A quick guide to surviving the holiday calories

By Klyde Manansala | Photo from Gor Davtyan/Unsplash

With the holiday season lurking just around the corner, your mind might already be clouded with the thought of how to avoid gaining weight—or perhaps how to stave off the unwanted pounds and calories with more intense exercises.

The thing is, the idea of exercising harder and longer will torch all the holiday weight you gained is a misconception. “But I’m supposed to lose weight after increasing the volume of my exercise, right?” Well, it doesn’t work that way.

Normally, at the start of the new season, you’re in the mood to put in extra work to get back into shape. However, when the training volume rises, your body also adapts and your hunger level goes up, too. So, the more you do tough workout sessions, the more you will feel the need to eat in order to regain the energy you lost.

“Even though the offseason is a time for relaxation, you will have to be a little more diligent and aware of what you are eating

Which is why research suggests that you shouldn’t bank on an increased volume of training to lose weight, especially during the start of the season. Instead, the perfect time could actually be in the offseason when the amount of your training is more moderate.

“Lowering weight, fat or muscle, requires a reduction in energy intake, and to do this effectively during the season is risky as you are potentially reducing energy levels as well. Even though the offseason is a time for relaxation, you will have to be a little more diligent and aware of what you are eating,” the study says.

But you don’t have to stress out too much during the holidays too. You can get through the season without gaining weight, especially if you incorporate time to work out. 

Don’t Rely on Carbohydrates

Food rich in carbohydrates can benefit you during the season, but if you fail to burn them off, they will eventually get stored as fat. So instead of eating too much carbohydrates to fuel your workout, eat vegetables, fruits, proteins, and healthy fats. You don’t have to worry too much about calories if you consume whole and plant-based foods without dairy or foods with less sugar.

To maintain weight, an average man should consume  2,000 calories per day while an average woman should take 1,500 calories. A typical holiday dinner alone can go over 3,000 calories . Even with fat, an advisable range of fat consumption per day is around 30 grams, but with all the lechon, ham, spaghetti, leche flan, pork barbeque, crispy pata, queso de bola and so much more food offered on the table, you might consume more than 200 grams of fat in one sitting. But it’s still possible for you to partake in delicious holiday feasts, you just have to be smart about it.

“Instead of eating too much carbohydrates to fuel your workout, eat vegetables, fruits, proteins, and healthy fats. You don’t have to worry too much about calories if you consume whole and plant-based foods without dairy or foods with less sugar

The first trick is to eat only if you’re hungry and eat until you are full. Eat fresh green salads but avoid the fatty salad dressing, instead, opt for balsamic vinegar as it’s low in cholesterol and can make you feel full longer. During breakfast, choose whole grain cereals, oatmeal, or fruits so you won’t feel too hungry later in the day.

Instead of drinking whole milk, choose skim milk. Use sugar substitutes to replace sugar in a certain recipe. Just by using lower-calorie ingredients, you can enjoy your food without feeling guilty. There are a lot of tricks you can pull out of your bag to avoid holiday weight gain—again, you just have to be smart about it.

HIIT Is the Key 

You don’t have to engage in an hour of endurance training. Just because offseason is the best time to shed off weight doesn’t mean you have to up the volume of your training (everything in moderation). But as you work out, it’s vital to add short but high intensity workouts. HIIT is a workout that requires all-out effort but burns more fat in less time. It can last for as quick as 15 minutes and still have the same effect. This can also increase metabolism, so calories are burned even hours after the workout has ended.

A 25-minute HIIT workout is recommended to burn 500 calories: 1 minute, 30 seconds of burpees; 1 minute, 30 seconds of squat jumps; 1 minute, 30 seconds of pendulums; 1 minute, 30 seconds of band jumps; and 1 minute, 30 seconds of bicep curls with bands, according to Agostina Laneri, a TrainersVault trainer. “This sequence hits your whole body and the fast transitions keep your heart going, that way, even when the workout is over, you’ll still be burning calories.”