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The Truth Behind Christmas Weight Gain - It just may surprise you!

[Weight gain over Christmas]

[Weight gain over Christmas]

With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas and New Year only days ahead, it’s an exciting but also nerve-wracking time for those trying to maintain weight lost over the year or even for those wanting to continue to lose weight.

It is commonly reported in the tabloids that most people put on a shocking 5 lbs. or 2.2kg over the Christmas period. It’s not uncommon for our clients to avoid weighing themselves to try and avoid the damage. But does this statistic actually hold up?

Well, the good news is that it may not. A study focusing on the holiday period found that weight gain between September and March was actually pretty insignificant. Weight was taken in the pre-holiday period, holiday period and post-holiday period in 195 adults. It found that holiday weight gain came to an average of only 0.48kg, not nearly as high as reports above [1]. Another more recent study looking at weight gain over Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas in different countries also backed the above study, showing weight gain of between 0.6-0.8kg over the holiday periods [2]. 

Most of the weight gain you may see straight after the festive period (the week bewteen Christmas and New Year) is water weight from the extra salt and carbohydrate consumed through all the meat,chocolate and alcohol - Yum! So, some might say we should all stop fretting and enjoy the Christmas period for what it is. A time to enjoy ourselves a celebrate another year! 

Though there is another way to look at it. It really has become a ritual in most countries to relax as the year comes to an end, with the plan being to start fresh and tackle the world (and your waist line!) in the New Year. It is a cycle that we all follow year in year out. But if we do this every year and then don’t quite manage to stick to the diet that’s planned, there’s a chance that this cycle is causing a slow increase in our weight year-on-year that goes unnoticed until five to 10 years down the line.

Weight gain in adulthood is common. No one is expected to be the same size they were at 18 when they turn 30. But why?

This is when that 0.6-0.8kg holiday weight gain may be more significant than it seems. 165 participants in the first study above came back for a follow up the following September. It was reported that most had not lost this small holiday weight gain since the last festive period. Now going into another holiday period, they will be facing another almost 1kg weight gain. Making a total of almost 2kg. Again it may seem insignificant, but go 10 years down the line and it’s looking more important. Something to keep in mind as the New Year rolls in.

At Hall Training our advice would be to kick back and relax over the holiday period, enjoy your time with family and friends. The marginal weight gain is worth it to save yourself from being miserable, but get back into gear in the New Year and find that old training/eating regime to prevent the slow increase in weight year-on-year. As the famous saying goes, "It's not what you eat between Christmas and New Year that's important, but what you eat between New Year and Christmas". 

1. Jack A. Yanovski, Susan Z. Yanovski, et al. A prospective study on holiday weight gain. N Engl J Med. (2015)
2. Helander EEWansink BChieh A. Weight gain over the holidays. N Engl J Med. (2015)

Posted on 21st December 2016, 10:06 AM by Becky HodgsonReport this post
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