Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holiday Weight Gain: How To Avoid It!

The holiday season is just around the corner! This is the time of year that many of us fear gaining a few extra pounds. Actually a recent study found that we don't actually gain as much weight over the holidays as we think, but hold on...here's the bad news....it tends to have a cumulative effect over the years and may be a major contributor to obesity later in life.

Government statistics show that more than half of all adult Americans are overweight (based on body mass index). 54.9% of Americans have a body mass index of 25 or more. A BMI of 25-29 is considered overweight. 22.3% have a BMI of 30 or higher and are considered obese.

Previous studies show that as adults, Americans tend to gain an average of 0.4-1.8 pounds each year. Scientist weren't sure if this weight gain was spread over the course of the year or if it was gained at specific times during the year such as the holiday season.
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Guess what the study showed? Drum-roll, please!......
Many think they gain 5-10 lbs between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but but the study (done by Researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) found that most people gain about a pound (1.05 lb)between October and late February or early March. Most of that weight gain (0.8 lb) occurred during the six-week interval between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
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Not surprisingly, study participants who were much more active during the study were less likely to gain weight over the holiday. Some actually lost weight. Participants who were less active during the holiday period had the greatest holiday weight gain.

So how do you maintain your weight over the holidays? Run! Workout! Be active! Also keep in mind calories in and calories out. To gain a pound in one week, you have to ingest 3500 calories above what you normally ingest during a week. That's an extra 500 calories a day. That sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that one slice of pecan pie has 500-800 calories! Does that mean skip the pie? Nah....but what it does mean is that you need to be aware of what you're eating as well as uping your activity level to help keep a balance between those calories in and calories out.

Maybe Christmas Eve is the big family meal for you, or maybe it's New Year's Day. Whatever it is, think about saving up for those extra calories by eating a little lighter the days leading up to the big feasting day while at the same time keeping up your running and exercise routines.

Remember that higher-intensity workouts are going to be better for burning those extra calories. So during the holiday season, add a few more interval workouts into your routine. You can do this at a track or right on the treadmill at home or in the gym. Just throwing in some fartleks into your regular 5-miler will help up the intensity too. Resistance training is another great way to up your metabolism and burn more calories. So hit the gym and lift some free weights.

Don't deprive yourself for those special holiday treats, but think moderation and stay active. Run! Run! Run!

15 comments:

Kenley said...

Great post man! I lost 30 lbs this year on my quest as a runner. In the past 3 week I have been trying something new. I eat every 3-4 hours and do not eat until i am full but until my tank is about 75% full. That has worked out really good and I feel more energetic. I still eat what I should and what I have been, but not the typical 3 a day. BTW, the advise you gave me about the knee? Well I have implemented strength training (lunges, as hard as they were to begin with. lol, leg press, etc.) and surprisingly enough my knee doesnt even pop anymore or hurt. And my speed improved along with my stamina. Sorry for the long comment. Just thought I would keep you posted on my progress. And I have had so much fun watching my site grow. Thanks for everything. Stop by sometime and visit. lol..............Keep Running. "The Joggernaut"

RunnerDude said...

Hi Kenley! That's great news! Yep, I eat more like 5-6 mini meals throughout the day too. Keeps the engine burning. That's great about your knee too!

Molly said...

I try and sneak in extra cardio, power shopping at the mall, or taking the kids for a walk to see Christmas lights, it adds up!

unathleticrunner said...

This year I am avoiding it by going to the beach for both holidays! ;)

Chad said...

Thanks for this post. I have been hitting the weight room as of late regularly on top of running. Gained 3-4 lbs in the last month. I have been snacking more, so I need to keep that under control. But, I'm not sure if the weight gain is from some muscle gains or if its the extra fuel in the tank. I'm hoping its the former.
I blogged about my weight loss recently:
http://runningfool-ootaynee.blogspot.com/

Enjoyable post thanks!

irunyourun said...

I don't think it's just the holidays to blame. The period the study points out also coincides with winter, where people tend to spend more time at home, be less active, etc.

I know I'm active year round, but much more active during the summer, when I bike to work, take long walks outside, etc.

I bet if you look at countries in the southern hemisphere, the holidays don't affect them as much, since it happens during their summer.

triwidows said...

Great post! However, my problem is the more I think about watching what I eat, I put more in! Weirdest thing :) As soon as I stop thinking about it I drop a few pounds. Obsessive much?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Emily
www.triwidows.com

RunnerDude said...

Hi Molly! I like the power shopping idea and the walking to see the lights!

RunnerDude said...

Great idea Unathleticrunner!Beach or Bust!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Chad! Some of the few extra pounds could very well be muscle. A better judge than the scale is how your clothes are fitting. If you're working out but gained a pound or two, but your clothes feel no different or possibly even loser, you may very well have lost some adipost tissue(fat) and gained some muscle! Gaining a little muscle will ramp up your metabolism and actually help you burn more calories in the long run! Keep up the awesome work!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Irunyourun! You're probably on to something, however, the study does say that most of the weight during the study was gained between Thanksgiving and New Years. The study was from early October through March. So, sounds like the holidays do have an impact, but I bet the cold weather does play a part.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Triwidows! LOL! Kind of like when I try to remember something. The harder I try to remember, it never comes to me. When I stop...voilà! I remember! LOL! Maybe I should try to remember that there are Girl Scout Thin Mints in the pantry so I'll not be able to remember they're there. LOL!!

Dena said...

BAH! HUMBUG! I want to eat like a pig (vegetarian pig) with no repercussions. Having all these healthy friends is just bumming out my holidays, man... ;)

RunnerDude said...

Oh Dena, eat a Thin Mint and chill. You can pigout on your tofu turkey and I won't say a word. :-)

Ness said...

Great article...Ieat when i am hungry and stop before being full...having good snacks makes me almost never hungry :) Running helps to maintain a great shape