Well the holiday season is finally here (again!) and I know you’re thinking what I’m thinking; food indulgence marathon! Of course, there’s also that nagging concern about the holiday weight gain that comes from giving into all those guilty pleasures. To let you enjoy the holiday festivities, here are five great ways to keep off the extra pounds without having to go through another ridiculous fad diet that will only make you fatter in the long-run.
But before we get to that, let’s first get to the truth about holiday weight gain.
Holiday weight gain: fact or fiction?
Reports say that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day the average American adult gains around five to ten pounds. Unfortunately, many people buy into this exaggerated and unfounded information.
No doubt holiday weight gain is real, but according to a 2000 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the usual amount of weight people gain during the holiday period is roughly a pound, which is a far cry from the five or ten pounds often cited. The said study included 195 adult test subjects, who were constantly monitored for weight changes from late September to early March.1
I’m sure news like that makes most of you happy, but wait for it…here comes the bad news.
If you are overweight or obese to start with, you can expect to gain even more unwanted weight during the holiday season and you may be keeping it a lot longer than you wanted. One study showed that instead of losing the extra weight, 14 percent of obese or overweight subjects gained five more pounds postholiday period.2 But further studies are needed to confirm this finding.
The cold hard truth is that weight gains, no matter how little, could contribute to excess body fat accumulation over time, especially as you start to age. Now you might be thinking, “Does this mean I have to start skipping parties and deprive myself of oh-so-delicious holiday treats?” Fortunately, you don’t have to. Besides, we all know that dieting is a total failure this time of the year or at any other time for that matter. Instead, following are some of the things you can do instead.
1) Munch on Fiber-Rich Foods In order to effectively target the body to rid itself of extra fat you need to have full control over your hunger pangs. But how? Try filling your plate with fiber-rich foods, such as green, leafy vegetables, broccoli, kale, apple, beans, and sweet peas. Or to make it easier, try supplementing with an organic multi-fiber blend like Ultimate FibreLean (which contains 100 percent organic vegetable and fruit fibers along with no sweeteners of any kind).
The right fiber helps you lose weight by making you feel fuller, so you don’t get easily tempted to eat more—especially more of the wrong foods and at this time of the year the foods we indulge in are not exactly right! Psychologically, since fiber-rich foods take longer to empty from the stomach, the brain can easily be fooled into thinking that you’ve already eaten enough without actually increasing your food proportion.
Want to know the secret formula to sustained weight loss? According to the researchers of a two-year study done at Brigham Young University in Utah, if you want to lose around 4 ½ pounds, you need to boost your fiber intake by eight grams for every 1,000 calories.3 So, if you’re daily calorie intake is around 1,500, your fiber intake should be increased to 12 grams (or two scoops of FibreLean).
2) Shake it Up with Protein Consuming protein foods is another great solution to lose those extra pounds. Like dietary fiber, protein also helps us feel fuller and reduces our appetite. A study revealed that foods with high protein levels increase satiety and thermogenesis.4 Thermogenesis is our body’s ability to produce heat. The more our body produces heat, the greater its ability to burn calories, thus decreasing our body fat levels.
You need to take note, however, that different types of protein have different effects on our appetite and caloric consumption. For instance, whey protein containing high levels of glycomacropeptides (GMP), a carbohydrate-rich type of protein, helps reduce weight by releasing a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK), which in turn stimulates the brain to decrease our appetite.
Compared to most plant-based proteins like soy, whey protein powder is seen as more beneficial to our health—at least that’s what a recent study by the U.S. Human Nutrition Research Center said. After 23 weeks of testing, researchers found out the group that consumed whey protein experienced a decrease in their weight and body fat by 1.8 kg and had smaller waistlines.5 The best whey for the human body is high alphalactalbumin (or High-Alpha) whey as this is what is found in mother’s breast milk.
3) Get Adequate Sleep
“Lose weight while sleeping!” Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, think again. Many studies have shown there’s actually a strong link between sleep and weight management.
