How To Stay Lean Through Christmas!

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With Christmas just around the corner, you can’t help but think of those festive family gatherings, dinners and off course.. desserts. Not to mention the end of year work parties & numerous social gatherings! Everyone is wondering how to stay lean through Christmas!

And straight after News Years Eve.. you feel the guilt of starting January feeling a lot heavier & fluffier than you were before December.

But, thankfully with a few nutrition & training changes during the festive season you can stay on top of your goals, and even make positive body composition changes!

Trust me, I’ve been there. I remember having a physique competition falling in March of the new year, all I could think about was saying no to all the food being shoved in my face! Even having a good understanding of my nutritional requirements, I still needed to implement a strategy to get me through.

Guess what? It’s not nearly as hard as you’re thinking.. let’s get started!

Let The Extra Calories Work For You..

Everybody is so scared about consuming extra calories around Christmas, and there’s off course simple ways to stay flexible and still hit your macro / calorie daily totals. But, what most people forget is that you can utilize those extra calories.

Increasing your calories on certain days, especially around heavy strength / hypertrophy  based resistance sessions will give you more energy to increase performance & post workout recovery.

Those extra calories if consumed wisely (lean protein, complex carbs) will optimize your intra workout energy levels (performance) & post workout recovery, leading to increased muscle protein synthesis & increased strength.

Research & studies have shown that nutrient timing can positively effect performance & body composition if implemented correctly. Here are some key research based findings:

  • The timing of energy intake and the ratio of certain ingested macro-nutrients may enhance recovery and tissue repair, augment muscle protein synthesis
  • Endogenous glycogen stores are maximized by following a high-carbohydrate diet (8–12 g of carbohydrate/kg/day [g/kg/day]); moreover, these stores are depleted most by high volume exercise
  • Pre & post-exercise nutritional interventions (carbohydrate + protein or protein alone) may operate as an effective strategy to support increases in strength and improvements in body composition. However, the size and timing of a pre-exercise meal may impact the extent to which post-exercise protein feeding is required
  • Post-exercise ingestion (immediately to 2-h post) of high-quality protein sources stimulates robust increases in muscle protein synthesis
  • Ingesting a 20–40 g protein dose (0.25–0.40 g/kg body mass/dose) of a high-quality source every three to 4 h appears to most favourably affect muscle protein synthesis rates when compared to other dietary patterns and is associated with improved body composition and performance outcomes

Cycle Your Calories…

Now obviously you’re coming into the Christmas period with certain goals, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog right? As stated above if you want to build some muscle definition, you can certainly utilize those additional calories.

However, if you are wanting to stay lean or even get leaner during the festive season, you will want to still hit your daily calorie & macro-nutrients targets. But, this doesn’t mean you won’t get to enjoy yourself! It just means you need to plan & strategize a little more carefully.

The first step is to start cycling your calories. If you know you have a high calorie dinner or lunch coming up, decrease your portion sizes leading up to the event. You can even take things one step further & use intermittent fasting. Significantly decrease your calories leading up to the high calorie event!

And take note of what foods are on offer, if you have a calorie counting app like myfitnesspal you can work out how many calories & macros you’re consuming on the fly!

Even better, plan ahead. Find out the foods you will be eating & calculate them before the event’s started!

Cut The Guilt…

Let’s remember, you’re only human, you are going to have occasional slip ups with your calories / macros. There’s nothing wrong with edging outside your targets from time to time. However, it’s important to not let these times during the year completely derail you from achieving your goals.

If you’re finding that you’re regularly being derailed from your goals, then it might be worth investigating your mindset. Emotional eating is a problem not only for overweight people, it’s an issue for athletes and various people from different backgrounds & body composition.

And for anyone reading this wanting a done-for-you plan to get through this Christmas while hitting your targets & staying accountable, checkout my solo physique plan.

Merry Christmas & happy lifting!

References

  1. Reed MJ, Brozinick JT Jr, Lee MC, Ivy JL. Muscle Glycogen Storage Postexercise: Effect Of Mode Of Carbohydrate Administration. J Appl Physiol. 1989;66(2):720–6.

2. Foster C, Costill DL, Fink WJ. Effects Of Preexercise Feedings On Endurance Performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1979;11:1–5.

3. Jeukendrup AE. Carbohydrate Intake During Exercise And Performance. Nutrition. 2004;20(7-8):669–77.

4. Mizuno S, Kojima C, Goto K. Timing Of Carbohydrate Ingestion Did Not Affect Inflammatory Response And Exercise Performance During Prolonged Intermittent Running. Spring. 2016;5:506.

5. Beelen M, Koopman R, Gijsen AP, Vandereyt H, Kies AK, Kuipers H, Saris WH, Van Loon LJ. Protein Coingestion Stimulates Muscle Protein Synthesis During Resistance-Type Exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008;295(1):E70–7.

6. Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA, Krieger JW. The Effect Of Protein Timing On Muscle Strength And Hypertrophy: A Meta-Analysis. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013;10(1):53.