How To Avoid Holiday Fat Gain Without Counting Calories –

By Jason Leave

Please don’t be the person who shows up to your holiday party with a food scale.

Seriously. Stop doing this.
Seriously. Stop doing this.
There are many ways to ensure you stay on point with your diet during the holiday season.

The time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is a tumultuous time for the fitness minded person.

For some of us, counting macronutrients is an easy endeavor. If you’ve been tracking your intake for a good amount of time, you may find it simple to estimate your portions and have a good idea of how many calories you’re taking in.

For the vast majority of us, calorie counting isn’t an every day activity.

What should you do if you’re not a “counter”?

How should you be sure you don’t gain inches along with your presents this holiday season?

By employing a few, simple, healthy eating habits, anybody can stay on track and keep their pants fitting loosely throughout the entire month of December.

How To Avoid Holiday Fat Gain
Rule #1: Don’t “count” anything at your holiday parties.

Holiday parties happen once per year. They are meant to be enjoyed.

Nobody enjoys going to the party and doing constant mental math while trying to tabulate calorie (or macro) totals.

Going to a holiday party thinking you are going to “stay on point” is a set up for disaster.

You will likely find yourself losing track of how much you have consumed.

Our tendency as humans is to be “all in” or “all out”. Once we have realized that we have lost track, we tend to flip the “screw it” switch quickly.

This can be a set up for disaster, as binges often follow.

Instead, tell yourself you will “count nothing”, but be “sensible”. Relax and enjoy yourself. Have a few snacks and treats. Do so with a clear, level head and you will do much less damage than you think.

Rule #2: Eat lean protein and veggies leading up to the holiday party.

Two food choices which always fill you up nicely are lean protein and fibrous veggies.

For breakfast and lunch on the day of your holiday party, keep your protein choices lean and get plenty of fiber into your system.

Make your last meal before your outing as close to your departure time as possible in order to minimize your chances of getting to the party and having hunger pangs.

This is how you “detox”.
Rule #3: Pick one dessert at the party and eat as much of it as you wish.

The paradox of choice is tricky.

Nobody wants to attend a holiday party and skip all the desserts. Trying to do so is likely to cause you to feel deprived, which can set the stage for a letdown.

If there’s a dessert you love with all your heart – go for it. Eat it slowly and enjoy the taste. Even go back for a second helping if you wish.

Seeing the party as a “dessert buffet” can be dangerous.

You’ll find yourself going from the cheesecakes, to the cookies, to the candy, to the………..well……… get the idea.

Choose your one dessert wisely, and stick to it.

Rule #4: Choose your alcohol wisely.

Egg nogs and Christmas cocktails will add empty calories which will only make you hungrier – and more prone to binging as you begin to feel buzzed.

The best alcoholic choices at holiday parties are non-flavored liquors and zero calorie mixers. Dry, red wines are another excellent choice.

Heavy, holiday beers will have 2-3 times the calories. As will other sugary, carby holiday favorites.

Aim for drinks without added sugars and mixers.

Yum, yum!
Rule #5: Hydrate yourself at the party.

The “booze munchies” are generally a sign of being dehydrated, not being hungry.

Being sure to stay hydrated is one of your first lines of defense in order to keep yourself from overeating.

For every alcoholic beverage, drink a bottle or a glass of water.

Rule #6: Don’t take home any leftovers.

When the host tries to hand you a large, Ziplock bag full of goodies to take home, be sure to say “Thanks, but no thanks”.

If you keep the party going for the days following your event, you will find your weight expanding accordingly.

Side note: If the party is at your house, be sure to give away all the extras to your guests. If they refuse, promptly throw your leftovers away.

Feel no guilt for this – no starving children ever were fed because a random person ate all the leftover cookies from a Christmas party.

Rule #7: Turn your food into gains in the weightroom.

The best part about strength training is the mindset it creates inside of you.

Instead of trying to “pay off the credit card” by doing cardio, “start building a house” in the weightroom.

Smash the iron and make those calories count.

Turn that stuffing into gains.
Rule #8: Turn the page as soon as your party is over.

Holiday weight gain isn’t caused by attending four parties during the Christmas season.

Holiday weight gain is caused by eating like crap on all the days between the parties.

When your party is finished, get to the grocery store and get some solid, home-cooked, nutritious meals.

No dining out, no ordering pizza, no carry-out food………….make delicious and tasty meals for your family to enjoy – together – that contain lots of veggies, protein, and whole food carbohydrates.

Rule #9: Never weigh yourself after a holiday party.

Scales are notoriously faulty after large feasts.

