“It's Christmas time, there's no need to be afraid...” - If only the first line of Band Aid's festive classic applied to most of our festive eating habits!
Let's not fool anyone. Unless you're preparing or in training for a competition in early 2015, a large number of us are likely to over indulge in the mince pies, celebration boxes and the little pesky pigs and of course, their neighboring blankets. And don't worry; this article isn't here to ruin your Christmas, in fact, I'm not even touching on the Christmas meal itself. I mean really, how many of us are going to sacrifice the epic Christmas day feast just to be 'good' for a day? The purpose of this article is to give a few realistic alternatives for the sweetest of sweet teeth, things you can substitute or include to keep any negative effects of the festive period as short-lived as possible.
“So that's it; our fate is inevitable, we should just put our feet up and let the tidal wave of weight gain misery wash us away into the new year!”
Well, not exactly. In fact, not at all. See, if you're like me, you'll want to find a way of enjoying Christmas, including all the traditional scooby snacks and sweets that go along with it – but obviously not want to suffer the setbacks of weight gain, or more specifically, body fat increase. Is this possible? Yes – but if you plan on increasing your calorific intake by a daily gut bursting 2,000 calories, probably not. If you're relatively responsible, and follow these guidelines below, you may come out of the Christmas period with not just a similar, but a better over all body composition. And here's how...
Christmas without the Calories...
Let's get the facts out of the way; an average Christmas
dinner, with crispy fat-soaked spuds, sugar-coated parsnips, Christmas pudding and canapes, would weigh-in with an average of 3,500 calories. This is likely to include around 15g of salt and 120g of fat – nearly double a woman's entire recommended daily allowance! But, it's Christmas Day, so I personally say enjoy it all you like. Just be mindful not to take any Man vs Food eating habits into Boxing Day and the New year, and you'll be just fine. So where can we make those calorie saving differences?
Christmas cake, fruitcake, pudding etc whichever
form it takes, they are classic staples of the festive holiday season, and while names such as 'fruitcake' or 'carrot cake' may lead one to think it is a healthier option for dessert, it definitely isn’t. First of all, most of these desserts all contain some kind of fruit which is made and processed in sugar syrup. Top that with rich butter or cream and the optional, though commonly used, ingredient of alcohol, and you’ve got yourself something that’s far from healthy. One piece of the above puddings can run you about 500 calories. That’s the same as a light lunch, for some people. A great alternative would be a protein 'mug cake' made with some trustworthy LA Muscle products...
·1/3 cup LA Muscle Porridge
·2 Egg whites
·3 tbsp LA Muscle Whey Protein
·2 tbsp. Unsweetened almond milk
·1/2 tsp Baking powder
·10g chopped nuts (your choice)
This may take a bit of experimenting to get your perfect mix, but honestly, they are epic! Slam them in the microwave for 2 mins and you're done. Get creative, add or replace bits as you like. You're left with a tasty 300 calorie dessert with nothing but beneficial ingredients – around 12g fat, 40g carbs, 50g protein.
Next, how about replacing the Christmas chocolates and sweets with something tastier and better for you... Chocolate chunk peanut butter fudge! Most wrapped chocolates carry an incredibly high calorie count, so this alternative will stop you from going nutritionally broke over Christmas time.
· 1/2 cup LA Muscle Peanut Butter
· 2 tbsp Honey
· 1/2 cup Coconut Flour
· 1/3 cup Water
· 3/4 cup LA Muscle Whey Protein
· 1 tsp Cinnamon
· 1 drops of stevia/sweetener alternative
· 1/2 oz Dark Chocolate
· 1/2 tsp Cocoa Powder
1. Slightly heat peanut butter and honey.
2. In a food processor, blend the coconut flour, water, LA Muscle Protein, cinnamon, and stevia with the warmed peanut butter and honey.
3. Remove the batter from the food processor, and stir in two ounces of mini dark chocolate chips.
4. Press dough into an 8x8 pan.
5. Melt dark chocolate in the microwave for 10-second bursts until melted.
6. Stir melted chocolate with cocoa powder and a splash of water. Spread thinly over fudge.
7. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
The above recipe will yield you 20 squares, with each one giving around 4g fat, 6g carbs and 9g protein.
And finally, what about drinks? Both soft and alcoholic contain an incredibly high amount of calories – a pint of coke is 300 calories, a beer 170 calories and a glass of wine 130 calories. Brandy and port carry a massive 100 calories per measure. My recommendation? Moderation! That may be easy for a teetotal personal trainer to advocate, but perhaps keep a limit on how much you drink. Bear in mind that the purest alcohols have the fewest calories and it's often the 'mixers' used along with liquor that really boosts the calorific content. Also, whether drinking alcohol or not, consider substituting the full sugar soda's for their diet or sugar free counterparts. Lastly, drink plenty of water to help flush out any food or drink related toxins that can easily build up with over indulging!
Have a brilliant Christmas and New Year! Stay on top of the game, don't wait for it to break before its fixed; eat well, party hard and treat your body with respect.