Even during Advent, when there are probably the most temptations to sin, you can stay fit and healthy with a few tips. It's not about having to do without everything, but rather about finding the right balance, discovering delicious alternatives and maintaining your diet and exercise routine.

Many temptations in the run-up to Christmas and on the holidays 

There are freshly baked cookies and gingerbread in the office and the sweet smell of mulled wine and treats at the Christmas market. Add to that the Christmas parties at work and private invitations and the traditional Christmas dinner on the holidays is very energy-dense. The macro and micronutrient distribution and the calorie intake are not necessarily optimal. For many people, December is a big nutritional challenge, which often leads to the body fat percentage increasing during this time. But that doesn't have to be the case, because with these tips you can master the pre-Christmas period and the holidays without gaining weight:

1. Maintain routine – breakfast, exercise and regular meals

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

2. The right breakfast keeps blood sugar stable

Breakfast should be the top priority here: The first meal of the day should consist of healthy, natural fats, high-quality protein and vitamins in the form of berries or vegetables. This gives the body the right signals via the neurotransmitters dopamine and acetylcholine and keeps blood sugar levels stable. This leads to more concentration and energy. Above all, however, it avoids cravings, as these are mainly controlled by blood sugar, meaning you have fewer cravings for sweet Christmas treats. More about this and some breakfast recipes can be found in the article Link the perfect breakfast to find.

3. Sport and enough exercise maintains the muscles

Especially at this time, when people often consume more calories and, above all, more sugar than usual, their exercise routine should not be neglected. Exercise boosts metabolism, maintains muscle mass and therefore also burns more calories. In addition, the sugar stores in the muscle cells are emptied - especially during strength training - which is why it makes sense to treat yourself to a gingerbread or a Christmas cookie after exercise, as this can fill the stores. After a long day in the office chair, the stores are still full enough so that the little sugar sins are converted into fat by the liver and stored in the folds of the hips. In addition, exercise makes you feel good and fit, which often reduces the desire for alcohol, heavy fatty foods or sweets, as you want to maintain the feeling and not feel sluggish again straight away. After a large, energy-rich 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 promoted by the blood flow.

4. Plan ahead; eat something lower in calories before an upcoming meal

If you know that there is a Christmas party in the evening, with multi-course meals on the menu and that more calories and inflammatory substances will be consumed, the other meals can be adapted accordingly. Breakfast could be a little lower in fat, but not fat-free, snacks could be more vegetables and fiber, and a salad with a little chicken might be a good idea for lunch. Even if you feel hungry now and then, you can still look forward to the big meal in the evening.
Another option would be intermittent fasting: The 16/8 method is generally well suited to the Christmas period. Here you consciously do not eat anything for 16 hours and only drink water or sugar-free tea. On the one hand, this relieves the strain on the intestines and organ system, so that the metabolism can concentrate on cell repair processes, damaged cells are disposed of and energy reserves from fat stores are used. On the other hand, calories are automatically saved, which can easily be consumed again during Advent. For example, if a Christmas dinner lasts until 9 p.m., it is a good idea to fast for the following 16 hours. This allows the body to convert the many nutrients in peace and also uses up the energy it has consumed. So you don't have to eat again until 1 p.m. the next day.

5. Avoid alcohol or enjoy it in small quantities

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

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

Ultimately, however, there should be no ban on alcohol, but just being aware of these facts can make you more economical in your consumption. Maybe you'll stick to a glass of red wine, which is of higher quality and can be enjoyed and appreciated even more. Beer is the least recommended alternative, regardless of whether it is alcohol-free or not, and it also contains many allergens and substances that trigger inflammation and thus promote the storage of body fat.

6. Before sinning, pause for a moment and think about why you need the treat

Often we eat for social or emotional reasons, but if you take a moment to reflect, you will realise that the desire for the biscuit is not that strong. If colleagues bring cakes, biscuits or gingerbread hearts to work, you don't want to say no. It is a social pressure that you can simply escape by saying "no thanks, I have decided to only snack rarely and consciously during Advent this year". It may be that you are met with rejection or a derisive comment from one or two people, but it is more often the case that you are admired and respected for this discipline.

Sometimes it's just the enticing scent of cinnamon and anise, which perhaps reminds you of your childhood, when you ate Grandma's beloved cookies. You reach for them, only to find that the cookies aren't that tasty or that the gingerbread from the supermarket tastes very dry, but you finish eating them out of habit.

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

7. Baking and cooking yourself: Alternative, healthy recipes for Christmas baking at home

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

The Christmas dinner on the Christmas holidays can also be designed 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 piece approx.: 108 calories
KH 14.2g / F 2.5g / P 6.2g

150g gluten-free oat flour
150g buckwheat flour
70g pasture collagen
2 tbsp gingerbread spice
2 tbsp raw cocoa
½ pack baking powder
150g erythritol

Mix well in a large mixing bowl

300ml almond drink

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

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

30g 90-99% chocolate

Break into small pieces and spread on the hot gingerbread after baking, possibly put back in the warm oven for another 2 minutes so that the chocolate melts, take out and spread well with a dough scraper. Allow to cool...

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

Ines Schulz
Ines Maria Schulz, born on December 1st, 1992 in Basel, Switzerland, also completed her Master of Education in Biology and WAH there, laying the foundation for understanding physiology and anatomy as well as nutrition. She is also a trained primary school sports teacher. For two years she has been a coach at MTM Personal Training, the most successful personal training studio in Berlin. There she supports customers every day who want to exploit their maximum potential in terms of mental and physical health and performance. In cooperation with doctors such as Dr. Dominik Nischwitz and a laboratory for intestinal health as well as constant exchange within the team, she can give her customers optimal advice on training, nutrition, micronutrients and lifestyle. She has already written a breakfast book and a large part of a lifestyle booklet for MTM. She also writes the weekly newsletter, which publishes nutritional tips and recipes she has created. Ines has completed seminars and certificates with various successful coaches and specialists and is constantly expanding her skills. The young trainer has been writing blog articles for Supz Nutrition since January 2019.

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