Written by Danielle Lickley
Quick Fix Diet
With Christmas just around the corner, many of us start to desire conflicting things…we want to look great in a party outfit BUT still want to enjoy and be able eat at all the events in the lead up to Christmas. We want to lose some weight to enjoy the Christmas period, BUT we’re busy shopping so the gym will have to wait. So, instead of opting for healthy fat-loss and training advice, we revert to that quick fix fad diet we’ve seen in magazines. After all, at least we’ll look good in the Christmas party photos right?
Whilst this may be true and that snapshot will be pleasing, the damage to your metabolism heading into the Christmas period is most likely to put you in a worse place than you started come January.
Fad diets, don’t get me wrong, will help you lose weight. They will lower the number on the scale, which might be a short term fix for that Christmas dress idea. However, be aware, most diets work on a caloric deficit approach (you will eat less calories than your body requires in order to lower the number on the scale). Fine you say, bring it.
Ok, but here’s the downside. We hit the Christmas party and survey the treats: alcohol, mince pies, 3 course dinner…we head into Christmas day, with that good old ‘bring on the buffet’ mentality. I can promise you that’s what I’ll be doing! And then there’s post Christmas, that chocolate you’ve been bought, the last of the mince pies, the whole tube of Toblerone (I speak from experience here) And before we know it it’s New Years Eve, more celebrations, more food, more alcohol. Where are you going with this Danielle..?
This dieting, the calorie deficit you put your body in pre Christmas, has now become the calories your body is used to. Put simply, our bodies are more intelligent than us. They adapt to what we’re giving them as fuel and learn to run on less, to hold on to some fat; our bodies want that fat, it’s essential for survival! So the lower calorie diet which was once a deficit becomes a maintenance level. The amount of calories you can eat with your body staying the same weight. This is the reason that all diets hit a plateau. Ordinarily, when you hit a plateau, you would lower calories a bit more, and so on and so forth. But realistically if you’ve already slashed those calories in the way some diets suggest, where does that leave you? Do we just keep going until our bodies enter starvation mode?
Coming out of bodybuilding shows, you may see this term ‘reverse diet’ scattered around. That’s the means of slowly increasing yourself out of a caloric deficit to gain weight, fat and muscle at a healthy rate after spending a long period of time in a deficit state. This is crucial when leaving a calorie deficit so that the weight doesn’t just pile back on, as a result of a sudden surplus of calories….this is no different to our Christmas binges!
Having lowered your maintenance level through the Christmas party dress crash diet, we then shock our bodies with a whole week of huge calorie intake: chocolate, desserts, canapes, buffets, 3 course meals. And what happens? The weight goes straight back on. I’m not saying don’t do Christmas, I mean, I fully intend to do my usual entire Terry’s chocolate orange with a glass of baileys breakfast. I guess this blog is really just a tool to think about the facts and be careful. What do you really want, a physique that’s photo-fit for the night, or a healthy balanced body on the inside and outside?
To see a real change in your body you require consistency. You might find that coaches who offer nutrition and training plans are more reasonable than you think, certainly in my opinion a lot cheaper and more worthwhile than a weekly PT session. They will help you calculate your food and give you a training plan to help you make long term changes to your body in a sensible way, rather than crash dieting. And if you pile on a few pounds at xmas (if you don’t you’re doing it wrongly) they’ll be there to pick up the pieces come January.
If you don’t want a coach there are ways and means of doing this yourself. You can calculate your macros, there are online calculators to help you with this and with a bit of learning to read labels, you can learn to fit all food into your diet whilst having only the minimal calorie deficit needed for your body to lose weight.
Use The Zone to look up workouts and recipes which are easy to follow. Create an at home circuit and a tick chart and simply aim for 3 times a week. By all means try to lose that weight for your Christmas party if it will make you feel good, but don’t do it blindly, ignoring the position you could put your body in post Christmas celebrations.
Slow and steady will always be worth it in the long term.