4 Strategies To Beat The Christmas Bulge
The Christmas Bulge is inevitable, right? Everybody I know appears to put on at least ½ stone over the Christmas period every year. I mean, come on., it stands to reason that eating all that pudding and drinking all that booze is bound to result in weight gain. There’s just no escape... or is there?
In my last post, I explained to you ‘How The Christmas Festivities Lead to Rapid Weight Gain’. I laid out how blood sugar management lies at the heart of the matter and showed you the five ways blood sugar is screwed up by lifestyle. In this post, I want to show you 4 Strategies to Beat the Christmas Bulge because you can enjoy yourself and still come out the other side in, at least, the same shape and size!
Freeze Your Fat Off
Walk the Pounds Away
Put Down Your Knife and Fork
Breakfast Like a King and Lunch Like A Queen
#1: Freeze Your Fat Off
No, I am not talking about that silly cryo-laser that day spa’s around the country have popularised the last few years. If only it were that simple. Instead, I’m asking you to get physically cold by taking a cold shower. Not an ice shower, just a cold one! Cold Showers are awesome for so many reasons but keeping to the subject, getting cold boosts metabolism and improves blood sugar regulation. Technically you don’t freeze your fat off but you do burn calories, control blood sugar better and help to keep that weight in check over the festive period!
How does it work? Think about it really simply for a moment.
When you are cold, your body has to work hard to warm you up (*otherwise you die from hypothermia). That hard work takes energy. Energy is produced by cells and the building blocks of energy is blood sugar (oxygen and water too). By taking a cold shower in the morning, you use up more blood sugar throughout the day helping to stabilise. This in turns helps to keep the weight in check.
There are a few nuances to the method here.
The most recent research shows that you need just 11 minutes of a cold exposure per week to boost metabolism, improve blood sugar regulation and stay lean. That 11 minutes can be spread throughout the week. The way I like to do it is to take a Contrast Shower (hot then cold) with a 3-minute Hot to 1-minute Cold ratio. That means you need two rounds of 3:1 daily to accrue 14 minutes of cold exposure per week. I like to keep the numbers simple and deliver more than needed just in case! Remember to always finish on cold water so you keep that furnace burning inside you all day long.
Cold exposure, by the way, means 15°C (59°F) or less. This is easily attainable considering the tap water in Ireland is 10°C or less during the winter. So you don’t need to worry about the cold, just turn that shower all the way down and guarantee yourself those results!
#2: Walk the Pounds Away
Simple and very effective, walking is a great calorie burner and helps to manage your blood sugars. It also moves every joint in your body with each step, keeping you supple over the Festive period. If you want to do the absolute bare minimum then go for a 20minute power walk just after your meal. The movement will aid digestion of your food and stoke your metabolism to burn more of it off. An ideal amount of time to get your walk on is an hour every day.
If you wanted to stack your habits, then go for a walk without one or two of your outer layers. The cold air combined with walking stimulates your metabolism strongly and favours a better response.
To triple your benefits, go for your walk early in the morning, preferably, at first light. In Ireland, that’s about 7.30am. Viewing daylight early in the day sets up your Circadian Rhythm, improves sleep and decreases stress. All great things for helping you to manage holiday stress, reduce cravings and beat the Festive bulge.
#3: Put down Your Knife And Fork
One of my kids wolfs her food down. Eating to her is like throwing rubbish down a shoot. She takes a large fork full of food and with one big gulp, it’s gone. The food slowly meanders down her throat making its way to her stomach to be processed. The only problem is that her stomach was not designed to process such large chunks of food. Long term if she was to continue this habit it could result in malformation of the jaw, teeth extractions, digestive problems and gut disease. Yes, it’s that serious.
Knowing these consequences, my solution was to ask her to place her knife and fork on her table mat between each bite and she wasn’t allowed to take another forkful until she’d finished chewing her previous one.
The results were phenomenal. Within one meal she made that change and it also changed the whole meal dynamics. It turns out that placing your knife and fork down between bites creates a lovely atmosphere in the room, it encourages conversation, aids digestion and helps you to listen to your body. Importantly for us, it’s the last two points I want to pick up on the most.
According to research, chewing your food up to 40 times is more effective at preparing food for your body and decreasing obesity than chewing it 15 times.
40 times! Have you ever tried that?
I have, it takes ages! But by chewing food this often, your body can properly use that food for energy and rebuilding as required. It also gives your body time to know when it is full. Typically, that signal occurs around twenty minutes after the meal begins but it’s different for everyone. By eating slowly, you allow time for your body to begin processing the food and realise when it is full. The result is that you eat less food in the meal and manage your weight better long term.
The easiest way to eat slowly I have found is not to count the number of times you’ve chewed your food but simply to place your knife and fork down between each bite.
#4: 3 Squares & Breakfast like a King
I know fasting and intermittent fasting is popular these days for weight loss but these things are better off ingrained away from the holiday period. Otherwise, the added pressure of fasting could result in a backlash from your brain! When it comes to normalising blood sugars and maintaining weight through the Christmas period, there is nothing quite like eating three square meals. When it comes to breaking down these meals, there are some things you can affect and others you can’t.
Whether you are at home or out and about, your festive dinner will take care of itself of course. It’s to be enjoyed and shared in the company of your family and friends without any strings attached. If you really wanted to do your best, the only suggestion I would make is that you have a starter. Starters are typically full of goodness, contain less energy than desserts and result in fewer cravings too. By eating a starter, you’ll be less likely to eat dessert and nobody will be any the wiser!
It’s the two other meals of the day where you can really make the gains though. I suggest eating a large breakfast and a medium lunch packed full of protein. The regular meals help to keep blood sugars balanced and cravings at bay through the day and the protein further enhances this effect.
Back in 2015, a carbohydrate breakfast was compared to a protein based one over the course of seven days. In both cases, the second meal of the day was the same standard meal. In the study the carbohydrate breakfast showed a larger rise in blood glucose after the first meal when compared to the protein breakfast. The Carbohydrate breakfast also showed a ‘second-meal phenomenon’, where the effects of the second meal were magnified by the results of the first. In other words, a carbohydrate breakfasts increases blood sugars more than a protein breakfast and it keeps them higher for longer when followed by a second meal.
It turns out you can have a fun festive feast and keep the bulge at bay after all.
These 4 strategies to beat the Christmas bulge are simple, effective, and very doable. The more of them you put in place, then the better shape you’ll be in: come the new year.
Happy Christmas Everyone, make it a great one!
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