Facts and Myths about Holiday Weight Gain
Research indicates that holiday weight gain is a myth. A small study from the Texas Tech University involving 48 men and 100 women ages 18 to 65, for example, found that people gain about one and a half pounds on average during the holiday season, which is far less than the often-cited 7 to 10 pounds.
Another study involving 195 adults found that most of the study participants gained about 1.06 over a six-month period, starting from September to early March. The latter study, which is published 2000 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, also found that obese or overweight individuals were more likely to gain weight compared to individuals with healthy weight.
However, these small weight gains can add up over time, according to the study author Jack A. Yanovski, MD. In fact, figures from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation show that a vast majority of American adults are either obese or overweight.
That said, here are five tips to prevent holiday weight gain.
Tip 1: Be Realistic With Your Goals
Most dieters fail to attain their weight loss goals because their goals are too ambitious. Specifically, the average dieter wants to lose about one-third of his/her body weight, according to a 2001 study from the University of Pennsylvania. If you set such lofty goals for yourself, you’re unlikely to attain your goals. For that reason, you should set attainable and reasonable goals for yourself.
The secret here is to break your long term into small short-term goals, including weekly and monthly mini-goals. For instance, if your long-term goal is to lose 15% of your current weight, your short-term should be easily achievable, say, losing one pound per week. Short-term achievements will help your track your progress, give you something to celebrate and help you remain motivated and focused on your long-term goal.
Tip 2: Be Mindful of Sodium and Sugar Intake
Sugar, specifically refined sugar, cases weight gain in several ways. For starters, it doesn’t satiate your appetite, so it may encourage you to overeat. Secondly, the presence of refined sugar in the body causes the body to release more insulin into the bloodstream. To get rid of the excess sugar, the insulin converts it into fat, which it then stores in the liver, fat cells and muscles.
Therefore, if you want to lose weight, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting your sugar intake to no more than 25 grams per day. Similarly, you should cut your sodium/salt intake as well. Salt, unlike sugar, does not cause you to gain fat. Instead, it causes your body to retain water and therefore add weight. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you should limit your daily salt intake to 25 grams.
Tip 3 : Minimize the Carbs
If you consume more carbohydrates than your body requires, you will likely gain weight. This is because your body will convert the excess carbohydrates into glycogen and fat for storage. Of course, the more fat your body stores, the more weight you’ll gain.
To prevent this from happening, reduce your carb intake. In particular, you should avoid unhealthy high carbohydrate foods including refined sugar and its derivatives such as candy, pastries and starchy foods.
At the same time, you should adopt a low-carb diet. According to research, low-carb diets are generally highly satiating, meaning they limit calorie intake and therefore promote weight loss.
Tip 4: Drink Water!
According to a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, between 30 and 60% of Americans who try to shed unwanted pounds increase their daily water intake to 0.5 liter or more.
Water promotes water loss in several ways. Firstly, drinking cold water can boost your metabolism, allowing your body to burn more calories and increase your resting energy expenditure. Secondly, drinking water before a meal can reduce your appetite, causing you to eat less.
Tip 5: Challenge a Buddy
If you’re like most people, you’ll likely encounter challenges in your weight loss journey that will cause your motivation to wane or even worse, cause you to abandon your journey all together. This is where a weight loss buddy would come in handy. Simply put, your will serve as your accountability partner.
We know watching what you eat is can be tough with family pressure during November and December. Grandma makes those super sweet pecan pies that are almost too good to pass and your aunt brings the candied ham and crock pot mac n cheese. Use the five tips discussed above to prevent holiday weight gain – but, remember, just do your best.
Nothing is worse than being that one family member that says no to everything!