Top 10 tips to stay extra lean this Christmas

Published 23 December 2012  |  
(Photo: Eduardo Siqueira Filho)

Co-authors of the Ripped to Shreds report, fitness trainers Shaun Petafi and Dean Connor, have some tips for avoiding weight gain this Christmas.

It's all too easy to pile on the pounds over the Christmas period but here are 10 tips to allow you to enjoy your food this Christmas without starting the New Year looking like Santa Claus!

One thing to bear in mind: We don't think anyone has ever eaten anything by accident, what we decide to put in our mouth is our choice: so make the right choices this Christmas.

1. Go easy on the starches

Cereals, bread, rice, pasta, cakes, pastries, biscuits as well as vegetables such as potatoes, yams, carrots, parsnips, and swede are all starchy carbohydrates. These foods cause our insulin levels to 'spike' resulting in our bodies storing fat (particularly around our waist). Have an extra slice of turkey this Christmas but try not to pile on the starchy veg. Great alternatives are cabbage, kale, runner beans, spinach, sprouts, leeks, broccoli and cauliflower.

2. Go for the red wine or mulled wine rather than white wine, beer or
spirits

Red wine contains less "empty" calories and is higher in the good stuff (flavonoids, non flavonoids, polyphenols and heart-protecting reservatrol) than the other alternatives. The evidence surrounding this issue is mixed – the bottom line is that no alcohol is best.

3. Skip breakfast

So you have been told to eat first thing in the morning, then every couple of hours to "stoke your metabolism" and keep burning fat throughout the day.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Eating first thing, especially the usual grains and dairy 'healthy' breakfast, will certainly put your fat burning efforts on hold for a few hours. This coupled with breakfast bars for your elevenses, before your typical lunch all cause rising and falling levels of insulin. Instead give your body a break, allow it to process the food from the day before.

Waiting for example 14-16 hours after your last meal the night before will allow your body to become a master of controlling insulin (the key to fat loss), reset the hormone ghrelin (hunger hormone)
and reset the hormone leptin (the carbohydrate sensitive hormone).

You will now become a fat burning machine when you do eat. You will also reduce blood pressure, have better digestion and live longer, not bad for doing nothing.

4. Drink a large glass of cold water before bed and on waking

At night this will ensure you're hydrated while you sleep and will help to flush any alcohol through your stomach. In the morning it will boost your metabolism and rehydrate you after several hours without a drink.

5. Have your Christmas meal at lunchtime rather than in the evening

Eating a large meal in the evening will encourage your body to store more of it as fat than if you eat it at lunchtime.

6. Make your own mince pies and Christmas pudding

Shop-made pies, cakes and puddings are often full of stabilizers,
emulsifiers and preservatives not to mention loads of sugar and a raft of chemicals you won't be able to pronounce. When you make your own, use less sugar then the recipe suggests (you won't notice the difference) and use high quality animal fats such as butter or lard instead of vegetable oil or margarine as these convert to bad trans fats in the high heat of the oven.

7. Accompany your mince pie or Christmas pudding with clotted cream!

Sounds crazy but adding a little good quality clotted cream will cause the sugar to be absorbed more slowly and reduce the insulin-spiking effects. Good news!

8. Choose dark chocolate with a high cocoa content

Cocoa has been found to contain flavonoids than may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. One study that compared the total antioxidant activity in single servings of cocoa, green tea, black tea and red wine scored cocoa markedly higher than the rest. The more cocoa in a chocolate product, the higher the antioxidant flavonoid content is; dark chocolate is more concentrated in cocoa content (choose 70% or higher), it is higher in flavonoids than milk chocolate. White chocolate has no cocoa content.

9. Try to avoid snacking between meals or late at night

This may be difficult, especially at Christmas time but if you must snack go for a slice of meat or cheese rather than crisps, cakes or biscuits. Snacking between meals really is the way to pack on the pounds – ensure your meals are sufficiently dense in nutrition to last you until the next one.

10. Go organic

Last but by no means least! Avoiding the fertilizers, herbicides and
pesticides, fungicides is important as these toxins get stored in your fat tissues. The more toxins, the more fat that needs to be created to store them. Also, some of these chemicals mimic the hormone oestrogen in men and women, upsetting your hormone balance and increasing fat storage around the pectoral area in men - "man boobs" - and around the hips and thighs in women.

Source: Ripped to Shreds

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