5 Ways to Keep the Holiday Belly at Bay

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Holiday season is upon us – follow these tips to keep your weight off this season!

Holiday season is here! You may be thinking “Uh oh, it’s that time of the year to gain weight…” Have no fear for the holiday weight gain this year! Phoenix Men’s Health Center is here to offer tips that can help you stay lean this holiday season (and keep lean after the holiday season). Try following these easy tips all throughout the holiday parties and family gatherings.

1. Exercise first thing in the morning

You’ve always wanted to be that person who wakes up every morning at 5AM and goes for a 5 mile run. You don’t have to be overzealous. Just stick to

20-30 minutes of exercise first thing in the morning

(before breakfast). Research shows that exercising first thing in the morning on an empty stomach helps to burn fat up to 20% more and decrease your motivation for food.1,2 Exercising in the morning increases your metabolism for the day along with other benefits, such as reducing stress, clearing your mind, and setting your day on the right path. You can start small, like taking a 20-minute walk outside or doing a short yoga routine in the morning. It will help keep the holiday belly at bay and help control your appetite through the day.

2. Keep your fiber and water intake up

Did you know that an average American gets less than half of their recommended fiber intake per day? Dietary fiber is an extremely important part of your diet. Fiber can help reduce cholesterol, reduce cravings, and increase healthy gut microflora, thus helping your immune system. Also,

fiber intake is inversely related to body mass index!3

Fruits, whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, and legumes are all good ways to increase your dietary fiber intake. In addition, you can easily find fiber supplements at your local grocery store, or purchase GI Revive, a higher quality fiber supplement that also soothes your gastrointestinal tract.

Drinking water of course has numerous other benefits, but it contributes to weight loss via two important mechanisms. Drinking water instead of not drinking other beverages alters metabolism by increasing energy expenditure, and drinking water instead of drinking other beverages (with calories; i.e. soda, alcohol) lowers the total energy intake. Studies suggest that increase in water consumption promotes weight loss.4 So, drink up (water)!

3. Eat BEFORE the party

Holiday party hosts want to please their guests – unfortunately this means they’ve prepared party foods that are high in calories, sugar, carbs, and more tempting than ever. By eating a healthy high protein meal before you leave for the party, you can curb your hunger and temptation at the party because

protein increases satiety and reduces hunger.5

Skipping dinner or waiting for a long time before the party knowing that there’s food at the party is a terrible idea. When you are hungry, ghrelin (also known as the “hunger hormone”) is released in the stomach. High levels of ghrelin decrease your decision making abilities and increase impulsivity,6 making it easier for you to fall off your diet wagon.

4. Hold the cocktail until after the meal

Alcohol has a special place in its ability to interfere with your weight loss goals. Although it may not seem like it,

alcohol is a high caloric food,

especially if you are drinking mixed drinks with lots of sugar. Alcohol is also known to impede with your ability to think and make decisions, and stimulates the hypothalamus (appetite control center in the brain), making you hungry and less likely to make healthy food choices.7 To add to the bad news, consuming alcohol while you are hungry can spike your insulin level, decreasing the blood sugar level and creating a recipe for weight gain. Drinking after eating a healthy meal will help you drink less, consume less sugar, and sleep better that night after the party.

5. Leave on time

Don’t be the last person standing at the party. It is completely acceptable to leave the party or the event at an appropriate time. Your host(s) will understand that this is a busy time of the year for everyone, whether it’s for holiday shopping, getting together with family, or well-needed rest. Leaving on time can help prevent continuous snacks or meal consumption and excess alcohol intake. This means less guilt, safer drive home, and less calories consumed. Not to mention you can go to bed early so you can exercise the next morning!

Bonus tip: Find ways to cope with holiday stress

Holidays can be a stressful time. Whether you are avoiding your more successful cousins, meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time, or hosting a huge party, make sure to take a deep breath and destress. Cortisol, a hormone primarily released when you are stressed, makes high caloric foods more rewarding.8 Identify your stressors beforehand and come up with what coping mechanisms work well for you to avoid stress eating. Exercising, meditation, and breathing practices are a good place to start.

This holiday season, follow these tips to avoid overeating and weight gain. Instead of telling yourself you’ll start your weight loss on New Year’s, why not start now? Phoenix Men’s Health Center specializes in men’s weight loss. If you are concerned about your weight, please make a call or click here to book an appointment. We will eliminate medical causes for weight gain and set you on a customized weight loss treatment plan.

References:

1. Gonzalez, J. Veasy, R., Rumbold, P., Stevenson, E. Breakfast and exercise contingently affect postprandial metabolism and energy balance in physically active males. British Journal of Nutrition, 2013
2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912161554.htm
3. Slavin, J. Dietary fiber and body weight. Nutrition. 2005
4. Stookey, J., Constant, F., Popkin, B., & Gardner, C. Drinking water is associated with weight loss in overweight dieting women independent of diet and activity. Obesity, 2008
5. Leidy, H., Lepping, R., Savage, C., Harris, C. Neural Responses to Visual Food Stimuli After a Normal vs. Higher Protein Breakfast in Breakfast-Skipping Teens: A Pilot fMRI Study. Obesity, 2011
6. Anderberg, R., et al. The Stomach-Derived Hormone Ghrelin Increases Impulsive Behavior. Neuropsychopharmacology, 2015
7. Caton, S., Ball, M., Ahern, A., & Hetherington, M. Dose-dependent effects of alcohol on appetite and food intake. Physiology & behavior, 2004
8. Adam, T., & Epel, E. Stress, eating and the reward system. Physiology & behavior, 2007

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