Winter, snow, the Christmas atmosphere that urges us in every street and shop ...
Everything that surrounds us during the Christmas period gives the idea of "cuddle" and our mind travels immediately with delight and fear to lunches and dinners.
For many, the Christmas holidays represent a step backwards regarding health and, above all, the physical results achieved during the year. Here, if we spend carefree and happy days our loved ones, we find ourselves the next day to regret the calories assumed by seeing the needle of the scale that condemns us with mute severity. Yet parties can represent advantages for our fitness and body recomposition!
In this article we will see not only how to keep fit during the winter, but also how to take full advantage of the Christmas and New Year period in order to live it in complete serenity and in a functional way for our well-being.
How NOT to prepare for the holidays
First, we need to understand how to prepare for the holidays. Yes, because the main mistake is made upstream. The tendency on the part of almost everyone is to strongly decrease the caloric input in the pre-Christmas period: there are those who fast for a week, those only the day before, those from the first of December already begin to have a very restrictive diet .
The basic logic, in fact, does not make a turn: if in the days of the celebrations I will eat a lot, I use a compensatory strategy before and after the holidays. In this way, during the month, the calories ingested are roughly the same. It is a pity that our body does not think like this and, if it is true that the caloric average plays an important role in what the results are, it is also true that there are short-term effects that we cannot ignore.
Our body reasons in terms of survival. The moment he feels a scarcity of food "he believes" that there is a situation of famine and suitable regulation mechanisms (hormonal, in primis) that lead us to waste less energy.
Let's imagine the case of a person who starts "dieting" from the beginning of December. From one day to the next, he will consume fewer calories, be careful of the amount of carbohydrates and fats ingested, will be reduced to consuming only one glass of wine at Christmas dinner with colleagues, etc.
What happens in the body in the short term is that it begins to use the fats, the energy reserves available, as a substrate of energy, to perform normal daily activities, activities that require much more calories than it is now taking.
Within a short time, at a restricted calorie regime, our organism enters a "general alarm" phase. The body "thinks" that we are no longer able to procure enough nourishment so that, at this rate, even the precious reserves of fat will be consumed and we will risk starving. A solution must be found.
Here then is the first input that is given by the adipocytes (fat cells) that reduce the secretion of the leptin hormone which, in turn, signals to the hypothalamus the need to eat more. Thus, the sense of hunger increases and the levels of thyroid hormones (among those responsible for our energy expenditure) decrease. In the long run, a weakening of the immune system may also appear, caused more by the impoverishment of the diet than by leptin itself.
We finally arrive at the parties. Our friend has now lost a lot of weight, he has probably also started doing physical activity which helps to create even more deficits. Here we are at Christmas Eve dinner, the first big meal: the next day he feels that something is wrong. The stomach and intestines are in a turmoil and are struggling to digest all that food. No it could be otherwise! The restriction of the sources and the low-calorie diet have created an enzymatic specialization and a reduced efficiency of the gastrointestinal system. On Christmas day, at lunch, it seems that things have improved and, after all, all the efforts have been made for this moment. Here then begins another great meal that lasts practically until the evening. The next day the situation is tragic.
The weight has soared. The body suddenly found itself assimilating much more sodium than normal, creating strong water retention. Above all, it must manage the intake of many calories in bulk, in a context in which the body intended to accumulate fat!
In fact what happens in these cases is that the first use that our body makes of food is to restore the fat reserves that had been used in the period of "famine", leaving us swollen and with more fat mass than before. Here, with the intention of reducing the impact of Christmas dinners, we did exactly the opposite.
How to prepare for parties in a healthy way
Now let's see a much smarter attitude to prepare for the holidays. First of all, let's start immediately to set a normocaloric diet. In other words, we want the body to absorb a quantity of calories equal to that which it burns. Let's give them the energies they need. To do this we can use our diet calculator.
Now let's see a much smarter attitude to prepare for the holidays. First of all, let's start immediately to set a normocaloric diet. In other words, we want the body to absorb a quantity of calories equal to that which it burns. Let's give them the energies they need.
At this point, the best thing to do is to maintain a weight training plan in the weight room throughout the Christmas period. This will allow us to have two important effects:
- On the one hand, the normal calorie diet will not lead to any sub-regulation of the metabolism and, the fact that it is balanced with the training, will make the body able to burn calories effectively.
- On the other, with training in the weight room, we will give the body a clear input to direct the excess nutrients to restore muscle stocks (muscle glycogen) and start the processes of muscle overcompensation (hypertrophy). In essence, we will direct the nutrients towards the myocyte (muscle cell) rather than the adipocyte!
How to train and eat during the holidayse
We finally arrive at the long-awaited holidays. The most valuable advice I can give you is to continue training in the weight room even during the Christmas and New Year period.
To each his own availability, of course, but a nice morning workout on December 25th is a real satisfaction for body and spirit! Training makes the day start better, allows us to unload our energies before enjoying the family in a warm and welcoming environment and, not least, leads us to better manage the nutrients we go to eat.
After training there is a natural displacement of GLUT-4 in the cell membrane. These are the glucose receptors that allow it to penetrate into the tissue (muscle or fat). Here then that eating after training will allow us to intelligently exploit all the nutrients that we are going to assimilate!
We have seen that cutting calories a lot before the winter months and holidays in general may not be a good idea.
The ideal is to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle throughout the year and always dedicate time to the weight room (which allows us to make the most of the nutrients we are going to eat).
With these measures, you will see, certainly not 3-4 large meals will invalidate the work you have done during the year!
At this point, however, you just have to see how to behave after the holidays! This, my friends, we will find out in another article!