In episode 128 of his video series, Dr. Larson discusses:

You’ve heard that people gain a little bit of weight every year. Researchers indicate that it is anywhere from a few to ten pounds a year. Then, after a few decades you find yourself overweight. When you are overweight it increases your risk of metabolic syndrome, with waist circumference being one of the five criteria. Metabolic syndrome increases your risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. 

So, it is good to be aware of the weight gain and figure out what we can do to mitigate it. Some studies have indicated that most of the weight we gain is gained throughout the holidays. One paper found that the 6-8 weeks before the holidays is when most of the yearly weight is gained. Other studies say that blaming it all on the holidays is excessive. But, even if you don’t gain all of the weight during the holidays, most of the literature would conclude that the majority of people gain a couple of pounds during those few weeks at the end of the year.

When weight gain happens during the holidays, we know that it isn’t a gain in muscle mass or an increase in bone density. It is fat accumulation because we are making choices that we don’t usually make by either eating more food or different kinds of food.

DR. CHAD LARSON

We just went through Thanksgiving, and if you indulged and celebrated with the people you love and had a wonderful time then don’t feel guilty. But now is a great time to ask what are the things that we can do to stop weight gain before the holidays are over? Indulgence is just a part of our culture, but how can we override it so that we aren’t playing catch up in January to lose all the weight we accumulated over the holidays?

The first tip you can try is to be mindful that you are more prone to weight gain during the holidays.  And, therefore, devise a process of thinking through what food choices you are making instead of eating blindly.

The second tip is to be mindful of where you position yourself at a party when there is a lot of food around. Try not to hover around where the snacks are. And if you do grab snacks, try to choose those things that are more healthy. It is okay to indulge, just be mindful of what you are eating so that it doesn’t accumulate too quickly because you weren’t thinking.

The third tip is to bring your own dessert. I brought a dessert to Thanksgiving that was a gingerbread pumpkin cheesecake. It was totally sugar free, but no one thought so because it tasted so good. When you bring your own dessert, you can indulgence and know that it is sugar free, or low sugar, and okay.

The fourth tip is to beware of alcoholic beverages, it is a fast way to increase sugar and carbohydrates. Actually, try to be aware of all beverages and their content. Beverages are a way to accumulate fat very fast. So try to eliminate beverages sweetened with sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and instead choose flavored carbonated water or those sweetened with sugar/HFCS alternatives.

Use stevia and monk fruit alternatives when possible to substitute for sugar. They hit the tongue and tell it that you ate something really sweet, when you didn’t so it doesn’t lead to an insulin spike. Also, try to eliminate refined foods or anything made from flour. If it is made from flour, then it is going to cause an insulin spike, which determines whether you are burning fat or not. Try to choose those foods that have a low amount of sugar or processed grain-based carbohydrates.

The fifth tip is to try to work on intermittent fasting. Extend your overnight fast to 12, 14 or even 16 hours. You can have your coffee, tea, or water. If you increase the time before your first meal, then it will lower your insulin and will signal to your body to ramp up fat burning. If possible, try to do a 24 hour fast to balance the indulgence that you might be taking in. That will help to keep your blood sugar down to decrease the risk of weight gain, instead crash dieting come January.

Hopefully those are actionable holiday tips to keep weight gain down. Oh, and don’t forget about exercise. Take the family for a hike after eating to keep the fat burning going. Over the next several weeks I will continue to read the studies and hope that you enjoy the holidays.

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