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10 Ways to Out-Wit Holiday Weight Gain

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It’s that time of year again!  Holiday parties, dinners, family get-togethers and the inevitable sugar-and-alcohol-laden food and bevvies–ugh!  I can feel the anxiety building!

Well, the good news is that it is possible to do some damage control–some effortlessly, some not.  Obviously, the most important thing is to stay consistent with your workouts, even if your fat loss nutrition takes a turn for the worst.  You can always grab a quick workout to buffer some of the negative effects of the holidays meals.  And try to remember your goals.  Don’t just eat any old dessert at a holiday party because it is in front of you…only choose and savor the items that you absolutely have to have and even then, 3 bites is enough to satisfy.  Don’t fill up on lots of sugary/fatty drinks (I love eggnog as much as the next person), but instead a single glass of red wine will give you the satisfaction of knowing you are not indulging too much, but still enjoying a little holiday cheer–not to mention feel good enough to get up and workout the next day!

I pulled the following article from the Metabolic Effect Blog, because it shares some great EASY tips for buffering the damage at holiday time.  Give some of these tips and tricks a shot and hopefully come January 1, you will be the only one NOT jumping on the News Years bandwagon…you are already on the Year-Round bandwagon! :)  Let me know what you think! ox Jill

(Watch out for the Yule Log or else your arm will start to resemble this!! lol)

10 Ways to Halt Holiday Fat Storage Effortlessly
By Jade Teta, ND, CSCS of Metabolic Effect
Reprinted from the Metabolic Effect Blog

With the holidays upon us, we have been getting many questions about what can be done to control the fat storing effects associated with this time of year. Obviously, the best way is to stay on a fat burning diet and continue to exercise, but there are other more effortless ways to at least lessen the impact of holiday meals:

1) Drink 2 large glasses of water before every meal. Research has shown this technique can help in 2 ways, increase caloric burn and help us stay full.  In a study in 2007 out of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Volume 92 number 8, 500ml of water induced a 24% increase in thermogenesis compared to an equal amount of saline. Another study published in November 2008 in the Journal Obesity (Vol. 16 # 11) showed dieting women lose greater amounts of weight as they increase the amount of water they drink. Finally, in the November 1993 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Vol. 47 # 11) 2 glasses of water taken with meals increased and sped up feelings of being full from a meal.

2) Choose Sourdough or Rye as your choice of bread. Rye bread decreases the amount of insulin released compared to regular wheat bread.  Research in the September 2009 Nutrition Journal reported not only does Rye bread decrease insulin response, but it increases satiety (feelings of fullness) compared to other bread. The researchers do not yet know what is causing this effect, but believe it is related to some yet to be identified bioactive compound. In addition, a June 2008 article in Acta Diabetologica (vol. 45 # 2) showed eating sourdough bread compared to other breads improves blood sugar and insulin responses in people with insulin resistance.

3) Eat vinegar before each meal. There is a way to lower the detrimental effects of a starchy meal, vinegar. Vinegar is able to decrease blood sugar responses and insulin levels that normally accompany a high starch meal. It can also make you feel full faster and longer.  The more vinegar, the better the response.  There are two ways to do this, like the Italians (take a shot of a high end balsamic vinaigrette before each meal) or put extra vinegar on your salad. (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005 Sep;59(9):983-988.)

4) Eat veggies first, protein second, and starch last. By eating your vegetables and protein before you eat the starch you will feel satisfaction from your food more quickly, you will eat less, and the negative hormonal responses of your meal will be decreased.  Also, slow your eating to realize the onset of fullness.

5) Spice up your food. Break out the pepper, cayenne, peppers and hot sauce.  Spicy foods can slow down the rate at which sugar enters your blood stream.  It can also increase the amount of calories you burn in response to a meal. (American Journal of Clinical Digestion 2006 July;84(1):63-69.)

6) Choose desserts with berries, cinnamon or chocolate. While no dessert is optimal, if you are going to indulge, try to choose the ones that have some healthy aspects to them.  Berries, cinnamon and chocolate each have compounds in them that can aid metabolic processes.  While they can’t completely overcome the huge amount of fat and sugar they are accompanied by in a dessert, they may lessen the effects. The benefit of cocoa is not for metabolism stimulating effects, but rather for its ability to help improve mood.  Small amounts of cocoa can help improve mood, reduce cravings, and reduce subsequent food intake.  In my clinical practice I frequently recommend people drink pure cocoa powder in water with a low-calorie sweetener to improve mood and reduce cravings.  In animal models cocoa raises serotonin one of the major brain chemicals reduced in cravings and uncontrollable eating. (Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2009 Dec;20(12):948-55). Cinnamon helps optimize blood sugar and insulin metabolism (J Med Food. 2009 Jun;12(3):467-72.). Berries believe it or not have some fat burning potential and delay weight gain from a high fat diet.  Read more at one of my past blogs here @ berries to burn fat?

7) Drink green tea with high fat meals. Green tea and tea in general is what is known as a weak lipase inhibitor.  Basically it decreases the absorption of fat (J Nutr Biochem. 2007 Mar;18(3):179-83.).  It also has been shown to increase fat loss by stimulating fat burning genes (Ann Nutr Metab. 2009;54(2):151-7.). Drink green tea and drink it often.

‘8) Drink red wine instead of beer or booze. No alcohol is good for fat burning, but if you are going to drink alcohol it might as well come with some resveratrol.  Resveratrol is a plant chemical found in wine that has positive impact on insulin metabolism (J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2009 Jan;113(1-2):17-24.).

9) Exercise 1 hour before all heavy meals and/or exercise after. Exercising prior to a big meal is a good idea as some of the calories can go to building muscle rather than storing fat. Exercising after a meal is also not a bad idea.  After a workout is both the worst and best time to eat.  It is the worst time because you are unlikely to get the same fat burning punch from your workouts, but it is also one of the best times as it can undo some of the damage of a high fat/high starch meal.

10) Fast until the big meal. Another way to make the big meals of the holidays less damaging, is to do modified fasting until the meal. By drinking lots of water, drinking tea, making unsweetened cocoa, eating foods heavy in water and fiber (celery, cucumbers, fiber supplements, green/red peppers, etc) you can keep yourself from getting hungry and craving until you eat.

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