5 Ways to Beat Christmas Weight-gain

Food, the Forgotten Medicine©

Christmas Cat

Cold weather, shorter days and festive cheer is the perfect excuse to overeat at this time of year, but if we understand our bodies a little better we can enjoy ourselves without over the top weight-gain.

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Leptin Deficient Mousey & A very Normal Mousey

Your appetite – like most things – is controlled by hormones…principally ‘Ghrelin’ and ‘Leptin’.

They work on a feedback loop – when your stomach is empty, Ghrelin is produced and this signals the brain that it’s time to eat.  Leptin, on the other hand tells the brain to stop eating if we start gaining too much fat.  In other words, Leptin is a hormone that suppresses appetite, whilst Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite – if you want to lose weight, you want LESS Ghrelin in your system.

 

Here’s my top FIVE ways to look after your hormones this Christmas…

 

ONE – Sleep more!

Sleep deprivation is a great way to increase the production of ghrelin and decrease leptin production   If you’re going to a few parties these next few weeks then you’d better find time to throw some afternoon naps in the mix – buffets and increased ghrelin aren’t a great idea!

TWO – Avoid *Hyperpalatable Foods

If you really want your brain chemistry messed with, eat highly processed foods.

Food manufacturers know that fat, sugar, and salt send our reward centers crazy, meaning we always want more.  Essentially, we can’t ‘hear’ the signals from our gut through all the dopamine ‘noise’.

Stay away from highly processed foods altogether –  better still make your own treats and you’ll know exactly whats gone in them!  Check out this blog post for Festive Treats.

THREE – Eat Slower

If you choose to eat like an industrial hoover then it’s inevitable you’ll get a LOT of calories down your neck before your brains even received the signal that your stomach is full – best advice here is to chew your food and appreciate the textures and flavours.

FOUR – Eat Mindfully 

It’s a good idea to stop eating (not always) before you’re completely full, and that requires a focused dialogue from gut to brain.  Watching TV, messaging on FB, or driving whilst eating, are a sure-fire way to break that connection!

FIVE – Keep Your Balance – Energy Balance that is!

Bear in mind that you can’t out-train a sloppy diet – not even the magic of Christmas allows this! 

However, that doesn’t mean exercise isn’t powerful stuff, and i wouldn’t wait until the New Year to start…even if its just 5 minutes, do something today, and by the time January roles around, your body will not be thrown to the bootcamp HIIT wolves!

Talking about intensity (HIIT), shorter exercise durations at medium-to-high intensities has been shown to illicit less cravings – particularly in women.  So, if your idea of fat-loss is hours of treadmill or cycling, you might want to consider how that impacts your appetite later that day and wether you increase your meals and snacks to compensate!  Your best bet is to keep the duration relatively short and ramp up the intensity.

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image & data courtesy of suppversity.blogspot.co.uk/

 

 

Finally, what if there was an activity that not only got us moving, but aided our digestive health too!

To many, Yoga is about being bendy – or perhaps graceful & bendy – but for me it’s more an internal practice – check out these 14 yoga postures that aid digestion.

Of course there are Yoga teachers who are focused on the bendy-aesthetic, and Yoga Teachers who are focused on the intelligent side of yoga, so choose your class accordingly!  If you’re located in the North East of England, then Jambo Yoga certainly fits the latter!

 

Whatever your journey, have an AMAZING time!!!

 

Happy Christmas!

 

Magic ‘The Grinch’ Manos

 

 

*Hyperpalatable foods is a term coined by Harvard-trained pediatrician, and former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, MD

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