This time of year is filled with temptations and indulgences that can make us feel wonderful… and then awful—especially starting January 1st. Ugh! Let me help save you the anguish with a few wise tips I follow when I decide to indulge.
1. Eat carbs before bed
WHAT? Yep, you read that right: Eat carbs before bed! As a carboholic myself, this was the greatest thing I ever learned. But it doesn’t mean you can stuff your face with all of your favourite potato chips and sour gummies—because this tip actually comes with some stringent rules. The right carbs at the right times can be your best fat-loss friend.
Here’s why: Carbs are especially important for healthy adrenal and thyroid function, as even several days of low carb intake can raise cortisol and lower T3 levels. In case you’re wondering why these matter, high cortisol depresses your T3 levels, and your body depends on these for regulating its metabolism. They’re also important for the proper functioning of your satisfaction hormone known as leptin.
So what are the right carbs? Research shows that eating healthy carbs (e.g., sweet potatoes, quinoa, and yucca) about 4 hours before bed increases the time we spend in a deep sleep. Why? Because certain carbs are a precursor to tryptophan, the feel good neurotransmitter that helps us relax and gives us a good night’s sleep.
But wait, what does sleep have to do with any of this? Well, when your body is in a state of deep sleep, a growth hormone which helps speed up fat loss is released. And getting quality sleep may be the most important thing you can do to stop unnecessary weight gain (and ensure great health in general) since it regulates all of your body’s circadian and hormonal rhythms.
As long as your total calories stay within the daily requirements, there’s no danger of gaining weight if you eat more of your carbs later in the day.
2. Make your muscles eating machines!
The best way to use up all of those extra calories is to make your muscles HUNGRY! When you exercise, you are utilizing your muscle’s stored form of glucose (glucose and glycogen). When this gets depleted, your muscles need to be refueled. So it’s just a matter of incorporating that workout at a perfect time to ensure any extra calories consumed will be “eaten” by your muscles, instead of being stored as fat.
How? It’s simple. Get in a mini workout before your big feast! If you don’t have time to work out, doing a few simple exercises by forcefully contracting your muscles should do the job. It’s actually one of the best ways to prime your muscles to soak up any incoming calories and nutrients.
For instance, do 10 to 20 squats, hold plank for 1 minute, or do 15 modified (or regular) push-ups no more than 1 hour before you eat. Though it may sound or look funny, make it a fun event by getting your family or friends involved! Your body (i.e., your muscles) are most receptive to nutrients after they’ve been called into action. That’s why your biggest meal should often come after a workout.
3. Follow your feast with a mini fast
Since you will be indulging with a huge meal (or three!) over the holidays, your body will have plenty of energy reserves to last you several days. This means you have extra fuel in your body—so you won’t starve! One way to allow your body to burn through more of that excess fuel (and potentially stored fat) is to follow a day of feasting with a day of fasting.
The good news is, part of your fast occurs throughout the night. And by morning, your body is beginning to rely on fat for its energy—that’s because the glycogen in your liver (from the carbohydrates you ate at your evening meal) is starting to deplete. As your glycogen stores are progressively exhausted, your body goes into fat-burning mode.
Here’s what you need to know to get started:
- Begin your fast at night, after your last large meal.
- When you wake in the morning, half of your fast will be complete. YAY!
- Drink lots of water and herbal tea until you are finished fasting.
- If you make it until about 1pm, you will have completed your intermittent fast. Congrats!
Of all the healthy ways to accelerate fat loss, fasting is easily the cheapest and most powerful.
PRO TIP! I like to break a fast with my Green Digestive Machine Smoothie to help kick start digestion and keep my blood sugar level stable.
Well, there you have it. These 3 tips are easy ways to STOP that holiday weight gain in its tracks. Happy feasting… and fasting!