November 15, 2023 3 min read
HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN by Shane Robert
As I write this, Thanksgiving is days away and the kickoff of the official holiday eating season will begin. For many people this means stressing about the dreaded holiday weight gain that we hear so much about every year. Although the numbers, or at least the perception of the numbers, have been greatly inflated, the average American does gain about a pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and doesn’t lose it. Compounded over a decade, and combined with weight gain through the rest of the year, it can lead to a lot of unwanted baggage around the middle.
The best thing to do at this time of year is to lean into it, train your butt off, and consider it bulking season. This is definitely the most fun option. Also not one that most people are comfortable with, which I understand. However, you also don’t want to be that person on Thanksgiving who has one thin slice of turkey breast and some steamed brussel sprouts for dinner, while smelling the pies and trying to satisfy your cravings Lost Boys style.
Let’s talk about how to have your cake and eat it too, or pie, as may be more relevant to this discussion.
STEP 1: Plan the days that will have the most important meals. For me, this is Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas day. Embrace the true glutton that you are on these days. To paraphrase William Purkey - “Eat like no one is watching.”
STEP 2: Pick 2-3 days within that time frame that might have social gatherings with heavy merriment. If you’re alone and sad, congratulations! You don’t have to worry about this step and it’s all the easier for you. If you’re a veritable Ghost of Christmas Present and have a full calendar of parties to attend to, you’ll either have to pick the two that are the most important to partake in and skip partaking at the rest, or go for the bulk season.
STEP 3: Plan the weeks with eating (and drinking for most people), either as a main event or a party, to spend all of the other days that week in a 500 calorie deficit.
STEP 4: On the days you’re planning to wild out, follow an Apex diet until the event. This means you only eat protein throughout the day until the big event hits. The easiest way to do this is with 3-4 protein shakes, but you could punish yourself with some dry chicken breasts, egg whites, or tuna.
STEP 5 (optional): If you really went overboard, the day after can be another Apex diet day. I’d advise throwing some psyllium husk into each shake to help make you feel a little extra fullness.
I’ve used this strategy successfully with myself when cutting or maintaining through the holidays, and have had many clients use it to great benefit. The daily deficit leading up to the event means that you likely aren’t going to go over your weekly calorie balance. Most people will have a hard time throwing 3000 additional calories down their throats in one sitting, but just as a little C.Y.A, the Apex diet ensures that you aren’t going into the eating event with a ton of calories for that day.
This strategy only works if you don’t sneak tasty morsels on the days you aren’t making merry, which includes leftovers. If you find you don’t have the ability to hold back, I suggest making sure to track your food for a while, and adopt an “if it fits your macros” style of eating. This means you track your food in an app and eat what you want as long as you don’t exceed your calories and hit your macros. Many have used this strategy successfully, but be aware that it starts to lose accuracy the more junk you eat. One cookie here or a mug of eggnog there should be no problem when properly accounted for.
In most cultures and many families, the highest expression of love is a delicious meal shared with the important people in our lives. There is no reason you can’t participate. I, for one, spend so much of my year training my ass off and eating like a robot, if I can’t have a couple of days where I eat until I’m ashamed of myself, what is the point?
P.S. If you’re looking for some tasty inspiration, try this latke and brisket Hot Dish from chef Molly Yeh. For the last handful of years, my wife and I have been making it on Christmas Eve. It’s so good that we have to make extra because I will eat way more than my fair share.
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