The holiday season is a time of reduced training, increased eating, and weight gain for all too many athletes. Here's how to avoid it.
Thanks to the Pavlovian conditioning of past years, a looming holiday season brings thoughts of cookies and cakes, turkey and trimmings, pumpkin and pecan pies. Moreover, with this year’s racing season behind us, it is not difficult to pack on a few off-season pounds. With a survival guide and a plan of action you do not have to forego the traditions and feasts of this time in order to remain at competing weight.
The secret to staying lean through the New Year is to match your nutrition choices to the specific requirements of being in recovery mode. The difference in energy expenditure between a day off and even a moderate training day can be enormous. Holiday survival modifications add up and are helpful in maintaining proper race weight. Making small changes even on a daily basis during this time does help compensate for variance in activity level and caloric expenditure. These tips focus on the best weight management strategies during the holiday season to maintain the optimal weight or body composition for the training season.
Maintain Caloric Balance
Even if you are continuing a strength training regimen, cut out the use of sports nutrition energy bars, drinks and gels, which are formulated for endurance. In place of the bars, opt for the earthy, clean alternatives such as the (non-processed) fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which are more nutrient dense as opposed to calorie dense. Dense carbs that were important for glycogen restoration, such as power bagels, can be replaced with lighter, lower-calorie whole grain breads, such as whole grain English muffins or whole wheat pasta and brown rice.
Moderate Your Appetite and Energy Supply
Do not go to seasonal gatherings hungry. Hunger is a strong physiological drive and thus giving in to temptation is highly likely when your brain is not fed. Metabolism is raised when you eat every 2 to 3 hours. Keep up with this philosophy even through the holiday season. Do not save calories for a big festive meal. Have a snack or light meal and drink plenty of water before facing a huge buffet. Having a full stomach aids in appetite suppression.
Eating every few hours also means keeping portion size appropriate. You may have gotten used to eating larger portion sizes while training hard over the summer, and old habits die hard. Remember, ½ cup of cooked pasta, rice or potatoes is a realistic serving size for weight maintenance, whereas these portions may seem extremely tiny when you are faced with festive meals.
Read more in the full article from PacificHealth on how to remain accountable to your training weight throughout the holiday season.
Response: vitaminNutrition: an Athlete's Holiday Survival Guide - Posts - TrainingPeaks Blog