will be the key but there are other ways that will help you stay fit, get fit, and enjoy the holidays all at the same time.
Many diet routines give room for a cheat day and if you’ve been extra good in preparing, you may even be alright with two cheat days. However, don’t let those two days turn into a full week, or worse, month. Research has shown that people tend to gain weight from October until the end of the year. The three days that hurt your diet during the holidays the most are Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. That means there should only be a total of 3-6 cheat days during a three month period. There is no world where 6 days over three months will completely derail your routine, so don’t make it worse by adding weeks or months.
Calorie cycling is the process of taking in fewer calories in the few days leading up to a specific day. Then, when that day comes, you can intake the remaining calories you allow yourself for the week. For example, if your diet allows you to eat 500 calories below maintenance each day of the week. That means you’re allowed to eat 3,500 calories over the span of a week. On Thanksgiving, you can plan to eat 500-1000 calories over your maintenance. So plan to accordingly to still hit your calorie intake for the week.
Just like you’d cycle your calories, cycle your workout as well. Let’s say you go to the gym 5-7 times per week and do specific workouts each day. Instead of sacrificing time with family or friends, sacrifice gym time. There is nothing wrong with going to the gym less, especially if you use the cycling tip at the gym. Go to the 3 days instead but use high-intensity workouts while there. Use HIIT for your cardio and high-intensity weight training for all three days you do go to the gym. This will help you stay on track during the holiday week.
Sometimes we can’t do the above and feel like we’re going to fail no matter what. Don’t, there are more ways to stay on track without losing your diet during the holidays. Simply replace some recipes during the holidays with calorie/ macronutrient friendly recipes. There are others who have fought this fight and came out on top. Those who have succeeded have also shared their ideas to help others win as well. These recipes are ones that the whole family will love and so will your diet plan.
Some may think that the best way to stay on track is to skip a meal but it’s not. In fact, skipping a meal may make your body feel like it needs to hold onto more. Instead of skipping a meal, make it a lighter meal. The day of the holiday celebration, have a light breakfast like an egg white omelet with veggies and fat-free cheese.
There is an easy way to find out how much water you should drink every single day:
Make sure you drink the right amount and maybe a little extra on the actual holiday. Holiday meals usually come with high sodium intake and water will help reduce the bloat. All of that water will also help make you feel full faster and prevent you from overeating.
Believe it or not, studies have shown that larger plates lead to higher calorie intakes. Which means, smaller plates would mean lower calorie intakes. The entire idea is a mental game. People are less likely to ask for another serving because they mentally feel like they’ve had enough. If you normally eat 4-5 large plates on Thanksgiving, you’ll eat 4-5 small plates on Thanksgiving. Save your diet during the holidays by eating small plates.
Eating slow has been proven to reduce calorie intake as well. If you chew thoroughly and take your time, you will naturally eat less. Not to mention all of the leftovers can be used over time to help you stay on track as well.
Drinking water will be important, but drinking alcohol isn’t important at all. However, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a drink or two with family. If you will be drinking, try to use low-calorie recipes. Alcohol will not only lead to eating more calories, the alcohol itself has calories as well. Choose light alcohol and you can even use some low-calorie recipes:
Once you’ve made it through the holiday itself, the leftovers will haunt you in your fridge. Just remember, the binging day is over but most of the food will fit in normally to your calorie or macronutrient goals. Use the leftovers wisely and enjoy the leftovers.