How Much Weight Do We Really Gain Over The Holidays and What Can We Do About It?

How Much Weight Do We Really Gain Over The Holidays and What Can We Do About It?

Hey Fit Family!

The Holidays are magical...

The lights

The smells

The cake

The pies

…and on average Americans gain around 1 to 2 pounds every Holiday season.

“Most importantly, this weight is not subsequently lost and can lead to a substantial increase of 15–30 pounds over multiple decades.” -Bhutani et al., 2020

Everyone reading this email probably has at least a few decades of Thanksgivings and Christmases under their belt and the Holiday season may be responsible for over 50% of the average person’s weight gain.

This is why I think learning how to successfully navigate this beautiful time of year with family and friends is so critical to maintaining our results long-term.

Here Are My Top 5 Strategies To Successfully Navigate The Holidays:

1. Get back on track as soon as possible.

Just Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with family and friends probably aren’t independently causing the weight gain we see during the holiday season. For most people, our weekly caloric intake is generally pretty variable and we can absolutely plan in some big meals for those days. Where I see people really get in trouble is they just go HAM from Thanksgiving until a few days after New Years. If you have a bigger meal that’s OK, but get back on to your normal routines and meals as soon as possible.

2. Be careful with variety and don’t eat just to eat.

There are so many cues to overconsume this time of year. Two things that look to get us in trouble are variety and mindless social eating. If you try every pie you will very likely eat more calories. If everyone is eating pie and you just keeping eating pie because everyone else is eating pie you will very likely eat more calories. You are likely better off picking one piece of pie and then paying attention and enjoying it.

3. Do your best to limit drinking your calories.

Liquids and added fats are the biggest ways that we seem to unknowingly consume massive amounts of calories. Liquid calories also tend to not keep us as full as solid calories and they may even prime us to eat more. Thus, whenever possible focus on eating mostly real whole foods in solid form.

4. Stay consistent with your steps and exercise routine as much as possible.

Although, exercise alone may not completely prevent Holiday weight gain. It is possible that a substantial amount of physical activity could make up for the ~80 to 100 extra daily calories that people tend to overconsume during the Holiday season. Additionally, higher levels of movement can help us regulate our appetite and stay more metabolically healthy. I think getting 10,000+ steps per day combined with 2 to 3 resistance or circuit training sessions per week during the Holiday season could completely buffer a lot of people against the onslaught of eggnog and stuffing.

5. Hire a coach.

It looks like having an accountability system and someone to check in with may be able to single-handedly prevent holiday weight gain. A good coach can also work with you to find more personalized evidence-based skills and strategies that allow you to enjoy this time with friends and family while still staying true to your long-term goals and core values. You can learn more about My Fit Life and our coaching program HERE.

#GIVEAFIT

REFERENCES:

1. Diaz-Zavala, R.G., et al., Effect of the Holiday Season on Weight Gain: A Narrative Review. J Obes, 2017. 2017: p. 2085136.

2. Bhutani, S., et al., Change in eating pattern as a contributor to energy intake and weight gain during the winter holiday period in obese adults. Int J Obes (Lond), 2020. 44(7): p. 1586-1595.

3. Coelho do Vale, R., R. Pieters, and M. Zeelenberg, The benefits of behaving badly on occasion: Successful regulation by planned hedonic deviations. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2016. 26(1): p. 17-28.

4. Kahlert, D., et al., PREVIEW Behavior Modification Intervention Toolbox (PREMIT): A Study Protocol for a Psychological Element of a Multicenter Project. Front Psychol, 2016. 7: p. 1136.

5. Latner, J.D., et al., The role of self-efficacy, coping, and lapses in weight maintenance. Eat Weight Disord, 2013. 18(4): p. 359-66.

6. Montesi, L., et al., Long-term weight loss maintenance for obesity: a multidisciplinary approach. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes, 2016. 9: p. 37-46.

7. Bailey, R.R., Goal Setting and Action Planning for Health Behavior Change. Am J Lifestyle Med, 2019. 13(6): p. 615-618.

8. Stubbs, R.J., et al., The H2020 "NoHoW Project": A Position Statement on Behavioural Approaches to Longer-Term Weight Management. Obes Facts, 2021. 14(2): p. 246-258.

9. Raynor, H.A. and M. Vadiveloo, Understanding the Relationship Between Food Variety, Food Intake, and Energy Balance. Curr Obes Rep, 2018. 7(1): p. 68-75.

10. Vadiveloo, M., H. Parker, and H. Raynor, Increasing low-energy-dense foods and decreasing high-energy-dense foods differently influence weight loss trial outcomes. Int J Obes (Lond), 2018. 42(3): p. 479-486.

11. Pan, A. and F.B. Hu, Effects of carbohydrates on satiety: differences between liquid and solid food. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 2011. 14(4): p. 385-90.

12. Stevenson, J.L., et al., Effects of exercise during the holiday season on changes in body weight, body composition and blood pressure. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2013. 67(9): p. 944-9.

13. Willis, E.A., et al., The effects of exercise session timing on weight loss and components of energy balance: midwest exercise trial 2. Int J Obes (Lond), 2020. 44(1): p. 114-124.

14. Martin, C.K., et al., Effect of different doses of supervised exercise on food intake, metabolism, and non-exercise physical activity: The E-MECHANIC randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 2019. 110(3): p. 583-592.