With Christmas lurking round the corner I often find people 'freak out' about what to do when it comes to eating, and worry about bouncing back and regaining the weight that they're recently lost. I can tell you now, you needn't be worried, as I say every year:
"It's not what you eat between Christmas and New Year that makes the difference, but what you eat between New Year and Christmas!"
I wish I could claim this as my own but have been quoting this for several years now when I first heard it at a fitness convention out in the States. Since then it's one of the few words of wisdom that's really stuck with me and they are definitely words to live by! You see, the amount of fat a person can gain over a week will be such a small amount that you shouldn't let the fear of it stop you from fully getting into the festive spirt. It's funny, as I find people are far too worried about what they're going to be eating between Christmas and New Year rather than worrying about the other 51 weeks of the year.
Anyway, for those of you who have done well on transforming your body this year and may be worrying that Christmas may undo all the hard work, then here's a great plan to limit the 'Santa Bulge.'
We're almost 10 days away from the big day, leaving just enough time to go strict on a 10-Day carbohydrate depletion phase. This phase is the key and will ensure you get to enjoy all the food and drink (ok, within reason) over the Christmas holidays with minimal fat gain however, it's not going to be an easy 10 days…
The Day-10 Carbohydrate Plan
Days 1-10 require you to be strict on your carbohydrate consumption. The only carbohydrates you'll eat will be in the form of green vegetables and nuts. All major and popular carbohydrate sources are to eliminated, these include: bread, pasta, grains (rice, buckwheat, spelt, millet, oats etc.), beans and pulses, cakes, sweet, chocolate, root veg, most condiments and sauces and alcohol! Yes sorry, for the next 10 days it has got to go! Your total daily intake of carbohydrates will be between 30-50g from only green vegetables and nuts. With the elimination of almost a whole food group you now need to fill its gap; protein and fat will do just that.
You need to make sure your consumption of protein is at least 1.8g per kilo of bodyweight or ideally 2.0-2.2g per kg of bodyweight. After you've set your protein intake you then need to set dietary fat. This will usually be between 0.7g-1g per kilo of bodyweight and dependent on your total calorie intake.
Over the 10 days you'll also put yourself into a calorie deficient. I tend to find men do well on around 1600-1800 Kcals and women on slightly less, 1200-1400 Kcals. With this in mind if you take a 60kg female with their protein set at 120g (480 Kcals) and a carbohydrate intake of 30g (120Kcals) the calories from fat would want to be around 600-800 Kcals or between 65 and 90g of dietary fat. Now that you've set up some real numbers it's time to plan your meals.
The majority of meals will consist of the following:
• a protein source - fish, poultry, red meat, eggs and/or full fat greek yogurt.
• green vegetables - spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, green beans, peppers, asparagus etc.
• a source of dietary fat - handful of nuts, 1/2 avocado, fish oil, olive oil/oil based salad dressing, oily fish i.e mackerel, salmon, sardines.
The 10 days are designed to help deplete the body of its glycogen stores, so come day 11 and 12 (Christmas day/Boxing day) and throughout the Christmas week you'll then help to replenish this 'lost' glycogen through good eating and drinking. You'll find you'll be able to consume all mannerer of foods without it having a detrimental impact on your body fat and composition. Win, win!
What to expect over the next 10-days
During the first few days it's quite normal to experience the following: headaches, skin breakouts, tiredness and fatigue, irritability, brain fog and weakness (especially in the gym). These should all subside after 5 days of being of going low carb. If after 7 days you're still suffering then check the following:
1. Protein may be too low - check how much protein you're ACTUALLY eating against what you NEED to be eating, if it's too low then take it up
2. Increase salt intake - Proteins needs to digested into their individual amino acids before being absorbed by cells. In order for these amino acids to be absorbed, sodium is needed, so higher protein diets do require a higher sodium intake. If you're feeling tired then take a look at you salt intake, you may find it's too low. It's one reason I recommend the nuts, as salted nuts can really help with this. Also try adding sea salt or himalayan pink salt to foods.
3. Increase fat intake - If you can rule out the two points above and you're still feeling miserable then take a look at your fat intake. If you're on the lowest intake (0.7g per/kg/bw) then it may be worth increasing to 0.9-1g per/kg/bw. This will also help give you a few more calories which you may well need.
With regards to results; it's not uncommon for most people to drop 1-2.5% body fat and 2-4kgs across these 10 days! So, good luck, stay strict over the next 10 days and then you'll be free to let your hair down and enjoy Christmas for what it's realy about; sharing good food and drink with close freinds and family.
From everyone here at Hall Training, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!
About Chris Hall
As the founder of Hall Training Systems, it is my mission to provide you with the very best personal training experience. I set up Hall Training Systems as Oxford's leading personal training service in nutrition, performance and weight loss, ensuring I can deliver the very best in training techniques.
You can find me on Facebook, Google+ or why not even give us a Tweet @Hall_Training