This write up is not designed to deter from indulging and enjoying the next month of the holiday season. This write up is designed to help you navigate these parties, gatherings and meals that we get to take part in and still find yourself on the way to attaining your goals. If you're not currently tracking macros or focused on performance or weight loss this write up is still for you. My goal is to help create an awareness that acts as an advantage no matter who you are or where you are in life. If you hope to cut back on the amount of excess body fat and water weight we can quickly accumulate through the holiday season then this is for you.
Alcohol vs. no alcohol
If you indulge in drinks on a regular basis then you may already have an understanding for this but if not, I’m here to help. Alcohol is dense with calories, it contains 7 cals/ gram where carbs and protein only pack 4 calories per gram. This is important to understand when you are simply trying to be “aware” so you can be selective in how much you want a particular night or weekend or event to upset your macros.
If you have a drink of choice, by all means it is the holidays, enjoy yourself! But if you are simply trying to enjoy some drinks with friends and be as calorically aware as possible then it is best that you likely stick to liquor. And when I suggest liquor I mean sipping something on ice, straight or mixed with club soda and lime or lemon. The absence of added sugar is a game changer when it comes to calories but also recovery! The common hangover people feel is exaggerated when they consume beverages that are also sugar ladened. Light beers, and wines are also solid choices but will have more carbohydrates than liquor but a touch less alcohol when it comes to overall volume. My specific advice is to avoid mixed drinks. My go to is a vodka + club soda with lime or straight whiskey.
The protein advantage
Protein is your friend. If you don’t know what I mean when I say that, I’m referring to meat primarily. You can also get your protein from vegan sources, but if you need to do that then I hope you already understand macros to a higher level as it will be necessary to sustain a healthy balanced vegan lifestyle. If you are like me then you can also get your protein from shakes like our Refuel, Restart, Resilience or Reform as well. Why is this macronutrient important? Well it helps us build muscle, recover from our training but it is also very satiating. In short, protein makes us feel full. This is an advantage when we find ourselves surrounded by highly caloric foods and drinks and helps us keep from over doing it. More importantly protein is the macronutrient that actually takes the most calories to metabolize and specifically when you are eating skeletal muscle from animals. When we eat protein it helps us improve our overall metabolic activity due to this trait. If what we eat helps us burn more calories vs. store more calories, then that is also a big plus in consistently pursuing a healthier version of ourselves.
How to use protein to your advantage.
Front load your protein intake throughout the day that you will be attending a party or event. This will help make sure you hit your minimums through the day before the event and also help you feel more full on arrival. You don’t want to eat so much that you don’t want to eat at all at the party, unless that is in fact your goal, but enough so that you simply don’t over do it. The food spread at parties is usually over saturated with carbs in the form of processed foods and added sugars as well as fats, rarely does the spread provide many dense protein options.
Pre party fitness
Before you hit the party, hit some fitness! Go to the gym and hit a mean weight training session followed by some HIIT style intervals. This is the perfect blend to break down muscle tissue, deplete your glycogen stores and get some endorphins spinning before you gather with friends. The reason this is important is due to the fact that what you eat and drink after your training can then HELP your body more than hurt it. You have a chance to use the excess protein, carbs and fat to help rebuild your body that you just broke down. Nutrient timing is actually a real thing, so what you do around your fueling times does matter on what happens with those calories. The best way to put the calories to work, is to do some solid work before you arrive at the party.
I wanted to write this to simply bring some awareness and help you all navigate the next few weeks. Remember, while the turn of the new year is a popular time for people to get their actions and priorities straight when it comes to health, there is never a bad time to start. Why not now? Some simple awareness goes a long way and could allow us all to hit the new year with some already existing momentum.