The excess stomach content, cellular glycogen, and water weight from the additional carbs will drastically overestimate your consumption.

A surefire way of feeling defeated is to step on the scale in the few days following your eating splurges.

It’s best to steer clear for a few days until your body rids itself from the excess baggage.

No, no, no, no, no!
No, no, no, no, no!
By following these simple, straight forward tips, you’ll like the number you see when you step on the scale in early January.

Happy Holidays,




If I had a £1 coin for the amount of people that tell me they eat really ‘well’, ‘healthy’, ‘ I don’t eat much’ and the ‘I train so hard all the time’.

Yet are left bemused why they aren’t progressing week-to-week, month-to-month and year-to-year.

Now for me, there is quite clearly a disconnect. For most people nutrition is confusing, too much information out there with conflicting messages.

So my advice with that one, is follow those that have the same message and know what they are talking about (I’m not a bad shout).

Secondly you need to follow the underlying principles of what works, this article should solve that problem. And I hope 1 person tries it for a period of time as it means I have helped 1 additional person, which is always great!

Lastly, you need to learn how to get the most of your ‘diet’ and by this I mean being able to actually eat plenty of food to feel happy, full and satisfied and not hangry on your new found diet.

Let’s dive in!

Look at the picture below, same breakfast or meal right?


On the left we have 640 calories

On the right we have 225 calories


Full fat natural yogurt
Pre bought smoothie

Total 0% yogurt
Greens powder added to a bottle of water

An almost identical breakfast with 2 very different implications to your daily calorie allowance (the right one is the smartest option for a successful and easier ‘diet’).

The option on the right is fundamentally what getting the most (food) out of your diet is all about, it will fill you up about the same but you are eating 400 kcal less.

Eat more protein
Eat more veg
Eat foods high on satiety index
Eat low fat or non-fat options.

Fat is thee most energy dense macronutrient in our diet and provides more than twice the amount of calories per g compared to protein and carbohydrates. This means that if we eat a whole lot of foods rich in dietary fat, we are likely going to over consume calories and not necessarily get the most out of our diet. And no fat isn’t bad but opting for lower fat and fat free options makes infinitely more sense to control our calories (as we would get the same amount of food for less calories).

The table above demonstrates 5 different fruits and their nutrition information for 100g, which one would be more filling if you were going to consume 160kcal from fruit?

Strawberries right?

You would be able to eat 484g of strawberries for the same caloric yield as 100g of avocado.

You get a lot more food for your buck, this isn’t to say that the other fruits are absolutely obsolete and should never be consumed but it is wise to make smart decisions and see your diet more as a financial budget and to use it wisely depending on your hunger levels.

If hunger is easily satisfied then have the avocado but if it isn’t then we need to be bold with our choices.

The same can be said for protein sources, if we are on low calories then what would be the most filling per calorie due to its volume?

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 12.17.28

Egg whites and tuna seem to be our best ‘bets’. You can have nearly triple the protein for the same amount of calories if you have 300g egg white compared to 100g eggs. Again you can see how this may matter when it comes to making you full, the egg whites quite simply provide you with more food and more protein.

This obviously isn’t what you have to do but this goes to show you that just eating ‘healthy’ isn’t going to cut it, you still need to control your intake. I like to mix whole eggs and egg whites to control calorie intake whilst upping the protein density of the meal.

Also I want to mention this to let you know that this isn’t a banned food list but to literally demonstrate some examples of how to perhaps get more food out of your diet whilst controlling energy intake.

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 12.18.44

The table above pretty much sums up why snacking may not be the best thing for weight loss, most of these options are high in calories and do not provide much fullness. I know that you wouldn’t necessarily eat 100g of chocolate as a snack but if you did, look at how many calories.

You could eat 500g of tuna and be full and consume same calories as 100g chocolate and not be full (I do not recommend eating 500g of tuna, that would be grim).

But if you swap the chocolate or crisps out for that 0% Greek Yogurt with some fruit then you could save calories and consume more protein, that would be a worthy habit change and keep you fuller for longer.

One of the key things to do when dieting is focusing on satiety (on feeling full) first and foremost with your dietary decisions and it may leave a little wiggle room later in the day for something totally awesome like ice cream or whatever!

Don’t diet and work up a ravenous appetite by eating very little in terms of portion sizes (easy to do with cereals, chocolate and crisps).

Your diet is a budget, if you aren’t losing weight then you aren’t making the right choices, swap things around to reduce your calorie intake and ensuring adequate protein intake.

Pay attention to how much you are putting into your body in terms of calories and food and make adjustments!

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