In a 1986 study, women who reportedly get around five hours or less of sleep gained roughly 1.14 kilograms, as compared to women who got seven hours of sleep. Women who normally slept for six hours, on the other hand, gained 0.71 kilograms.6 Simply put, what this study is trying to tell us is that not getting enough sleep will ultimately predispose us to weight gain and obesity problems. As to exactly “how” sleep and weight effects each other, further studies still need to be done. But some suggest that the main culprit is found in two specific hormones—leptin and ghrelin—responsible for regulating appetite.
If you don’t get the recommended snooze time, leptin (a hormone that stimulates the brain when you’re full) decreases while ghrelin (an appetite stimulant) increases. This will eventually cause you to eat too much, which can translate to, well, a fatter you.
4) Avoid Stressing Out
Are you stressed out right now? Whenever we get stressed for whatever reasons—work deadlines, exams, emergency situations—our fight-or-flight response is triggered. This then stimulates the release of different body hormones, like the most powerful stress hormone cortisol.
Experiencing stress, under normal levels, is well, perfectly normal. What’s bad, though, is if you stay stressed for too long. When that happens, you can bet that you’ll experience various health and weight problems. You see, high levels of cortisol could significantly slow your metabolism and increase your cravings for unhealthy comfort foods (remember Ben & Jerry?). Stress could also cause your body to store fat in the wrong places, like your abdominal area. Abdominal fat is believed to be contributory to a number of serious health conditions, like heart diseases.
5) Move It Fast
Short-burst training (SBT), or interval training, is composed of a series of heavy-intensity to light-intensity exercises with brief periods of rest. This type of workout is popular among athletes because of its ability to effectively develop their speed, power, endurance, and burn excess lactic acid, which is believed to cause anxiety attacks.7
What’s more, people who undergo short-burst training still continue to burn body fats hours after the session. This exciting phenomenon is commonly known as excess post-exercises oxygen consumption or EPOC for short.
In a 2001 study, results showed that the group doing aerobic exercises, as compared to the group doing interval training, didn’t lose much body fat even though they were exercising for longer periods of time.8
Again, losing weight doesn’t mean that you deprive yourself of food or decline party invitations during the holidays. It’s about developing healthy eating habits, increased preference for an active lifestyle, and taking note of the tips I just gave you. Wishing You a Happy Healthy Holiday.
- Yanovski JA, et al. A prospective study of holiday weight gain. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2000 March 23. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pubmed?cmd=retrieve&db=pubmed&list_uids=10727591&dopt=AbstractPlus
- Roberts SB, Mayer J. Holiday weight gain: fact or fiction? National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2000 December. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=1120684 7&ordinalpos=15&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
- Larry A, et al. Increasing Total Fiber Intake Reduces Risk of Weight and Fat Gains in Women. The American Institute of Nutrition. Volume 139 no. 3 576–81. 2009 January 21. Retrieved from http://jn.nutrition.org/content/139/3/576.full
- Thomas L, et al. The Effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Volume 23 No. 5 373-385. 2004 October. Retrieved from http://www.jacn.org/content/23/5/373. abstract
- David J, et al. Whey Protein but Not Soy Protein Supplementation Alters Body Weight and Composition in Free-Living Overweight and Obese Adults. American Society for Nutrition. Jn. 111.139840. 2011 August 1. Retrieved from http://jn.nutrition.org/ content/early/2011/06/15/jn.111.139840.abstract
- Sanjay R. Patel, et al. Association between Reduced Sleep and Weight Gain in Women. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2006 November 15. Retrieved from http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/164/10/947.short
- Richard Maddock, 2010, May 18. Panic Attacks as a Problem of pH. Scientific American. Retrieved June 29, 2012 from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=panic-attacks-as-ph-problem
- King JW. A Comparison of the Effects of Interval Training vs. Continuous Training on Weight Loss and Body Composition in Obese Pre-Menopausal Women. East Tennessee State University. 2001. Retrieved from http://dc.etsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1173&context=etd