Strategies to Ignite Your Fat-Burning Potential during the Holiday Season
Wouldn’t it be great if you could burn fat all day long instead of just during your exercise session? Especially during the holidays that involve parties, traditions and events to attend which typically involve having a few cocktails and eating lots of delicious food not normally on your diet plan. Research shows that there are some proven strategies to increase your metabolic rate and burn fat for longer periods throughout the day.
To understand how metabolic rate can be increased, we must first understand normal glucose and insulin metabolism. After a meal, blood sugar increases and triggers an increase in insulin. This sends a signal for sugar to be taken up into muscle and fat cells until there is a drop in blood sugar. Many people have created a dysfunction in this system from over-consumption of carbohydrates (as simple sugars) and unhealthy trans-fats, causing insulin to be more dominant. This is a signal for fat to be stored. In addition, chronic high stress situations release cortisol and other chemicals in the body that signal fat to be stored. This dysfunction is typically due to poor eating habits, physical inactivity, and stress. However, with some simple changes to your diet, exercise program, and lifestyle, anyone can rev up their metabolism and start burning more calories throughout the day.
Here are some strategies to help you maintain your weight loss without having to deprive yourself of all that the holiday season has to offer!
1. Eat enough of the right food in the right amount and right proportions. Doing this on a daily basis will help get your metabolic rate functioning correctly again and even speed it up. The right food means healthy protein (organic poultry, wild caught fish, grass fed meat, pasture raised eggs etc), low glycemic index carbohydrates (vegetables, berries, nuts and seeds), and healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed full fat dairy, avocados, nuts and seeds). By eating adequate amounts of fat at each meal you will be full and more satisfied longer so you may be able to go longer without eating and craving those high carb foods. Many people think that in order to lose weight they need to simply cut calories. Well, this may be true if you’re eating at McDonald’s every day and taking in twice the amount of calories you need on a daily basis, but for the average person it’s not too many calories that is the problem – it’s not enough of the right kind of calories (typically those from healthy fats and protein.) The problem really arises when you take in more carbohydrates than what you body is able to burn that they are promptly converted to body fat.
2. Eat protein and fat first. On days that you know you’ll be consuming more calories, have a protein shake for breakfast and lunch or a protein shake for one of those meals and a high protein choice with veggies and healthy fats for the other meal (grilled chicken on salad with EVOO, avocado, an omelet with veggies and cheese, or full fat cottage cheese and berries). At a party choose protein and healthy fat sources to snack on if possible.
3. Do a 15-20 minute, high intensity workout daily. If you can do it an hour before you are heading to a party where you know you’ll be drinking and eating more than normal, this will get your metabolism running faster and you’ll burn off more of the calories. The higher the exercise intensity, the greater amount of fat and carbohydrate burned during the exercise session. An added benefit of high intensity training is that more fat will be burned post-exercise during your recovery period. Instead of running for 30 minutes at 70% of your max heart rate, try interspersing one minute sprints. Sprint for one minute and slow to a light jog for two minutes. Repeat until reaching 30-45 minutes.
4. Add strength training to your exercise routine. Strength training triggers your body’s release of growth hormone, which is essential for fat burning and increasing your metabolic rate. Numerous studies have shown that participating in a strength training session pumps up your metabolism for 2-3 hours post-exercise and sometimes even longer.
5. Get enough sleep. All the benefits of the right diet and the right exercise program can be negated if you’re not getting enough sleep. Growth hormone is released while you sleep and is necessary for rebuilding muscle and many other important metabolic functions.
6. Go for a leisure walk, get a massage, take a nap. Anything you can do to alleviate stress will lower your cortisol levels and additional calories will not be stored as fat as easily.
7. Pick one non-negotiable for the weekend. Choose to indulge in either alcohol OR high carb foods like pizza or sweets – but not both! If you’ll be at a party all day and want to make sure you limit your consumption, try alternating a cocktail with a glass of club soda and lemon. Have one slice of pizza and fill up on veggies and grilled chicken. If dessert is your thing – sample a few of the goodies by taking 1-2 bites of each instead of eating the whole thing.
8. Manage your mindset. This might be the most important tip of all! Remember that what you indulge in over the holidays is a short-term gratification. Stay focused and committed to your long-term goal and when you hear the voice in your head telling you to have another cocktail or grab another slice of pizza – just take a moment to stop and ask yourself if you really need it. How important is that short term pleasure? Have a glass of water or club soda and see if the urge goes away.
And remember that even if you do gain a few pounds over the holidays, it’s most likely due to water retention from excess alcohol and high carb foods. Go back to your regular routine as soon as possible and those extra pounds will be gone within a few days. The most important thing you can do is get back on your normal eating and exercise plan every week and not beat yourself up because you over-indulged. We all need to kick back and have fun – don’t add to your stress level by worrying about a few extra calories.
For more tips visit: www.weightlosspuzzlesolved.com.
Dr. Frank Aieta is a board-certified and licensed Naturopathic Physician with a private practice in West Hartford, CT. He specializes in the treatment of disease, using natural therapies such as acupunc ture, homeopathy, spinal manipulation, clini-cal nutrition, herbal medicine and natural hormone balancing. For more information please visit: www.draieta.com.
Dr. Diane Hayden is the owner and publish-er of Natural Nutmeg Magazine and Essential Living Maine Magazine and is an author, speaker, and workshop facilitator. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Connecticut, a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from the University of Maryland and is an Empowerment Life Coach. For 20 years, her work has focused on inspiring people to learn about the power of thought and belief systems and how that shapes their lives. Her passion centers on helping men and women break the failed relationship cycle through her proprietary SPARK method. You can learn more about her online at: http://drdianehayden.com/.