Something I’ve learnt over the years is that the silly season isn’t just defined by the period across Christmas and New Years when most people are away. The silly season starts in November and carries on through to some time later in January. So let’s revisit some silly season nutrition and training tips.
For me, it’s pretty straightforward – if you’d like to hold on to the changes you’ve made until now you simply keep doing what you have been. But I get it, it’s a festive time, it’s been a challenging year and you’d like to kick back. You should!
I always say that you’re going to be away for a month at the most. That’s just one month. It’s nothing relative to your lifetime, and about 5% of your training time during the year, IF you were consistent throughout the year. If you weren’t consistent, then you shouldn’t be worrying about losing all your gains during the holidays…..because you don’t have any gains!
So relax, enjoy your food and live well. But at the same time, I’d like to see you keep at least one foot on the wagon because if you do come off it entirely, it can take a very long time to get just that one foot on again.
Here are some tips to help you. Remember that it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, and keep it simple.
Protein and Fat
Aim to get a moderate amount in at all meals and snacks. It keeps you satiated so you’re less likely to snack, and protein has a thermic effect so it keeps your metabolism ticking over. If you’re not doing any physical activity that day, have a bit less than you normally would.
A reminder: All veges and fruit, all starches, fruit juices, baking, sweets and chocolates, ice-cream, and all grain-based products end up the same way – as sugar. The goodies, however, spike blood sugar and therefore insulin, stimulating the storage of fat, especially if you aren’t exercising much.
Have the goodies, but make that your carb for that meal or snack. If you are training, have your goodies after training. Put simply, if you plan on having treats, have less or none of the ‘good carbs’ to keep total carb intake similar to what it would be normally. But don’t avoid the veges, roots, tubers and fruit entirely because you need the fibre, mineral and nutrients.
There isn’t a particular amount of water that you should be having. Drink if you’re thirsty and avoid sports drinks and off-the-shelf fruit juices. Opt for a freshly squeezed juice and avoid sodas as much as possible. Tea and coffee does contribute to your fluid intake. Alcohol does not so avoid using it as your hydration 😉
You don’t have to train as much or as intensely as you would normally to maintain your fitness. In fact, the down time will do your mind and body good. But keep active as a way of expressing your fitness. Play sports, hike, cycle, swim, and try different stuff. Walking can be especially beneficial. Go for brisk, long walks every day if you aren’t doing any other physical activity.
Eat for Yourself
If your mates or partners can have a burger, fries and milkshake for lunch everyday without much ill-effect, it doesn’t mean that the same will happen to you. Be realistic about your body’s response to foods, and eat accordingly.
I personally consider holidays a time for (more) food and lots of sleep. So don’t geek out too much about what you’re eating while away!
Controlling your nutrient intake by way of calculating your macronutrient (macro) or caloric intake undoubtedly helps to ensure you’re eating enough to support your levels of activity while preventing excess body fat, if you have the right mindset. There are an array of methods to determine those numbers, but today I’d like to touch on two ways of managing those numbers.
Prospective management involves calculating your macro/caloric intake numbers and then ensuring that your food is weighed and counted before you consume it. Aside from the calculation, this of course requires preparing meals and snacks ahead of time, having a food scale in the kitchen, and knowing how many of each type of macro you’ll be consuming for a particular amount of food.
With retrospective management you calculate how many macros/calories you consumed after having the food. As the day goes on you try to meet your intake requirements based on what you have already eaten and what you ‘have left’ to eat. In this instance you do still need to calculate your intake numbers in advance and have that plugged into an app or at the very least a spreadsheet, and you do still need to use a resource that provides the nutritional information for the food you’re eating.
As with everything, there are pros and cons to both methods. With prospective management you know what you’ve got to eat and you have either have it prepared in advance or you have your plate on the scale while dishing your food up. You’re less likely to eat more than you should. But, that does require some ‘work’ on your behalf.
There’s less prep work with retrospective nutrition management. The work comes in ensuring that you log the food you ate after every meal and snack. The downside is that you might end up with a big deficit in one of your macronutrients at the end of the day. You then end up ‘making it up’ with convenient sources of food, and convenient is rarely healthy.
A big plus to both methods is that they teach you about portion control. You eventually learn how to eyeball your portions and you also get better at listening to your body–you learn to eat when you hungry and stop eating before consuming too much. More importantly, both methods have the potential to work.
It all comes down to you, though. Which method suits your lifestyle and personality traits better? The better the fit, the more likely you are to sustain the habits. They aren’t quick fixes either. If you adhere to either method for at least 80% of the time, you’ll be setting yourself up for ongoing success.
Neither approach is laborious. You just need to understand the hows and whys, and that’s why we offer individually tailored nutrition coaching. Get in touch to enquire about that.
Okay I know I’ve had a lot of the “one thing to change” posts recently, but that should highlight that improving your nutrition isn’t difficult. It takes a several small, simple changes. This one really is easy.
READ. Read nutrition labels. Specifically the ingredients list and macronutrient profile.
