How to minimize fat gain during the holidays

Holiday season is when most people gain weight (and then struggle to take it off). Overfeeding on protein could be your solution in helping minimize the fat gain.

Written by and verified by the comprar-ed.eu Research Team. Last updated on Jan 30, 2018.

The winter holiday season is traditionally a time for celebration and reconnection with family, friends, loved ones, and the dreaded in-laws.

It is also a time for indulgence, with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year occurring in quick succession. In fact, most weight gain during the year is observed during the holiday seasons.

Figure 1: Yearly holiday weight gain in three countries.

This isn’t an issue in-and-of-itself, since any added poundage can be lost during other parts of the year. But that doesn’t appear to be the case for most people. Several studies have found that weight gain during the holiday seasons is not lost during the spring and summer months, suggesting that holiday treats may be a key player in the slow, insidious weight gain most adults observe with age.

One way to avoid this is to be diligent about your food intake. One study found that people gain an average of 500% more weight per week during the holiday compared to non-holiday weeks, with only the most consistent trackers averaging any weight loss at all. Similar observations have been made with people enrolled in the Diabetes Prevention Program, and successful weight loss maintainers in the National Weight Control Registry report significantly greater attention to weight and eating, greater stimulus control, and greater dietary restraint, both before and during the holidays, than normal weight folk who have never been obese.

Figure 2: Average weekly weight change based on self-monitory consistency.

But let’s be honest - most people do not want to track their food intake, especially during a time when emphasis is placed on hyper-palatable, calorie-dense dishes of deliciousness and peer-pressure from grandma to have that second slice of pie (because you always look too skinny to her).

The holidays are a time of enjoyment and indulgence. As such, most people gain significant weight from all the feasting. It is from this feasting that most weight gain happens, and unfortunately most of it sticks around permanently.

How to minimize fat gain - a review

A better idea might be to simply focus on eating foods that minimize fat gain. I recently published a review article on the role that macronutrients play in determining body composition changes when overeating. Although looking at macronutrients is a rather reductionist approach, it can help us set some guidelines to offset fat gain during the holidays.

First and foremost, though, it needs to emphasized that there is a lot we don’t know. Compared to the seemingly endless stream of weight loss studies being published, a mere 25 studies have evaluated body composition changes during times of overeating, with 13 simply reporting on what happens when sedentary people eat 40-60% more calories per day than normal over weeks to months. Spoiler alert: they gain weight, mostly fat.

The remaining studies actually compared the effects of different overfeeding conditions. Three studies compared overfeeding on fat to carbohydrate for 2-3 weeks, one study looked at the effects of drinking a pure glucose or pure fructose beverage, and another compared overfeeding on saturated fat (palm oil) to polyunsaturated fat (sunflower oil). Overall, differences between groups for changes in body composition were minor and not statistically significant. The one exception was that overfeeding on saturated fat led to significantly greater fat gain than overfeeding on polyunsaturated fat (81% vs 50% of total weight gain as fat mass).

Siete estudios compararon la sobrealimentación con diferentes cantidades de proteína. Dos de estos fueron en adultos sedentarios. Uno informó que comer 2,4 g / kg (gramos de proteína por kilogramo de peso corporal) resultó en un aumento de grasa significativamente menor que comer 1.2 o 1.7 g / kg, que tuvo efectos similares. Sin embargo, la otra encontró que la ganancia de grasa entre 0.7, 1.8 y 3.0 g / kg era la misma, con la diferencia en cambio de que la masa libre de grasa se incrementó solo en los grupos de 1.8 y 3.0 g / kg. El último estudio fue un estudio de alimentación controlada, que podría explicar la discrepancia. Es posible que comer más proteínas lleve a una mayor actividad espontánea que ayude a compensar el exceso de calorías y la consiguiente ganancia de grasa.

Los otros cinco estudios se realizaron en poblaciones atléticas, es decir, personas que participaron regularmente en entrenamiento de resistencia. Todos menos uno de estos estudios hicieron que las personas aumentaran las calorías exclusivamente a través del aumento de la ingesta de proteínas, ya sea como alimentos completos o batidos de proteínas (lo que sea más conveniente para el participante). Y todos estos estudios informaron que comer demasiado en proteínas, con ingestas de 2.4 a 4.4 g / kg en comparación con 1.0 a 2.4 g / kg, tampoco tuvo efecto sobre la masa grasa o disminuyó significativamente la masa grasa, a pesar de los aumentos en la masa libre de grasa.

Figura 3: Cambios en peso corporal y composición para la proteína normal (NP; 2.3 g / kg) y alta en proteínas (HP; 3.4 g / kg) grupos. Cada punto representa el cambio para un solo individuo. Los cambios en el peso corporal, la masa grasa y el porcentaje de grasa corporal son estadísticamente diferentes entre los grupos.

La proteína en exceso parece ser protectora contra el aumento de grasa, especialmente en personas que levantan pesas. Sin embargo, la investigación sobrealimentación es limitada y muchos matices no se han investigado.

Cómo minimizar el aumento de grasa durante las vacaciones

Entonces, ¿cómo podemos poner estos hallazgos en práctica durante las vacaciones?

Simple: come tu carne.

Acción de Gracias? Derrochar en Turquía. ¿Navidad? Devora el asado

Ya que vas a derrochar en comida, enfoca tu sobrealimentación en alimentos ricos en proteínas. Esto no solo tiene la mayor probabilidad de minimizar el aumento de grasa durante el consumo excesivo, sino que las conocidas propiedades desatiating properties pueden ayudar a reducir la ingesta excesiva.

Como beneficio adicional, si está buscando controlar los niveles de azúcar en la sangre, se ha demostrado que consumir proteínas antes de carbohidratos con almidón reducir la glucosa en la sangre y las respuestas a la insulina después de las comidas .