Marta Montenegro: Enjoying Holiday Meals Without Remorse

I’m sure that we all have regretted not saving more money at certain times in our lives. But when it comes to saving calories throughout the day to cash out later on, there’s no benefit to saving earlier. In dietary terms, you’ll end up spending more than what you saved.

Some of you will do this for this special holiday dinner that awaits us during this busy time of the year. Even though experts will never advise you to overdo any meal, this will likely happen. So if you know that you’ll eat without remorse, at least follow these tips for the special day event and the day after.

If you keep your dietary and exercise “financials” on track, there’s no reason to panic.

Rev up your metabolism

During this special big-eating day, you’ll need to split your workout in two. Every time you exercise, you put your metabolism to work harder during and after working out. So if you do this twice during the day, you already have some cushion for your favorite dish.

Remember this is a one-time thing. Don’t do this every day.

Adjust your diet and include some food that will keep your glucose level stable, thus your appetite in control. What mainly makes you go for too much food is simply being hungry, having a sugar crash, which make you lose control and results in stuffing the face.

With this plan, you’ll feel so good that by the end of the day you’ll make your entrance enjoying the ambience, relaxed and giving you time to check out the food and beverage choices to make smart decisions. You’ll be in control of your cravings not the other way around. Remember to eat slow, decide in what is worth to splurge in advance, mix your drinks with a glass of water or sparkling water. Use these common senses tactics or else the battle will be lost before even started.

The event day plan

As soon as you get up: Have ½ of cup of Greek yogurt as a pre-cardio meal. A study from the University of Pardua, Italy, showed that eating before working out increased the total caloric burnout compared to those who workout on an empty stomach. This should be a very small meal just to rev up the metabolism without upsetting your stomach for the aerobic activity.

Light cardio workout: Do any continuous light to moderate cardiovascular activity such as walking, light jogging, biking or elliptical for 30 minutes. Studies show that when doing a low-intensity exercise, appetite increases, which is great because this will make you overcome the myth of not having breakfast to “save calories” for the special dinner.

Have a whole-grain, egg burrito for breakfast: One egg and one to two egg whites, ¼ cup of beans and salsa roll it up in a whole grain tortilla. The protein in the eggs will provide you with all essential amino acids to start off the day with the right energy. The beans will add fiber to your diet, which has been linked to manage hunger. Feel free to complement your breakfast with a cup of coffee. But stay away from cream, full-fat milk and sugary add-ons.

Bottle up: Drink green tea (plain, no sugar added) throughout the day. Tea is not just an antioxidant but also its polyphenol content has been associated with increasing the metabolism.

Have a mid-morning snack, such as an apple with a handful of pistachios. An apple due to its fiber content has been linked to boost fat oxidation while pistachios have shown to aid keeping glucose stabilized better than other nuts. Both foods will keep hunger in control.

Time for meat: Eat a lean protein such as salmon with steamed vegetables for lunch. Salmon is said to promote lipid oxidation in addition to the healthy anti-inflammatory compounds. If you can’t do fish, have some chicken or any lean-beef cut. Keep the serving size at 3 oz for women and up to 6 oz for men. Make yourself comfortable with different types of veggies or a salad. Avoid starches, just sweet potato to ¼ cup with skin. Season it with olive oil and vinegar.

Have a pre- workout/second snack: Throw into a blender skim milk, whey protein, frozen berries and chia-seeds or flaxseeds. Make a 16 oz smoothie and have just 8 oz. Keep the rest for a post-workout meal. Whey protein increases thermogenetics and fat burning better than casein and soy protein, as studies confirm. Berries and the seeds will act as anti-inflammatory, which will be very helpful after the intense workout that follows.

High-intensity workout: Perform a high intensity workout such as all multi-joint fast paced strength moves combined with some powerful moves or a full body Kettle bell routine for 30 minutes. Check out these good workouts that fit the bill, such as my Kettlebell workout. As opposed to the first workout, this one should feel really tough. Think in all what you’ll enjoy in this special event and give it all. High intensity workout has been shown to increase the caloric expenditure after working out way more than moderate intensity type of training.

Post-workout meal: Have the other half of your smoothie. Researches show that when training at high intensity, the appetite gets suppressed. So perform this workout as close as you can to your event time. But make sure that you have a post-workout meal even if you don’t feel up to.  This will prevent the hunger that will rise later on after the metabolism goes back to normal due to the exercise response.

And finally, sip on water until you get to the party. Now, have fun without remorse!

Marta Montenegro is an exercise physiologist, certified strength and conditioning, coach and master trainer who is an adjunct professor at Florida International University.  Marta has developed her own system of exercises used by professional athletes. Her personal website, combines fitness, nutrition and health  tips, exercise routines, recipes and the latest news to help you change your life but not your lifestyle. She was the founder of nationally awarded SOBeFiT magazine and the fitness DVD series Montenegro Method.

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