It starts at Christmas and relentlessly persists into January—office parties, family dinners, and holiday gatherings, all of which can put a squeeze on both your training time and the waist band of your jeans.
To survive the endless eating (and drinking) opportunities without getting fat, follow these five best strategies for staying on track with training and keeping weight steady, while at the same time enjoying the seasonal festivities
1. Eat breakfast. Skipping meals, especially breakfast, may lead to overeating later in the day along with the faulty rationalisation that you “deserve” to indulge. A good breakfast includes protein and fibre to keep you feeling satisfied. Best bets include oatmeal with nuts, Greek yoghurt with raspberries, multi-grain toast with almond butter. (Need more convincing for a.m. meals? Check out these 5 Reasons Runners Need Breakfast.)
2. Run early. While this may mean setting an earlier alarm, morning workouts help you stay on schedule. Your afternoon or early evening run plans are more likely to get derailed by impromptu parties or last-minute shopping expeditions. (Here is more advice on how to get out the door earlier.)
3. Boost the intensity. Kick up your running pace for a few minutes at a time during a normal run or add an extra workout per week (like a bodyweight workout) to help burn more calories. The added intensity may boost your metabolism and the extra calorie burning helps offset a holiday cookie or two.
4. Eat often. That is, every few hours up until party time. Regular meals and small snacks not only help fuel your training but they keep your brain fed and your decision-making keen. Getting overly hungry only sets you up for a not-smart buffet binge later. For better appetite control, be sure to include protein at each meal from healthy sources such as soymilk, roasted turkey, or low-fat cheese.
5. Plan ahead. If you can find out ahead of time what food will be served at your holiday party, you can plan both what you’ll eat at the party and how to eat beforehand.
At parties, keep your distance from the appetizers to minimise mindless nibbling and choose holiday specialties (Christmas cookies!) over everyday snacks (cheese and crackers).
At buffet tables, survey the selection before getting in line and choose five dabs of your favorites.
At sit-down dinners, think of your plate as a clock and make sure you serve yourself “45 minutes” of vegetables, fruit salad, and whole grains and reserve “15 minutes” for lean protein (sauces on the side).