Most of us know the basics of how to maintain a lean physique; balance your fat, carbohydrates and protein, eat clean unprocessed food, drink enough water. But still most of us find staying in shape over the festive season a challenge – after all, it is Christmas.
We spoke to Lean Active’s General Manager Brett Hamer to get his top tips for staying lean over the Christmas season.
#1 Make your workouts intense and shorter.
Workout density refers to the amount of work you do in a certain amount of time. The greater your density, the more calories you burn. Set yourself a workout time of 20-30 minutes, and try to complete as much of your usual work out at that time as possible. Try to improve each time you go. You’ll be raising your metabolism and burning more fat while spending less time in the gym during a busy festive season.
#2 Lift weights faster to increase workout capacity.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) consists of short bursts of hard work, anywhere from 20-90 seconds. Numerous studies have demonstrated working harder you work, the higher your metabolism. HIIT routines with weights such as dumbbells or kettlebells will tone your muscles while raising your heart rate. Beginners should start with a 1:2 ratio (30, 60, 90 seconds on, then double that for resting). As you get better you can move on to 1:1.
#3 Finish workouts with an intense and demanding exercise.
Doing this will spike your heart rate even higher before you finish, and keep your metabolism high for the next 12-24 hours. You could try sledge pushes or rope training. It’s also good psychologically, as you finish your workout on a high.
#4 Be sure to finish your work out with a low-calorie protein shake.
A protein shake like Lean Active’s Lean Whey Protein Powder. This will help to repair your muscles, keep you fuller for longer (so you won’t be going near those Christmas leftovers!) while keeping your calorie intake low.
#5 Mind over matter.
Remembering how to say “No” can be one of the hardest hurdles of keeping weight off over Christmas. Practice things like pushing your plate away at the table when you don’t want any more. These little tricks help psychologically – you have made the conscious decision you do not need anymore so don’t give in to temptation!
#6 Eat your protein first, and lots of it.
Start with the lean meat at the beginning of your meals. Your body burns more calories trying to digest protein than it does fat and carbohydrates. The protein will also help to stabilise your blood sugar helping you to feel fuller more quickly before you’ve had a chance to eat all those fattening side dishes!
#7 Use low-fat substitutes.
Christmas is full of high-fat content foods, such as cheese, cream and butter. If you are prone to hang out by the cheese board, a low-fat cheese substitute will limit the damage. Similarly, try swapping your Beer for a Gin & Tonic. A G&T averages 120 calories, compared to 187 calories for a pint of bitter. Swap your regular tonic for a Slim Line and you’re looking at 60 just 60 calories.
#8 Consider a Pre-Workout before hitting the gym.
This will give you that much-needed kick-start when all that Christmas indulgence leaves you feeling sluggish. Lean Active’s Lifted Focus Pre-Workout Energy Powder will give you a great boost and increase your performance during high-intensity exercise.
#9 Increase your reps.
While this may sound like a killer over Christmas, it helps burn up those calories eaten the night before. If you’ve been on a strict nutritional programme before you might find yourself suffering from water retention from all the excess food and drinks. Remember to drink plenty of water and the fluid will take care of itself.
#10 Don’t forget the cardio!
This is nobody’s favourite, but crucial to keeping that Christmas weight off and keep you energised. If you don’t have time for the gym over Christmas and Boxing day, why not try going for a brisk walk. It’s a nice way to spend time with the family while kick-starting your metabolism after a big dinner.
#11 Consider a BCAA to keep your muscles strong and slow protein break down.
If you’re spending less time in the gym and hitting higher intensity training, your muscles might start to break down. A BCAA like Lean Active’s BCAA Hydrate will enhance endurance and performance and maximise your recovery to keep you on track.
#12 It’s all about control.
You’ll stay on track as long as you don’t overindulge – but equally, don’t deprive yourself. With so much temptation you’ll only up thinking more about what you can’t have which might make you pretty miserable. Remember it’s Christmas, enjoy yourself!