The festive time of year is when we tend to socialise more, and with this free flow of food and drink often comes weight gain. There are measures we can put in place to limit the damage and if done correctly in most cases maintain our current weight while still keeping sane by allowing ourselves to enjoy Christmas and the New Year. Our advice would be keep it sociable yet sensible!
First off we need to make sure that we are using a food diary app (myfitnesspal) this way we can factor in drinking and eating out. If we pre plan, and account for what passes our lips there is always a system for coping. It just requires a little thought. Below i will run through some methods that many practitioners have applied, and some of which i have used myself with great benefit.
Let's establish one thing first. 1g of alcohol is 7 calories. These calories have no nutritional benefit but they still add up. So when planning your nights out take this into consideration to your overall calorie intake. If you drink shorts then add to this the choice of mixer. Opt for the diet options or even tonic/sodas. These are the least calorie dense. It's very easy to use the wrong mixers and over indulge on your drinks, smashing through your normal calorie intake often doubling what you should. This can ruin your weekly average calorie intake (resulting installing your progression or even potentially gaining weight) If you are going to drink beer, take a more mature outlook and go for the bottled versions instead of pints, be conservative with your calorie expenditure!
The first way to limit damage is to use what is called “borrowing”. In effect you borrow calories from another day and add them to the day on which you will be socialising.
For example your daily calorie intake is 2000. Your going out on the Saturday, so what you could do is “borrow” calories from the Friday or the Sunday and add them to Saturdays total. A standard for this would be somewhere in the 20-25% region. It would look something like this
25% of 2000 calories = 500
Add this to the day your socialising (Saturday) this now gives us 2500 calories to play with, leaving you with 1500 calories to hit for either the day before or after your night out. This will still equate to the same number of calories in your weekly total, just you've distributed them to accommodate your socialising
Another option is to keep all calories the same and just factor in the drinking by allowing a total of approximately 15% of your daily calories to be dedicated to the alcohol. Again we will use the same 2000 calorie figure as the example below
Daily intake 2000 calories. 15% of this = 300 calories. Meaning your left with 1700 for you food plan and the 300 calories is given to the alcohol.
Finally your third option is to merely guestimate your nighttime splurge by simply going protein and vegetables in the daytime, and under eating on them slightly leaving room for later on. By doing this you can allocate more carbohydrates and fats to the evening meal and some drinks. My usual recommendations for this would be to allow the following in a evening meal
1-2 servings of protein (approx 40-60g)
2-4 servings of carbs (approx 100-150g)
2-3 servings of fat (approx 30-50g)
This should cover the fact that your going to be consuming sensible portions and not eating everything off the menu. If you take this approach you should be able to enjoy 2-3 courses and a few drinks, without it affecting serious weight gain.
Please bear in mind that eating out you will be consuming things that you don't know the ingredients of or how they have been cooked. So your scale weight can fluctuate due to sodium content etc, but if you keep to your existing principles for the majority of the time this will only mostly be water weight which will fall away after a couple of days, so don't not stress over this!
It's all about balance, the aim of the game this time of year is to continue your progress in the gym, while controlling any possible damage done from over indulging outside of it. Take a mindful approach to eating and drinking, make the conscious effort and above all enjoy the festive period. Just make sure you don't throw away 11 months of hard work in 4 weeks of careless calorie intake.
We would also like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happy New Year, and we thank all of you who have engaged with us this past year whether it be through training in our gym or simply reading our articles. Thanks!