With that season creeping up on us, it might be a good idea to look into how to make it through the holidays without ending up looking like a cross between the Michelin man and a sumo wrestler. In fact, if you play your cards right, you might actually get bigger and leaner!

Two things up front:

Fact #1 / A single bad meal will not make you gain fat, no matter what you do.
Fact #2 / Eating nonstop from now till New Years Day will make you fat, no matter what you do.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the specifics of how to handle one meal at a time:

1. Enter the holiday season as lean as possible. This is where your summer diet will pay off big time! The leaner you are, the higher your metabolic rate will be, meaning you can get away with eating more calories without packing on that much weight. Furthermore, you will handle your carbs better as you have muscle to store them in.
2. Keep the carbs low during the day before you actually sit down for the big meal. If you know that you will be exposed to higher carb foods at dinnertime, stick to veggies and lean proteins during the day. This way, your insulin levels are low and you are primed not for fat storage, but for muscle glycogen replenishment.
3. Exercise before stuffing your face. If you work out before eating, you will achieve two things: 1. You will lower your insulin levels and use up your muscle glycogen, and 2. This will help you store Aunt Polly’s apple pie in your biceps, not in your gut. Think along the lines of a ‘high rep, short rest’ pump routine.
4. Add cinnamon to your tea or dessert. Cinnamon works very well as an insulin up-regulator so it will help shuttling nutrients to the muscle.
5. Do not starve yourself the next day! This is critical since your body will go into survival mode if you drastically cut your calories overnight. The result would be increased fat storage. Instead, eat a normal diet and do a power workout on the day after. Since everyone will be tearing each other’s eyes out for the new Justin Bieber perfume at the Macy’s Black Friday sale, the gym will be empty. This way, you can use the extra calories to build some muscle.

There you have it, some easy tips to use overeating to your advantage. Wishing you all a great holiday season!

Maik Wiedenbach