If it has an ingredients list, it’s not natural or ‘organic.’ If you couldn’t grow it, it didn’t have eyes, ears, a nose and a mouth, or it didn’t come from something that had eyes, ears, a nose and a mouth, it’s not natural. If it has an ingredient list it was manufactured, by humans.
The items at the beginning of the ingredients list are the predominant ingredients. So if sugar comes first, the product is primarily made of sugar.
Just because it says ‘no sugar added’ doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have sugar. There are about 50 different ways to label sugar on foods:
Barley malt, beet syrup, buttered syrup, cane juice crystals, caramel, corn syrup, carob syrup, dextran, dextrose, diastatic malt, diatase, ethyl maltol, fructose, fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate, galactose, glucose, glucose solids, golden syrup, honey, high fructose corn syrup, lactose, maltodextrin, maltose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, panocha, refiner’s syrup, rice syrup, sorbitol, sorghum syrup, sucrose, sugar, treacle…..
And read the label BEFORE you eat it. It pays to know what you’re putting in your mouth.
Consistency is key, right? You need to consistently eat well and train to get results. Consistency is defined as the quality of always doing something in a similar way–keeping the same. For example, training at least three times a week and only having two treat meals a week might be what you need to consistently do to get results. There’s a problem with consistency, though. It gets derailed easily.
Here is an example of great consistency getting derailed.
You’ve been having only two treat meals a week for a couple of months and are feeling great. Your body fat percentage is down and the headaches from too much sugar are even gone. And then you have a social event to attend, a Christmas party. So you ‘let your hair down’ and have a bender. A b.e.n.d.e.r! You feel sorry for yourself on the next day so you comfort yourself with more
drugsbad food. Monday comes and you haven’t prepared any food because of the weekend’s activities. You buy some “healthy” convenient snacks and meals, and that’s what you do for the rest of the week because you’ll only have time for shopping on the weekend.
You make it to the supermarket on the weekend, but by then the taste of
cocainesugar is back. You’re off the rails.
It might sound a bit dramatic, but it’s a scenario I’ve witnessed far too many times in my 15 years in this industry. Consistency gets you going. Persistence is what keeps you going.
Persistence is defined as continuing on the course of action in spite of difficulty. It’s getting right back on track after having a bender, and after all the setbacks and detours that life will throw at you.
Our definition of fitness is increased work capacity across many activity types and durations through life. Lifelong health and fitness. So you are able to go snowboarding in your 70s, play sports with your grandchildren, and get yourself out of bed until the day you die.
A few six week challenges or one year of good training isn’t enough to get you there. Persistently working on your health and fitness–your nutrition, training, recovery and lifestyle habits–will.
The dehydration dogma is universal: It’s dangerous so you need to drink a lot of fluids, especially in extreme conditions such as heat and exercising for long periods.
For decades the prevailing advice from sports coaches, the media and most notoriously, the companies who manufacture ‘sports’ drinks and supply bottled water, has been to drink at least eight glasses of water a day and to constantly sip on (hypotonic) sports drinks before and during bouts of exercise. These are myths that just won’t die.
Where do these myths come from?
There is certainly no good research behind either approach. It’s believed that the eight glasses of water a day myth stems from a recommendation by the Food and Nutrition Board in ‘Murica for people to consume at least 2.5 litres of water a day. What everyone neglected to do was continue reading beyond that recommendation. The board followed that recommendation with advice that most of that water would come from food. Whether you call it a misunderstanding or misdirection, it’s unsubstantiated. Much like the advice to drink copious amounts of sports drinks during exercise.
Aside from staying hydrated, the culture of drinking lots of fluids during exercise and sports is founded on beliefs that it will prevent heat stroke and exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMC). EAMC are most likely caused by neurological changes brought on by fatigue – NOT due to an undue loss in water and electrolytes. Knocking down gallons of water or sports drinks will not prevent or stop the cramps, and it could kill you.
The body’s innate systems for measuring water and electrolyte concentrations are finely tuned. When you need water, that system tells you so by inducing thirst. The eight glasses a day and sports drink advocates will tell you that it’s too late if you’re already thirsty, but we’ve already called their BS 😉
It is dangerous to become dehydrated, but that is why the body will induce thirst if water levels begin dropping below normal. What most don’t know, however, is that hyperhydration (too much water) is just as dangerous and arguably more prevalent than dehydration.
Hyponatremia occurs when a person drinks so much hypotonic fluid, like water and sports drinks, that blood sodium levels decrease. In bad cases the excess fluid floods the lungs and brain. Much like dehydration, hyponatremia can be fatal.
Therefore, to stay adequately hydrated you should drink when you’re thirsty. The best fluid is of course water, but hot drinks like tea and coffee do contribute to your daily fluid intake. Avoid fizzy drinks, fruit juices and concentrates. Eat vegetables everyday along with some fruit – they provide a lot of water. If you are exposed to extreme environmental conditions such as heat and altitude, or are exercising for long durations, you are still more likely to experience hyponatremia than dehydration so keep drinking to thirst.
It should go without saying that drinking soda during an endurance event is a no-go, but the fact that soda companies support fitness events and are the largest producers of bottled water should indicate that these hydration myths are no coincidence.
Posts tagged with ‘diet’