Question: Could Holiday Feasting be the Real Reason You Can’t Lose Weight…Ever?
It gets harder to lose weight as you get older. Hormonal changes account for some of it, but it’s also because as we age, we tend to put on more and more weight.
Increasing weight with time, together with hormone changes and reduced metabolic turnover is like a negative feedback loop – one factor feeding into the next and so on until something interrupts the cycle.
But why this added weight gain every year? Are people simply eating a few more calories per day then they burn? Many many people try dieting every year and still the weight creeps up on them with this slow but determined inertia.
Of course, I’m not talking about everyone. Some never have lost control of their weight. Others are successful in physical transformations, and many fluctuate. Nonetheless, most people fit the gain-weight-with-age category.
What if it wasn’t as complicated as you thought, what if it’s all down to a few weeks a year where you overeat, but never return to your previous weight?
For millions and millions of people, overeating during the holiday seasons is the root cause of the slow and steady increase in weight with age, beyond those explained by hormonal and metabolic changes.
Holiday Feasting and it Long Term Effects on Weight
How much weight do you think you put on at Christmas, Thanksgiving etc? Research suggests we can put on up to 500% more weight per holiday week than we do on non-holiday weeks.
Now, what if you didn’t lose that weight after the holidays like you say you are going to? In fact, think of it like this…
Every few weeks you overeat a bit, ie. you eat more calories than you expend. That’s manageable though, right. A bit of walking and some cut backs here and there and you would probably break even at least.
Imagine then that during Christmas week, no let’s increase that to two weeks at Christmas, and easter week (chocolate), Thanksgiving…all in all, perhaps 4 weeks a year, you put 5 times more weight on than regular weeks.
Now you are putting on several pounds from those weeks alone. Accumulate this every year, and you have serious weight gain after only a few years.
If you return to your usual routine after the holiday feasting, you might not actually be shifting your holiday weight in the months afterwards, like so many people promise themselves they will.
One study looked at the two months around Christmas and showed an average 0.5 kg weight gain in the subjects, and get this: the people who were already obese put more on than those who usually maintained a healthy weight.
So, perhaps it’s also the case that the heavier you get year on year, the more you eat each year during these festive seasons. More negative feedback.
Another study even says it plain as day: the weight gain during holiday seasons does not tend to be lost during the spring and summer months.
What Can I Do To Reduce Holiday Weight Gain?
Everyone loves a good feast during Christmas, and it takes a special individual to resist most of it and not feel their belt line tighten at all.
So instead of trying to fight the forces of nature and end up crying in the corner when everyone else is lying comatose from turkey and stuffing ingestion, is there way you can reduce the holiday weight gain?
It’s about the choices you make, when you’re stood, hovering over the family dining table, staring at eighty seven plates of food, a vat load of alcohol and a bunch of decadent desserts.
Firstly, don’t load the plate. The chances of overeating are dramatically increased when you put too much on your plate in the first place. My mum used to tell me I “had eyes bigger than my belly”.
And it’s true. Part of you carries on eating the plate of food even though you have satisfied any hunger you have twice over.
Secondly, studies show that when you do eat more than you need, it’s better to hit the sources of protein harder than anything else.
High protein diets – as in, high in proportion – are the best way to preserve muscle mass and reduce body fat when you are eating to maintenance or calorie deficit.
The same theory can be applied to eating at calorie surplus. The protein requires more energy to break down, i.e. it’s thermic effect is greater. It’s not just by a little bit either; protein requires much more energy to digest, absorb and store than carbs or fat.
Protein also preserves muscle mass, which is especially good for people who work out and yet want to enjoy the holiday festivities.
Another thing about protein is that it satisfies hunger fat more effectively than the less nutritions forms of carbohydrate rich foods – the potatoes, pasta, breads and whatever else is crammed on to the table.
Alcohol wise, stick to red wine or tequila (but probably best not to do both). A shot of tequila has about 2/3 the calories of vodka and way less than scotch, baileys and all the other holiday booze.
Red wine on the other hand has actual health benefits, not to mention good red wine is hard to beat taste wise. Just stick to a couple glasses rather than taking on the 2 litre box.
Desserts are tricky, but hopefully you’ve had enough turkey by that point that you can get away with minimal cake intake.
Ultimately, dessert control is down to you. I’m not a miracle worker here.