It’s that time of year again; the time where “expert” holiday eating tips from trainers, nutritionists, athletes, and even celebrities flow like margaritas in Marbella.
Some of the gems include “drink more water” or “carry a bag of celery sticks around with you.”
Despite people’s best intentions going in, including the best personal trainers, almost everyone strays from the path and gains an extra layer of non-functional flab coming out of the season’s eatings.
How are you not going to pack on some fat with free buffets all around you?
Here’s the unfortunate truth – almost all the holiday “diet” advice you get from a variety of mainstream sources goes against our natural human instincts, which is to feast like a beast once a day.
It also goes against our evolutionary history and social patterns, which is to eat animals, and party like animals, at night.
That’s why those mainstream fitness tidbits rarely work. It sounds good on paper, but doesn’t work in real life situations when the animal inside takes over. Yet, we keep coming back to this fluff because we know we need some kind of help.
So what, you’re supposed to be cool with nibbling on a disturbingly unsatisfying 200-calorie, low-carb snack while everyone else is eating amazing sun holiday dinners laced with various seasonings and washing down with jugs of beer?
One of the core principles is an eating structure that mimics our evolutionary past, the hunt and feast structure – eat lighter while active during the day, eat the majority of your calories and carbohydrates at night while relaxing or socializing.
Doesn’t that already sound more doable over this upcoming holiday season?
If not, good luck with your snack packs. If yes, lets dive into some feasting details.
- Don’t Eat Light at Night myth!!
Here’s what you’re supposed to do if you listen to the skinny model who now is a nutrition expert!
“Eat 5 equal calorie meals throughout the day and finish with a low calorie, low carb snack”
All you will get from that is pure and utter misery!
The day starts off good, but then you end up at a Holiday “Rage,” and there’s a ton of free, 5-star food around you.
What do you do? You binge and eat a huge feast anyways, because instinctually that’s what we’re meant to do. And with that last large meal you completely overshot your calorie and macronutrient totals for the day.
Listen my friend, eating big at night doesn’t make you fat. Eating too much/too many calories for the entire day makes you fat.
If you’ve eaten large and/or frequent meals throughout the day, and then eat another large dinner on top of that, chances are you’ll overshoot your daily calorie needs and gain fat. It’s the total food intake, not the distribution that’s the problem.
So yes, if you’re eating big during the day, you have to taper down and starve yourself at night.
But if you eat lighter during the day and train, chances are you enter dinner in a relatively large calorie deficit with depleted energy reserves, and even a large meal with a significant amount of carbohydrates will be used to restore energy reserves first before spilling over into fat stores.
With that being the case, you can either set up your diet to suffer or set up your diet to cruise. I know what I prefer.
- Eat Light During the Day So You Can Eat Big At Night
Does the evolutionary hunt and feast structure sound like bullshit to you? Well, there’s actually some science to it.
This structure controls insulin/blood sugar levels and maximizes fat burning hormones and cellular factors during the day while simultaneously improving nutrient partitioning and maximizing muscle building hormones at night.
Basically in non-technical wording, keep your hands away from sweets and high carb scones during the day.
Instead, eat a lighter, lower carb, protein-based lunch. This will lead to better cognitive function, energy, and body fat slashing for a good portion of the day.
Example: 8-12oz of beef, chicken or fish; non-starchy vegetables, 1 piece whole fruit and/or 1/4 cup nuts.
Most people find it relatively easy to cut calories and make better food choices during the day as long as they know they can eat a larger meal at night and get to end the day satiated and satisfied.
I focus on The Feast, which is the key to this plan. The rest of the day is more flexible.
For simplicity’s sake, I really only eat two meals a day when on holidays.
What should you do? You can skip breakfast or not skip breakfast, or eat a Poliquin-style “meat & nut breakfast.” You can reduce meal frequency, increase meal frequency, or protein pulse.
Find whatever pattern during the day works best for you and your goals, which I know is blasphemy in this era of universal systems.
- Unleash the Feasting Beast
Eat a complete, satiating meal, with protein, veggies, and the majority of your starchy carbohydrates at night.
If you’re eating a big, real, whole foods dinner, chances are you’ll be stuffed, and you won’t have much “room” leftover to binge on holiday deserts !
Many people who’ve adopted this nutritional approach complain of having to eat too much at night. Pour souls.
Example: 8-16oz chicken, beef, or fish, mixed veggies, 2-4 cups rice or 16-32 ounce potato or sweet potato.
- Don’t wander off the path
This is where some will proclaim that this magical structure of eating lighter and lower carb during the day will allow you to slam down junk and shitload every night on fast and processed food, and still lose fat. If you stay within a calorie deficit, that may just work, but:
It’s pretty hard to stay within said deficit with refined sugar, oils, and other crap. That’s the underlying reason why most calorie counting diets fail in the long run.
- Implement Strategic Cheats
I argue people should stick to a base eating structure centered on whole foods most of the week, and then plan strategic cheat nights. Getting results is about what you do with your diet the majority of the time, not all the time.
Look I know there will be late nights and parties on holidays. Hell, you even will be eating more ice cream than you can imagine washed down with sangria!!This is only a guide to help you get it 80% right.
First off, eat your normal, lighter, lower carb lunch. This will ensure you’re still optimizing the body’s ability to burn fat for a good portion of the day and entering the feeding frenzy with relatively depleted energy reserves.
Second, have 1-2 nights a week during the holiday season where you eat what you want without limitation. Probably just one if you’re already looking more like a beach whale!
Why do I say strategic?
There will be lots of options to cheat, probably most nights of the week. So you have to be selective to limit the damage.
If you plan to eat out big style on a certain night then look forward to that and go all out .
But having a quite night in beside the pool sipping wine is not the night to over indulge. Even though your on holidays you can still choose when to “do the dog on it” so to speak!!
I don’t proclaim to be the definite way of controlling your food and intake on holidays so you wont come back 10kg heavier.
This is just a plan for those who want to focus on enjoying time with their family and friends instead of focusing on how bad their diet is affecting them.
The most important thing on a holiday is you de stress, get away from the daily grind, leave the phone away from you and spend time with your loved ones.
The world and its problems can wait until you get back. I am just trying to help you not bring back 10kg with you.
ps-Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to try our 15 DAY JUMPSTART to help you get back on track and get your mojo firing again. Just fill us in on what you would like to achieve and we will be in touch within 48 hours.