Fish Oils
December 18, 2012
Hangovers
December 30, 2012

It’s going to be a lean Christmas

I love Christmas. 

Christmas is a time for family, friends, relaxing and inevitably LOTS of eating.  I am blessed with a family full of incredible cooks which leaves me open and vulnerable to some serious fat gain over the festive period.

So how can you still indulge in all of that home cooking, and not get festively plump?

1)  Keep up with your training
I’ve made the mistake of using the Christmas week as a week off training.  Big mistake.  No training + parents cooking = Santa-esque belly.  There are always ways to train, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing!  Find a different gym if you can’t access your normal one, do some body-weight training, go for a run, or a long walk.  Just do SOMETHING!

As important as anything else, continuing to train will simply make you feel good.  If I miss my training sessions, I feel lazy, and if I feel lazy I miss my training sessions…that’s a difficult cycle to break.

2)  Plan out the festive period
This goes hand-in-hand with the above.  Plan your training around the days you know the gym will be closed or when you’ll be opening presents.  I will be with my family and away from my normal routine for 11 days; I’ve checked the local gym opening times and family-time social calendar and here’s what I’ve come up with:

23rd – REST
24th – 30 minute fasted cardio
25th – REST
26th – 30 minute fasted cardio
27th – Deadlifts + Accessory
28th – Bench + Accessory
29th – REST
30th – Squats + Overhead Press
31st – 30 minute fasted cardio
1st – REST
2nd – Deadlifts + Accessory

Obviously yours will be different, but you get the idea.  Make a plan and stick to it.

3)  Abstain through the day, indulge at night
By under-eating earlier in the day you’ll have calories ‘in the bank’ for a filling meal packed with carbs and goodies in the evening.  So keep it protein-based and carb-free through the day and you can have a guilt-free and delicious evening.  And if you can time this meal so it’s within 2 hours of finishing training – double bonus.

This approach is also known as the ‘feast-fast’ method and actually has a lot of scientific evidence for its effectiveness.  I won’t delve too much into the science as that could (and probably will be) a blog post itself, but periods of under-eating followed by overeating have been strongly linked to:

  • increased growth hormone output (important for fat loss and muscle growth)
  • improved insulin sensitivity (also important for fat loss)
  • improved mental function.

The feast-fast method could be approached in two ways;

  1.   A full fast from when you wake up until your evening meal(s).  So only water, coffee, green tea and sugar-free drinks are allowed from when you wake up until your eating ‘window’.  This window should be from around 6pm until you go to bed and (within reason) you can get away with almost anything.
  2.   ‘Under-eating’ throughout the day.  Eat 3-4 smaller meals containing ONLY protein and a small amount of fat throughout the day, leaving room for a large meal (with all the accoutrements) in the evening.

So there you have it – three simple tactics which are incredibly easy to implement to allow for a fully indulgent and non-fattening festive period.