The Fat and the Furious: How not to gain weight during the holidays

The holidays are fast approaching. Cold weather and Christmas parties are in season, and that heraldsthe coming of the “other three” ghosts of Christmas: the ghosts of excessive sleeping,less physical activity andover eating, which in turn causes unwanted weight gain. Studies have shown that the fattest months of the year are December and September, though no one can give a definite scientific analysis as to why this is so.

Maybe it’s the holiday booze; maybe it’s all the good food and chocolates; or maybe it’s the cold weather. In any case, the fact is an overwhelming majority of the population gain some weight during the holidays. Winter clothes don’t make you look fat if you already are.

If you can’t beat ‘em, go on a diet?

There’s no point in fighting the urge to eat during this time of the year. Going on a diet and looking silly nibbling on a celery stick while everyone else is having a blast eating all the good food and drinking all the expensive wine will drive you nuts and make you feel deprived.

Oh, you can always tell yourself “I can always go on a diet next year”, but when next year? Do you have an exact date in mind or are you just winging it? Pounds add up, and when they do, the uphill climb to get rid of it becomes steeper.

You can also go out and pick up a cool waist shaper to help you hide and tuck the bulge little bit, but this should just be a temporary measure. There is a better way, and it doesn’t involve being a food Nazi,dieting only on specific foods and tedious calorie counting. There’s absolutely no need to lug around your Tupperware filled with food only you can eat.

Fast, Faster, Fasting

One proven strategy in the battle of the holiday bulge is to practice some form of fasting. This way, you can still eat whatever is on the table and drink a moderate amount of alcohol and fight the negative effects of excess calorie consumption.

How does fasting work? When you fast, you’re effectively restricting the amount of calories you ingest without necessarily counting them, so you’re dieting without even knowing it! Your food choices are also not limited to a single macronutrient, like in the Atkins Diet, where carbohydrates are considered evil and avoided like the plague. Studies have shown this is a false assumption. Carbs is not our enemy, its excessive calorie intake that makes us fat.

Fasting 101

Humans have been fasting for ages. It’s in the Bible, and Muslims do it during the holy month of Ramadan. Fasting practitioners have reported dramatic weight and fat loss, with little to no ill effects when fasting for an entire month.

There are many forms of fasting. You actually go on a short fast when you sleep. During sleep, you consume no calories and your body uses this time to shuttle nutrients from ingested food for muscle growth and tissue repair. When you have breakfast in the morning, you are essentially “breaking your fast”, hence its name.

If your last meal was at 8pm and you wake up and have breakfast at 7am, you have just “fasted” for 11 straight hours. While 11 hours is OK, extending this fasted state is even better for fat loss. When there’s no food to draw energy from, the first thing the body burns for fuel is your fat stores, which is great news for those who want to burn excess body fat from their bodies. Fasting also allows the body to naturally detoxify, getting rid of the toxins and giving your digestive system a much needed break from all the eating.

Have your cake and eat it

If you can go without food for 16 – 24 hours, you’re all set to lose unwanted weight and body fat. Studies have shown that the golden hours of fasting are in the 16-18 hour range. Going beyond 24 hours won’t do your body and mind any good though, so stick to 24 hours max of consuming no calories.

The most awesome thing about fasting is that after going 16+ hours without any food (water, black coffee and tea with no sugar are allowed) you can eat whatever you want, but of course, use your better judgment and eat as you would normally would and don’t stuff yourself with a box of doughnuts and 10 slices of pizza.

You can have some ice cream, cake and few glasses of wine. It’s the holidays for Pete’s sake!

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