By Justin Mistry
It is December! The winter holiday break is soon approaching, the semester is winding down, and we’re finally going to be able to make up for lost time with our families and friends! Do you know what also happens during the winter holiday? A wack-load of eating!
Everyone is making the most delicious versions of their delicious dishes in an attempt to reign supreme in winter-time festivities. Do you know the best part about this competition? You get to do a wack-load of eating! Or do you?
Does eating a mountain of food every night align with your goals? Are you trying to gain weight, maintain weight, or lose weight? The gaining weight part is the easiest one to do, simply treat every meal as a buffet and eat your face off! The maintaining and losing weight on the other hand, well those are going to be a little tricky.
Maintaining or Losing
Proper portion sizing:
There are multiple ways to ensure you are eating the correct amount. You could use a smaller sized plate to limit how much you can put on it, you can use a normal sized plate but take much less than you actually crave, or you can take small amounts of food over multiple trips to the buffet and eat those small amounts very slowly. When we eat our food slowly you are able to better digest the food because you are more likely to chew it better, and you will feel more satisfied after the meal which will reduce your impulse to splurge on desserts.
In theory, weightloss is simple; consume less calories than you burn. One way we can do this over the winter holidays is to backload our calorie consumption. What this means is that if we know dinner is going to be a feast, we are going to have a light breakfast and light lunch.
Probiotic and Prebiotic:
In breakfast and lunch meals we can include probiotic and prebiotic foods to promote a lively gut (gastrointestinal) ecosystem. Probiotic foods are foods that naturally contain helpful bacteria and include foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, and unpasteurized pickles (pasteurization kills all bacteria). Prebiotic foods are foods that feed probiotics; prebiotics contain indigestible fibres and can be found in foods such as bananas, oats, legumes, and asparagus. Simply put, probiotics keep your gut healthy, prebiotics feed your probiotics.
This point on nutrition is key, especially when you have backloaded your calories. Starchy foods such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, bread, pasta and rice are some of the tastiest foods out there. Problem is, when they are digested the turn directly into sugars in a variety of forms. These sugars flood our blood stream to be directed towards tissues that need them, when our body determines there is no use for these sugars it releases insulin which will pull most of the sugars from our blood into fat cells. Simply put lots of starch turns into lots of sugar which releases lots of insulin to store the sugar as fat. Play it safe and stack up your plate with seasonal vegetables at dinner.
This very last point is probably going to be hammered home by you come January 1st. Moving well is a big part in how we feel. If we move well we put ourselves at a lowered risk to injury. If you’ve started your fitness journey at the AWC in September and are worried that you will lose all your progress during your three weeks of winter holidays, don’t be. A recent study explored differences in 1-repetition maximum between a control and experimental group. The experimental group trained for 6 weeks followed by 3 weeks of detraining for two cycles (24 weeks). The study found very little difference in 1-repetition maximum strength between the control group and experimental group during and after the 24-week period.
This study has shows us that by following a properly tailored fitness program, even by taking the entire winter holiday as 3 weeks of rest you can still achieve your strength goals in the long run. Remember, fitness is a marathon not a sprint, if you need assistance programming your fitness to achieve your long-term health goals book a consultation with a certified trainer in the Athletic and Wellness Centre.
Tzur, A. (2017). The Science Of Detraining: How Long You Can Take A Break From The Gym Before You Lose Muscle Mass, Strength, And Endurance. The Science of Fitness. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from http://sci-fit.net/2017/detraining-retraining/