Let’s face it: Christmas season is about being with family, friends and loved ones. It’s not about obsessively counting calories. And yet the weight you put on over the festive season can take five months to lose, according to Cornell University research.
Trainer Nick L’Barrow, 9Round club manager for the Bowen Hills studio, shares his tips on how to navigate your yuletide shenanigans in peak shape.
Keep Your Batting Average High
If you consider the bigger picture then you indulge guilt-free – as long as make the necessary corrections elsewhere.
“Think of eating your meals like a batting average,” Nick says. “So if you eat three meals a day, seven days a week, that’s 21 meals. If 18 of those meals are really good, then it’s OK to be indulging in those other three meals.”
In other words it’s about retaining a glimmer of perspective and proportion. Remember that Christmas is just one day, not a month-long free-for-all.
Make a pre-emptive strike
Christmas parties, long lunches, boozy sessions in the pub. The silly season is wildly calorific.
Nick’s personal method of coping is to balance that out by establishing some healthy groundwork in the lead-up during November and early December
“So during that period, my number of healthy meals a week might go up to 20. Or I might train four times a week instead of three.”
The idea here is simply to take pre-emptive action to offset the inevitable carnage to come.
Stay conscious of liquid calories
You’re going to have a few drinks on Christmas day (if only to put up with your idiot brother-in-law).
“If you’re starting around lunch time, going through all night, you can knock back six to 10 beers easy,” says Nick. “They’re liquid calories so they go down a lot easier and you won’t feel full either.”
The long-standing guideline for calories is this: for active adults aged 31-50, men need 2800 to 3000 calories daily. A single bottle of James Squire 150 Lashes Pale Ale contains 140 calories.
Doing the maths isn’t very encouraging. Polishing off a six-pack is effectively like having an extra meal – it’s harder to absorb that when your actual meals over Christmas are likely to far more gluttonous that usual.
So avoid bingeing on the following.
“There are definitely a few extremely high calorie Christmas foods worth limiting consumption of,” says Nick. Here are his six biggest waistline saboteurs.
Mince pies Despite its illusion of being fruit-based, with a single mince pie sitting at a hefty 250 calories these little treats are not-so-harmless, especially if you’re devouring yours warmed up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of custard.
Roast potatoes With each crispy roasted spud weighing in at nearly 200 calories, double their boiled counterpart, swapping these carbs out for carrots and greens in your Christmas dinner is a great way to reduce the calories of this meal.
Christmas ham With just 100g of honey-glazed ham sitting at 112 calories and extra trimmings like stuffing and gravy being the enemies of dieters this silly season, the traditional Christmas roast is an extremely high calorie meal to be conscious of.
Christmas Pudding Polishing off a calorie-heavy dinner with a similarly calorie-rich dessert is a sure-fire way to tip the scales post-Christmas. With the allocated serving for this classic dessert sitting around 100g and approx. 300 calories, a larger serving or seconds, plus a scoop of ice cream or a drizzle of custard tips this treat well over the 600-calorie mark.
Roast pork crackling A 100g serve of crackling will set you back a whopping 245 calories, making this crispy Christmas dinner extra one the health conscious may want to keep off their plates.
Shortbread biscuits This sweet snack weighs in with calories comparable to a light meal, at around 200 calories for just three biscuits.