A Choose Your Own Adventure Guide to Christmas Temperance or Gluttony
‘This the season to write an article about how to avoid gaining weight over Christmas while still enjoying yourself.
The truth is that while you devour those articles with a keenness on par with your appetite for Aunt Maude’s box of Ferrero Rocher’s, you aren’t really going to put it into practice; opting instead for some confused middle ground between throwing your turkey on a food scale before working out how many after eight mints you can consume without going over your fat macros, or waking up 48 hours later, covered in gravy, with a half eaten chocolate orange in your pocket.
You’re a winner. And, like all winners, if you want to win big in fitness this Christmas, you’ve got to go all in either way. Maintaining your chiselled abs in spite of the mouth-watering obstacles that lay ahead is one virtuous path. Shouting “fuck it” audibly at the dinner table and then attempting to eat the entire contents of your 8-year-old cousin’s selection box in under 3 minutes is another. Here I present a brief, evidence-based, guide to both options.
The choose your own adventure 5 step guide to a successful fitness Christmas. Choose A or B, and sacrifice to win.
- A) If you’ve got a bit of time off work over Christmas, by taking the extra time to train and actually increasing training volume over the holiday period, you will benefit your physique in the long run from the increase in hypertrophy a calorie surplus plus structured resistance training program can provide. Considering you’ll almost certainly not have access to a gym on Christmas Day itself, by performing bodyweight training at home, you will also likely end up with some muscle gain, and not just fat gain.
- B) By not moving from the sofa except only to eat and relieve yourself during the holiday period, you will lose muscle despite being in an extended calorie surplus. However, after a period of complete inactivity, even though at first you may have lost a marginal amount of strength, you’ll likely make very quick progress in the gym when you start training again, essentially feeling like a God for half of January, with the added option of an Instagram before and after making it look like you actually achieved something.
- A) When eating any meal over the entire holiday period, make an effort to eat mindfully. Sit at a table, and try to limit any distractions from various media that might be available in the household. Evidence points to eating in a non-distracted state, as being a reliable way to eat fewer calories during the meal.
- B) Consume meals by resting a plate of food on your distended abdomen, attempting to watch Spartacus on TV while playing Super Mario Run with your left hand at the same time. Resist the temptation to walk to the kitchen for more food when the meal is over by keeping a large bag of mixed nuts stuffed down the right-hand side of the sofa, close to your free hand at all times.
- A) If drinking excessive amounts of alcohol around the festive season, due to the body’s tendency to preferentially store fat rather than using it as a fuel when alcohol is being consumed, make sure you stick to a low fat, low-calorie diet to mitigate fat gain from the ensuing calorie surplus.
- B) Before sitting down to Christmas dinner and maybe a glass or two of wine, take the initiative and start drinking well before the main event, prior to actually consuming any food, in order to produce the maximum amount of drunkenness in a limited time frame. Going into the Christmas dinner already partially sozzled will reduce your inhibitions, allowing you to eat literally thousands of calories from pigs in blankets alone without any of the usually associated guilt.
- A) During the Christmas dinner, start the meal by sticking mostly to lean protein sources and vegetables, allowing some of your favourite treats later. The increased satiety from the protein and fibre rich foods will decrease the amount you eat overall, meaning you’ll consume far less total calories when you do eat the more energy dense food stuff.
- B) In order to maximise your consumption of Christmas pudding during the latter part of the meal, you will likely benefit from a well thought out pre-meal strategy. By emitting turkey and green vegetables in favour of the more hyper-palatable morsels, you will bypass your body’s normal satiety signals, leaving sufficient room to consume more calories than you previously dared imagine.
- A) After the day of feasting, consider fasting the next day. By taking advantage of the residual fullness from Christmas day and reducing calories to 25% of maintenance, or skipping breakfast using a time restricted feeding window, you can cut calories back drastically and burn off much of the fat you stored the day before.
- B) Pretend yesterday never happened, grab yourself a big plate and hit the buffet of leftovers hard. If you still feel full from yesterday’s festivities, take advantage of the fact that family and friends might still be around, by eating amongst a group. You’re likely to eat as much as 75% more in a group setting than eating alone, so forget how much you dislike your cousin Tony, and use him to fuel your indulgences further.
So there you have it; an evidence-based guide to holiday sainthood, or irreverence. At a time like Christmas, there are only two paths to greatness, the rest is just middle ground.
Want to lose weight while still going out to eat the foods you love? Get the eat out stay lean system and never worry about eating out again.