It’s the end of the long weekend, and predictably we’re seeing the results. Our resident nutritionist has some tips to reverse the weight gain and get back on track.
In the first quarter of the new year, a great strategy for your health can often be one of damage control. With the results of those endless family gatherings and recreational social pursuits now obvious, we look back at the revelry, underpinned by excessive alcohol drinking and overeating, with guilt.
When we discuss weight gain/loss we talk in terms of energy in vs energy out. Therefore, to help better understand calorie management, it is important to have an awareness of where all your energy comes from. Here is a simple breakdown:
- 1g carbohydrate = 4Kcal
- 1g protein = 4Kcal
- 1g fat = 9Kcal
- 1g alcohol = 7Kcal
It is often viewed as unrealistic to keep a track of all your food over the festive period, so on that basis, the food log is out. However, simply by increasing your awareness of your intake, it can help you to make better choices.
Make better choices and you get a better result.
Average daily calorie intake for females on fat loss = 1,200Kcal
Average daily calorie intake for males on fat loss = 1,500Kcal
The weight gain “damage” (as I call it) is often caused by an increased consumption of alcohol, both due to the extra calories in the alcohol, and due to the impact it has on your food choices whilst under the influence. We all do it, right? A few beers, wines or champagnes under the belt, and out come the snack foods – crackers and cheese, and 10 different flavoured dips with a family sized pack of chips – or the notorious, good-idea-at-the-time, 3am kebab.
It’s easy to see how the calories pile in, despite the iron fist we keep ourselves under during the week.
For your consideration, the average female weight gain in Australia over the Holiday period (Christmas and Easter) is 2.7kg, and for males, 3.2kg.
Important point number 1: Be mindful of all calories in – don’t track a daily log; just keep an awareness.
The other thing we definitely all have more of is time, which leads me to:
Important point number 2: Make exercise a priority – what’s important is what gets done.
Your most popular excuse of I don’t have enough time is not good one – so instead of finding a new excuse, find a way of getting 30mins of exercise done every day. Even if this means blending two activities into one – i.e., taking your mind off the fact that you’re exercising while you’re doing it. “30 minutes of exercise” seems to be an umbrella term, but it is for a legitimate reason. It hugely contributes to calories out, hence minimising the onset of weight gain from all the extra calories in.
As to what that thirty minutes looks like is up to you, but the less repetitive the exercise, the longer you’ll stick to it. In saying that, here are some suggestions:
- 30 lengths of the ocean pool
- 15 minute beach jog/run and 15 minutes walking
- Find the steepest hill close to where you live and do 10 power walks up and down
- Stand-up paddle boarding can be great fun both in the surf or on a lake if a beginner
- Hire a kayak for an hour and get out on the water
- Become a passionate dog walker – now that you’re off work, you can do the AM and PM dog walks, and since it’s the middle of summer, why not make the dog walk an extra 20 minutes each day? If you don’t have a dog, get a neighbour or relative involved – we’re all in the same boat here!
Let’s accept it – we’re all likely to have a had a few extra drinks (or eggs) over the holidays, but moving forward, here are some simple, effective strategies to follow to minimise the damage of alcohol over the period we now find ourselves in:
- Drink water or at least a diet soft drink between each alcoholic drink.
- Eat a healthy, protein rich meal before going to a bar or party – this can help reduce unwanted hunger that often leads to poor snack choices.
- When drinking spirits, use soda with fresh lemon or lime as the mix.
- When drinking beer or wine, choose low alcohol and low carbohydrate varieties.
The lesson here is enjoy the time you spend with those you love, but when the next holiday period rolls around, keep one eye on your health.