HI Fitness Fans,
I’ve been getting a bunch of emails lately asking what to do over the Holidays to stay on track with diet and exercise and how NOT to gain weight. You’re probably wondering what can possibly be done from now until Jan 1st to help fight the battle of the bulge that is about to take place.
A LOT…. But Start NOW! And then keep going….
Here are my tips and resources that will help you stay on track over Thanksgiving weekend, and the holidays, and may actually help you burn the fat while eating your apple pie:
DO THE ZIG ZAG
What? Some kind of new workout move? Not really. It’s more like a shuffle…of your calories.
Back when I was bodybuilding, and counting calories, it was common to cycle the amount of carbs and calories we would eat during the week, eating a few days of calories below our baseline metabolic rate, and then a ‘cheat’ day way above, and then back to our baseline. As the contest got closer and we needed to make weight class the baseline would be lowered, but always fluctuating the daily calories with highs and lows on different days of the week, to balance out the total calories for that week.
Some days would be base metabolic rate, while others would dip 300-500 below or 300-500 above that rate over the course of 5-7 days. The overall weekly caloric intake would average out to what our goal base metabolic rate was determined to be in order to lose body fat while maintaining lean muscle - and get those ripped abs.
The great thing was there was always one big’cheat’ day where we could eat anything we wanted. For me it was like Thanksgiving day, but of Pancakes…a lot of pancakes!
Although our diets were precisely manipulated during competitions, the same principal can be used around the holiday season. I mean, what’s the first thing on most of our minds for the next 6 weeks? OK, besides the holiday gifts! You guessed it……..Not gaining weight during the Holidays, right?
HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO
Zig Zag , or Calorie Cycling, is similar.
In a nutshell: Since our bodies are meant to survive famine and hold on to fat when it thinks it is is starving – like when we diet – it will also lower it’s metabolism. And if your metabolism slows down then your body will not burn fat for fuel, but rather store it instead. (Note: Future blog…make sure to check back soon).
Hey! Isn’t that the exact opposite of what we want?
Yes, my friend it is. But here’s the concept…
FEAST WITHOUT THE FAMINE
With Zig Zag, or what’s called calorie cycling, the theory is that your body never has a chance to store the extra calories as fat if you cycle your calories. Some days are higher and some are lower, but all adding up to meet your target caloric intake for that week. You are tricking your body into thinking it’s not dieting, so there is less chance of holding on to fat. This is not the case if you lower your calories for too long a period and maintain them at that low number while also continuing a weight/fat loss program . (Hmmm! Make Note: Another follow up blog, so check back soon).
There is very little research done on this and it is all very much anecdotal in evidence but I can swear from my own experience and that of many of my client’s, including Paul Piotrowski, (who was on it for a short period and did see some results), that cycling calories, if done correctly, will trick your metabolism into a fat burning machine. And psychologically, I think it’s easier to stick to a diet when there is a ‘cheat’ day.
IF You Could Have It All
According to my friend Mike O’Donnell,, over at The IF Life, you can. It’s called Intermittent Fasting. He even wrote a book on it. Basically you’re eating less around the days you are partaking in pumpkin and cream pies.
Here’s what Mike, over at IF says:
So if you know a party is coming up, eat a little less the day before(focus more on low calorie foods like leaner proteins, fruits and vegetables) and the day after so you do not have a calorie surplus over the long run! Eat less meals to get there, such as 2 meals. This is the simple strategy that you can also apply to your year-round lifestyle. Using intermittent days to eat less and and still enjoy foods you like while losing weight.
And, of course, the trick for the long term with any meal plan is to stay on track with Real Whole Foods.
YOU REALLY ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Counting calories is not for everyone. You have to be quite dedicated on a plan like this. But even if you don’t stick to a program such as this one it’s a great place to start. Now is a good time to get to know the true amount of what’s going down your gullet daily.
Do you really think you eat at your baseline metabolic rate to maintain your current weight?
Have you ever wondered why you are not losing weight? Or are you losing weight but your body has turned all squishy?
Have you noticed you now are 2 pants sizes larger?
Is this YOU?
Did you know that research has shown that most people eat 25% more than what they think is their baseline. So that can add up week after week, year after year, especially over the holidays if you don’t balance it out.
So fear not my friends. With some careful planning and some useful online tools you can still eat your treats for the holiday while warding off the unwanted weight and trick out your metabolism to make your body look and feel sweet.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS
Let’s use me as an example. I weigh 124 lbs and I’m 5’6″. Using this online calculator we come up with these numbers in the chart below. Keep in mind that I am choosing to maintain my current weight. As you can see from the table below on Wednesday I would be able to eat 2506 calories; over 500 calories more from my target base of 2088. YUM! YUM!
|Ex Fat Loss||Fat Loss||Maintain|
|*Calorie cycling provides same amount of calories per week, but ‘tricks’ your body by constantly changing daily calories. This helps to prevent or break plateaus. Guideline only.This is also taking my activity level into consideration. Get get the point? I can sample some sweets while I still attack fat!
And You Can Too!
You may have to do a little bit of homework over the holidays and work out the math.
But go ahead and gulp some eggnog guilt free.
It might be a challenge for some of you. But I recommend you read up on IF and give calorie cycling a try over the next 6 weeks. You may even lose weight and burn fat while your at it.
Make it ‘Your Fit Day’ With Debby K!
Are you up for the challenge?
Leave your comments below.