Using holiday eating to your body’s advantage

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imageYou know you want to do it. You know you’re going to do it. It’s what makes the holidays the holidays. Eating piles of holiday food will happen. Here’s how to do it free of guilt.

This is not about how to minimize holiday weight gain. That has been addressed many times before, and it will no doubt be addressed many more times to come.

What we’re talking about here is how to use your increased holiday eating to the advantage of your training.

For many trainers, it’s just no fun being good at the buffet table all the time, much less during the holidays. It’s very easy to take the joy out of the season by restricting yourself too much.

So how about something different? Rather than forcing yourself to eat plain potatoes and dry turkey when your whole family is sitting down to a big holiday dinner, join in.

Here are steps to help you enjoy a holiday feast and to make it work for you, not against you.

Forgive Yourself In Advance
If you’re the type who feels guilty when you eat foods that aren’t great for you, try to set those notions aside. You want to make this a positive, guilt-free experience.

Reduce Your Calories Before Your Big Meals
By reducing your caloric intake before the big feasts, it’s much more likely that your body will use those excess calories to rebuild depleted stores rather than add to the ones that are already there.

Don’t starve yourself, or your body will panic and try to store everything it gets as fat. Just reduce.

Do A Hard, Heavy Workout As Close To Mealtime As You Can
Immediately after a hard workout, your body is desperate for raw materials to rebuild. This effect lasts for about three to four hours. Your body is primed for muscle growth during that time.

By doing your workout just before a big holiday dinner, all that food goes toward helping your body rebuild and recover from the workout. Very little, if any, of the excess calories you eat will be stored as fat under these conditions.

Try To Focus On Foods With Some Nutritional Value
Feel free to load your plate with turkey and mashed potatoes. These foods have a great deal of nutritional value to a trainer. Don’t hold back on them.

Increase Your Training Volume
What this basically means is do more sets for each muscle group. You may have to decrease your rest periods, or increase the number of training sessions to increase the volume.

Doing more sets–at least temporarily–will give your metabolism a kick-start. It will be especially effective if you’re doing a fairly low volume training program before switching. Your body will be desperate for food to rebuild, and a big holiday meal is just what the doctor ordered.

Don’t Go To Sleep After You Eat
It’s difficult, but you’re better off not napping after a big holiday meal. If you sleep, your body is more likely to store excess calories as fat, not muscle.

Sleep also slows down your metabolism, and you’ll digest your food a lot slower. Feel free to relax, but if you can help it, don’t fall asleep right away.

Schedule Another Heavy Workout For The Day After A Feast
After loading yourself up with carbs, fat and protein, your body is a nutrient-filled growth machine. Take advantage of your loading by doing another high-volume, heavy workout the day after that big holiday meal.

Take All The Leftovers People Are Willing To Give You
Stick to the more nutritious foods when you do this, such as meat, potatoes and vegetables. It beats cooking big meals for yourself for the next three days.

If You Bring Home Desserts, Save Them For Post-Workout Meals
Again, your body is primed for growth after a workout. Most desserts are filled with sugar.

After a workout, your body will suck up the sugar just like any other carb and not store it as fat. In fact, it will increase your insulin levels and help you store protein in your muscles!

Take these steps to heart, and you can pig out without feeling like a pig. Happy Holidays!

image Contributing blogger Troy Meyers is a certified personal trainer and sports conditioner with more than 10 years of experience. He owns Atlanta-based JockBoyLocker.com and contributes to the site’s Lockerroom Blog.

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