By Shane Allen
Certified Weight Loss Specialist, Personal Trainer, Sports Nutritionist
The holidays are right around the corner. All that hard work to lose or maintain your weight over the summer tends to go by the wayside during fall and winter.
But I have four easy-to-do secrets for how to actually lose weight despite those gut-busting holiday meals.
1. Avoid anything with the word “casserole”
Americans will consume around 3,000 calories at the Thanksgiving table.
But it’s not the calories that make you gain weight, it’s the casseroles—specifically the starchy carbs hidden in those casseroles.
Calories don’t create fat—starchy carbs and sugars do. Even green bean casserole has French fried onions on top. Broccoli cheese casserole? Rice.
While I’m on the subject of carbs, be sure to also avoid stuffing/dressing, rolls and potatoes.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine even says carbs and sugar—not lack of exercise—are to blame for obesity and type 2 diabetes.1 This is because carbs and sugar are what your body converts into fat for energy storage.
Avoid all starchy carbs during your Thanksgiving dinner and you won’t gain weight. Even better—you won’t have to count calories either.
And trust me, there’s still plenty left to chow down on if you keep the casseroles at bay.
2. Can the cranberry sauce
As referenced above, sugars are in the same boat as starchy carbs when it comes to fat gain. But sugars do it much quicker, and with greater side effects.
Spikes in your blood glucose levels can cause you to crave more carbs and then give you that “crash” feeling later.
Keep that gelatinous cranberry sauce in the can. Push those pies away.
There is one—and only one—sugar allowance: apples. They’re low glycemic and high in fiber, which means your body goes through less of a sugar spike and energy swing when you eat them.
Try this instead: Pie-Less Apple Bake
Here’s a great fat busting, guilt free apple dessert alternative to help lose weight over the holiday…
1 Apple, cored and sliced into wedges
1 T Butter
Non-caloric sweetener such as Splenda or Stevia to taste
1/8 teaspoon (or to taste) apple pie spice
- On a small baking tray, arrange apple wedges in layers.
- Dab the butter on top of the apple. Sprinkle sweetener and apple pie spice over everything.
- Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Serve warm or pack into lunch containers and refrigerate until ready to use as a snack or with lunch.
3. Focus on meats, eggs, and vegetables
No starchy carbs and no sugar. What’s left?
I create a very full thanksgiving plate every year by focusing on eating meats, vegetables, eggs, cheeses and nuts.
That leaves me with turkey (fried or roasted), ham, deviled eggs, greens, summer squash, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli with cheese…The list goes on!
By doing this you’re focusing on what you’re eating, not how much you’re eating—which means you don’t need to worry about counting calories.
This means that you can have the best of all worlds. Eat delicious foods and still lose weight.
4. Start with a glass of water
Chugging a couple glasses of water before your holiday meal could help you lose weight, according to a recent study in the journal Obesity.2
This makes sense because water fills up your stomach, helping you feeling more satiated.
The key in this experiment was that the test group drank water 30 minutes before each meal.
Researchers think this time between drinking and eating helps you feel full while giving you time to shape better decisions about what you eat.
Now, while water can help you lose weight by making you eat less, it’s not a magic bullet. Still remember tips 1, 2 and 3.
Boiling it all down
Here is a handy-dandy chart to help you avoid the wrong foods while loading up on the good foods at your family’s Thanksgiving table.
|Turkey (roasted/baked, with the skin!)
Ham (without glaze)
Green Beans (without french-fried onions)
Corn (in moderation)
Peas (in moderation)
Carrots (in moderation, and without glaze)
Pie-Less Apple Bake (with non-sugar sweeteners, no crust)
Full-fat salad dressings
Yams or Sweet Potatoes
Casseroles with rice or fried onions
Another tip: make sure your freezer is stocked with Personal Trainer Food so you can ring in the New Year looking and feeling great!
- It’s your diet, not how much or little you exercise: bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2015/05/07/bjsports-2015-094911.full
- Obesity Journal findings: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.21167/abstract
About the Writer
Shane Allen is a certified weight loss specialist, personal trainer and sports nutritionist. He joined Personal Trainer Food™ after 12 years in television news where he worked both on air and behind the scenes in news management. Shane is an EMMY®, Edward R. Murrow, National Society of Professional Journalists and Texas Associated Press Broadcasters award-winner.