Fit through the holy holidays - How to keep body fat in the comfort zone despite Christmas dinner and Advent delicacies

Even in the Advent season, when probably the most temptations to sin are tempting, you can stay fit and healthy with a few tips. It is not about having to give up everything, but much more about finding the right measure, discovering delicious alternatives and maintaining your nutritional and sports routine.

Many temptations in the pre-Christmas period and on public holidays

In the office there are freshly baked cookies and gingerbread and at the Christmas market the sweet smell of mulled wine and delicacies beckons. In addition, there are Christmas parties at work and private invitations and the traditional Christmas dinner on the holidays is of high energy density. The macro and micro nutrient distribution as well as the calorie intake is not necessarily optimal. For many people, December is therefore a major nutritional challenge, which often leads to an increase in body fat during this time. However, this does not have to be the case, because with these tips the pre-Christmas period and the holidays can be mastered without gaining weight:

 

1. Maintain routine - breakfast, sports and regular meals

First of all, it is important to maintain your routine, as it is throughout the year. Even if you sin a little more during this time, the habits that have kept you fit, slim and healthy throughout the year should not be neglected.         

2. A proper breakfast keeps the blood sugar stable

Breakfast should be the first priority: The first meal of the day should consist of healthy, natural fats, high-quality protein and vitamins in the form of berries or vegetables. In this way, the body receives the right signals via the neurotransmitters dopamine and acetylcholine and blood sugar is kept stable. This leads to more concentration and energy. Above all, however, attacks of ravenous appetite are avoided in this way, as these are mainly controlled by blood sugar, in other words, there are fewer cravings for sweet Christmas treats. More about this and some breakfast recipes can be found in the article Link the perfect breakfast.

3. Sport and sufficient exercise maintains the musculature

Especially in this time, when often more calories and especially more sugar is consumed than usual, the sports routine should not be ignored. Sport stimulates the metabolism, ensures that muscles are maintained and therefore more calories are burnt. In addition - especially during weight training - the sugar stores in the muscle cells are emptied, which is why it makes sense to treat yourself to a gingerbread or a Christmas cookie after sport, as the stores can be filled with it. After a long day on the office chair, the stores are still full enough so that the sugar sins are converted into fat by the liver and stored in the hip folds. In addition, physical activity makes you feel good and fit, which often reduces the desire for alcohol, heavy fatty foods or sweets, as you want to keep the feeling and not feel sluggish again. After a large, high-energy meal, a walk makes sense so that the sugar in the blood can still be used as a direct source of energy and the metabolism is supported by the blood flow.

4. Plan ahead: In case of upcoming meals, eat something with fewer calories in advance

If you know that a Christmas party is coming up in the evening, where multi-course menus are on the agenda and certainly more calories and pro-inflammatory substances are consumed, the other meals can be adapted to this. Breakfast could be made a little less fat, but not fat-free, more vegetables and fibre could be preferred for snacks, and at lunchtime a salad with a little chicken might be a good idea. Even though one might feel a little hungry, one can look forward to the big dinner in the evening.
Another possibility would be intermittent fasting: The 16/8 method is generally well suited for the Christmas season. Here, you deliberately do not eat for 16 hours and only drink water or sugar-free tea. On the one hand, this leads to a relief of the intestine and the organ system, so that the metabolism can concentrate on cell repair processes, damaged cells are disposed of and energy reserves from the fat stores are drawn on. On the other hand, calories are automatically saved, which can be easily resumed during the Advent season. If, for example, a Christmas dinner lasts until 9 pm, it is advisable to fast the following 16h. This allows the body to convert the many nutrients in peace and quiet and also uses up the energy it has absorbed. So it must be eaten again the next day at 1 pm.

5. Avoid alcohol or enjoy it in small quantities 

On the one hand, alcohol has a high energy density; 100ml of pure alcohol contain 790 kilocalories. Almost as much as pure fat, which contains 930 kilocalories per 100g. With 3 glasses (0.2 dl each) of wine you can already reach 414 calories, which could be a whole meal for an average woman. In addition, alcohol is always broken down and consumed first, before the intestines take care of the other nutrients. It must be broken down by the liver, which requires a high content of micronutrients. Magnesium in particular is robbed by alcohol, which is needed for numerous physical processes and is no longer available in sufficient quantities when alcohol consumption is too high. This can have a negative effect on sleep or the regeneration level, for example.

Alcohol also has a negative effect on the hormones that regulate the water balance in the kidneys, which means that more water is excreted than is healthy. When the body is dehydrated, performance drops, concentration problems arise and nausea or headaches are often associated with it.

In the end, however, no alcohol ban should be imposed here, but awareness of these facts alone can make you more economical in your consumption. Perhaps we will end up with a glass of red wine, which is all the more qualitative and can be enjoyed and appreciated even more. Beer is the least recommendable alternative, regardless of whether it is alcohol-free or not, it also contains many allergens and substances that trigger inflammation and thus also promote the storage of body fat.

6. Pause for a moment before sinning, and consider why you need the treat

Often people eat for social or emotional reasons, but if you take a moment to reflect, you may find that the craving for the cookie is not so great. When colleagues bring cakes, cookies or gingerbread  to work, you don't want to refuse them. It is a social constraint, from which one can simply say "no thanks, I have decided to snack only rarely and quite deliberately this year during the Advent season". It may be that one meets with rejection or a laughing remark from some people, but it is often more likely that one is admired and respected for this discipline.

Sometimes it's just a tempting scent of cinnamon and aniseed that may remind you of the childhood where you ate grandma's beloved cookies. You reach for it and then find out that the cookies are not that tasty or that the gingerbread from the supermarket tastes very dry, but you finish eating out of habit.

But maybe you have a sister who can bake incredibly delicious Christmas stollen and have been looking forward to it for weeks, then the decision is more conscious and the cake should be enjoyed to the full.

7. Bake and cook for yourself: Alternative, healthy recipes for Christmas baking at home

For Christmas cookies, gingerbread and other typical Christmas delicacies, there is always the possibility of modifying the recipes to create a healthy, low-sugar, yet tasty product. Conventional flour can be replaced by almond or coconut flour for low carb varieties. For high carb recipes, gluten-free oat flour, buckwheat flour or rice flour are suitable. The sugar can be replaced by natural sweeteners such as erythritol, xylitol or stevia. Cow's milk can be replaced with nut-based alternatives, such as cashew, almond or coconut milk is a good choice.

Even the Christmas dinner on the Christmas holidays can be arranged so that it consists of natural foods that do not contain any potential allergens.

 

High Carb Collagen Gingerbread recipe - gluten-free/low fat

16 Pieces
Per peice appr..: 
108 Kcal 
CH 14.2g / F 2.5g / P 6.2g
V/GF/LC

 

150g gluten-free oatmeal
150g Buckwheat flour
70g Pasture collagen
2 EL Gingerbread spice
2 EL Raw Cacao
½ Pack Baking Powder
150g Erythritol

Blend well in a large mixing bowl

300ml Almond milk

 

Add and mix with a vibrating whisk or electric mixer to a dough

Place or grease a flat, wide baking tin (4-5cm high, the surface of half a baking tray), spread the dough in it and place in a cold oven, 180⁰ C Adjust top and bottom heat and bake for 35-40 minutes.

30g 90-99% Fine dark chocolate

Break into small pieces and spread them on the hot gingerbread after baking time, if necessary put it in the warm oven for another 2 minutes so that the chocolate melts, take it out and spread it well with a dough scraper. Let it get cold afterwards.

The gingerbread is easy to cut into small pieces, which can also be given away in a pretty bag!

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