The holidays are filled with temptations! A friend of mine with a Ph.D. in nutrition once told me, “I never met a calorie I didn’t like.” Put differently anything in moderation is okay. Enjoy that piece of pie, fruitcake or a couple of holiday cookies.
Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Each decade past the age of 30, your basal metabolism slows by 2%. If you weigh 150 lbs. at age 40 and make no changes in diet and exercise then by age 50 your weight will increase to three lbs. And another three lbs. by age 60! Weight management is also one of the best things you can do to improve your cycling.
Reducing your consumption of fat is the best thing you can do to avoid weight gain. One gram of fat has nine calories while one gram of carbohydrate and protein each have four calories.
Choose lean protein.
Why are beef and dark poultry meat red? They’re red because they’re predominantly slow twitch muscle fibers. Slow-twitch fibers metabolize fat as well as carbs. Metabolizing fat requires a lot of oxygen as a result slow-twitch fibers have a lot of capillaries to carry the blood to deliver the oxygen. Slow twitch muscles also tend to have more fat. Instead of lots of red meat eat some white meat and seafood.
Balance your eating.
Dinner is often bigger than lunch, which is often bigger than breakfast. You don’t get enough calories during the day to support your exercise and your activities of daily living and by dinner you’re pretty hungry. Instead make breakfast your biggest meal — your breaking your overnight fast and dinner your smallest meal.
Eat a low fat snack before dinner.
To curb my appetite before dinner I eat veggies either plain or dipped in honey mustard.
Substitute lower fat foods.
Many parties have chips and dip, cheese and crackers, etc., all of which are high in fat. The snacks may also include vegetables and dip. Fill your snack plate primarily with vegetables without the dip and also take some chips and dip — remember anything in moderation is okay.
Avoid dressings, dips and sauces.
95% of the calories in ranch dressing come from fat! 92% of the calories in guacamole come from fat. Hummus is a little better with only 77% of the calories coming from fat. 30% of the calories in mashed potatoes and gravy come from fat.
Eat what you normally eat at a meal and just skip dessert. A slice of pumpkin pie has about 300 calories, a slice of chocolate cake 500 calories, a cup of ice cream is 273 calories, a slice of fruitcake is 139 calories.
Eat fattening snacks in moderation.
A chocolate chip cookie has 130 calories, a sugar cookie 85 calories, just an ounce of milk chocolate is 140 calories.
Drink in moderation.
Libations are often included in parties and at meals. Drinking is unhealthy and alcohol has only empty calories. It provides no nutrients.
Give up one thing.
What’s the one thing you eat that has lots of calories? Surely you can stop eating that until January.
Read the labels.
Canned and packaged goods are required to have labels listing the total calories per serving and the percent of the calories from fat. Be sure to read the size of a serving. One serving of chips is 160 calories but a serving is only one ounce! Many restaurants now provide nutritional information on the menu. Calorie King provides nutritional information on thousands of items.
Get a to-go box.
When you’re out to dinner ask for a to-go box when your meal is served. Before you start eating put part of dinner in the box to take home.
Get on the scales every few days. Your weight will fluctuate. For example if you had a dinner high in sodium you’ll have retained fluid and be heavier. Don’t worry about day-to-day fluctuations just be sure the trend line is flat.
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Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written nearly 30 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John's full bio.