We spend months transforming our winter bodies into the lean, toned bods we’re happy to flaunt on the beach. But the holidays seem to have a drag effect – dragging us out of the gym and directly toward food and then the couch… After a week or two of eating too much junk, drinking too much champagne and choosing the duvet over the barbell, we notice changes we don’t like. We lose muscle tone (and strength), we’re no longer fit, and our skinny jeans look a little less, well, skinny. Hello holiday weight gain…
The holiday weight gain can be especially demotivating. But we have good news: With the right diet, you can shed the extra kilos fast (and it won’t feel like a punishment!).
Here are 6 nutrition tips to help you eat away the holiday weight gain.
1. Break up with the culprit (and eat more green leaves)
Holidays are rich in comfort food, which is usually rich in calories (and relatively low in nutrients).
If you want to stop the weight gain in its tracks, you must cut out the “bad foods”:
- Processed foods (rich in sugar, salt and other additives that not only hinder weight loss, they’re downright unhealthy),
- Soft drinks,
- Fried foods, which are very high in unhealthy fats,
- Sweets and chocolates,
- Refined carbohydrates, including bread, pasta, etc. – these are so refined, they are converted to sugar in your digestive system. And this sugar is very easily (and quickly) stored as fat,
- Sauces and dressings (these are often laced with sugars, salts, unhealthy oils).
Instead, make it your mission to eat as much “whole food” as possible, meaning that you eat real foods which are rich in nutrients. Prepare yourself meals that contain lean protein, lots of vitamins, as well as minerals and nutrients.
Increase your intake of green leafy vegetables. These are high in fibre (keeping you fuller for longer and stabilising your blood sugar levels), which means your body has to work hard to digest them (goodbye, calories!).
2. Add protein shakes to your daily meal plan
Scientists found that individuals who consume whey protein burn more calories than those who don’t. And in weight-loss trials, the individuals who were drinking protein shakes lost more weight than the individuals who weren’t. Score for getting rid of that holiday weight gain!
3. Eat more of these fats
Healthy fats are proven to help you lose weight, and make your nervous system and muscles healthier too. So make sure you’re getting plenty of the Omega fatty acids in your diet (the fatty acids found in fish, avocado oil, olive oil as well as nuts, for example). It’s a good idea to supplement with these essential fatty acids to make sure you’re really getting enough of them.
4. Don’t cut out carbs
Your body needs carbohydrates for energy. And if you’re planning to train hard in the gym, you must maintain a healthy intake of carbohydrates. The trick is, to eat the right carbs, namely whole grains and high-fibre carbs.
Of course, not all carbs are created equal. Aim for high-quality complex carbs, such as wholegrains with lots of fibre. Oats, sweet potato and other vegetables are a great source of healthy carbohydrates.
5. Supplement with BCAAs
Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) make a great supplement for weight loss. They’ve been shown to reduce food cravings and hunger, as well as reduce insulin sensitivity, making it easier for your body to metabolise sugars correctly (instead of storing the sugars as fat).
Another bonus: They boost performance, because they delay muscle fatigue. So you can work out harder, for longer.
BCAAs are present in your foods but if you’re planning to hit the gym hard (and eat a very lean diet), it’s smart to supplement with BCAAs.
6. Eat more small meals that do more for your body
Experts advise that you get your daily nutrition through four or five smaller meals (instead of the square three meals), that have a high nutritional value. This helps you lose weight because it keeps your blood sugar levels more stable over the course of the day, while also feeding your body the nutrients that keep it functioning at its best.
Vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and lean protein sources all qualify as good food.
If you follow these nutritional principles, you’ll soon burn away the holiday weight gains. Want to learn about even more great nutritional principles? Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Specialised Nutrition Course is just up your alley. Click here to find out more.