Tis the season where we indulge and let go. But unfortunately, we end up feeling awful and even more depressed when we step on the scale or put our favorite pair pants afterwards, right?
To help you prevent this unwanted holiday weight gain I have three odd (yet very healthy) tips.
1. Prime your muscles to soak up those incoming calories.
If you want your body to utilize all those extra calories, instead of storing them as fat, then before you sit down to eat, get your muscles "hungry."
To do this, simply contract your muscles forcefully for a few seconds or better yet, do 10-20 reps of bodyweight squats, push-ups, or hold a wall sit for 30 seconds.
Sounds odd I know but your body (your muscles really) are most receptive to nutrients after they've been called into action.
That's why your biggest meal should often come after you workout. But if you don't have time to workout, doing a few simple exercises can prime your muscles to soak up those incoming calories and nutrients instead of you storing them as fat!
2. Follow your feast with a short fast.
If you're having a huge meal (or several of them), then your body will have plenty of energy reserves to last you several days.
One way you can allow your body to burn through more of that excess fuel (and stored fat) is to follow a day of feasting with a day of fasting.
And it's as simple as this: start your fast at night after your last meal. When you wake up in the morning, half of your fast will be complete. Then, if you can make it until mid-afternoon or evening on water and herbal tea, then you'll have completed an 18-24-hour fast.
Of all the health promoting and fat-loss accelerating strategies at our disposal, fasting is easily the cheapest and most powerful.
Here's just one example: uncoupling protein-3 is a very important protein found in our muscles that is associated with fat burning. Simply put, when fat burning increases, so does the amount of uncoupling protein-3 in our muscles. Amazingly, as little as 15 hours into a fast, the gene expression for uncoupling protein-3 increases five times, according to a 2002 study in the journal, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. This means five times more fat loss!
Incorporating ONE 18-24 hour fast during your week, especially after a heavy day of eating will help you feel lighter and slim you down more quickly than you can imagine.
3. Eat carbs before bed.
If you've been told that carbs are the devil, then rest assured that the right carbs at the right times can be your best fat-loss friend.
Here's why: Carbs are especially important for healthy thyroid function, as even several days of low-carb intake can plummet T3 levels. They're also important for the proper functioning of your hunger hormone leptin, which tells your brain when to stop eating.
Plus, research shows eating healthy carbs (not refined ones) about four hours before bed increases time spent in deep sleep (where growth hormone is released, which also speeds fat loss and reduces the time it takes to fall asleep.
Getting quality sleep is likely one of the most important things you can do to stop unnecessary weight gain and ensure great health since it regulates all your body's circadian and hormonal rhythms.[STUDY?]
According to a long-term sleep study called the Quebec Family Study, the risk of developing obesity was elevated 27 percent higher for those who slept five to six hours per night compared to those who slept the ideal amount of seven to nine hours.
So yes, sleep is very important and carbs are your friend in this category too.
In case you've been told not to eat carbs later in the day because they will get stored as fat, the research simply disproves that too. As long as total calories remain equal, there's no danger to eating more of your carbs later in the day.
Adapted from my new book, The All-Day Fat Burning Diet.