Soon the holidays will be upon us. For many of us, that means spending time with family and friends. It also means being around a lot of food, particularly sweets. This can make it one of the most challenging times of the year. How can you enjoy the holidays and still stay on track with your weight loss goals?
Dieting is tough—plain and simple! Every minute of every day is consumed with thoughts about what you eat, when you eat it and how much of it can you eat. Maneuvering around food-centered family gatherings can be difficult and trying to say the least, especially over the holidays when the menu includes turkey and ham, buttery mashed potatoes, and several other heavy side dishes. Sticking to your fat-free, low carb, sugar-free meal you’ve spent time to prep ahead of time suddenly seems unappetizing. You eat it and yet you’re still hungry, preferring to indulge in what everyone else is eating.
Does dieting work? Yes, of course it can. If you consume less calories than your body burns then the only outcome is weight loss. That is simple science. But when we’re on a strict diet, this time of year makes it even more challenging to stick to a regimented meal plan. Especially when there are cookies and cakes for dessert but you’re on a sugar-free diet. So, is there a way for us to see similar results of a diet without the all-consuming attention and deprivation a diet demands? We think yes!
If you are already on our physicians weight loss program then chances are you are already benefiting from appetite suppressants prescribed as part of your treatment program. If you’re not, and you’re going for weight loss unaided, we recommend taking a look at the benefits of intermittent fasting, especially over the holiday period.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and not eating. It’s not a diet, per se where you plan what you can and cannot eat, but rather a schedule of when you can eat. When done properly, you don’t need to limit the types of foods you eat and instead plan your meals for certain times of the day.
This Harvard health study explains the “how” of intermittent fasting:
IF [intermittent fasting] makes intuitive sense. The food we eat is broken down by enzymes in our gut and eventually ends up as molecules in our bloodstream. Carbohydrates, particularly sugars and refined grains (think white flours and rice), are quickly broken down into sugar, which our cells use for energy. If our cells don’t use it all, we store it in our fat cells as, well, fat. But sugar can only enter our cells with insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. Insulin brings sugar into the fat cells and keeps it there.
Between meals, as long as we don’t snack, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. We lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat.
There are a few approaches to intermittent fasting, but for the holiday period we at Physician’s Weight Control Center recommend the “16/8” method.
What does “16/8” mean? Well, it’s quite simple. You pick an 8-hour eating window that fits into your holiday schedule and fast for the other 16 hours. Let’s look at this example: you have a holiday party with friends planned for next Saturday at 3pm. Then Sunday, you have family coming over for an evening meal at 7pm. That means that you can implement an 8-hour eating window between 1pm and 9pm. Then, you don’t eat between 9pm and 1pm the following day.
What you eat during the 8-hour eating window is your choice. Obviously, the healthier the foods you eat, the better the results. Intermittent fasting won’t produce positive results if you’re binging on fatty foods or sweets during your eating window. But if you stick to reasonable portion sizes, you really can allow yourself to eat anything you want and not deprive yourself when someone brings homemade cookies to the office.
Intermittent fasting has proven results, from weight loss to improvements in metabolic health, which can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Fasting for 16 hours can sound extreme, but when you can schedule your fast overnight, it’s just as effective AND you’re asleep for at least half that time!
You can enjoy the holidays just like everyone else. Intermittent fasting can take some days to get used to, especially if you’re used to eating breakfast every morning. But you can get used to the process in a fair amount of time and see the results you’d get from stricter more limiting diets.
Of course, if you really want to ‘step up’ your weight loss and overall health and wellness, you can implement intermittent fasting AND introduce some really great eating habits and recipes recommended by Niki Claybrook, our in-house expert nutritionist.
At Physician’s Weight Control and Wellness, our weight loss programs are unique in that they are physician-guided and individually tailored to each patient. Because every patient is different, no two treatment plans are the same. The same philosophy applies to our nutrition consulting and coaching programs. These programs are designed to be the next step after meeting with our doctors to ensure your investment in your new lifestyle takes root.
We offer different programs to help you in tailoring a nutrition plan, from a simple 60-minute consultation if you’re a highly motivated individual to a 100-day guided program that will keep you on track in meeting your goals. Learn more about our nutrition program here. And as always, contact us with any questions or if you’re ready to start making positive changes to your health!
If you want to know more about the amazing benefits of intermittent fasting just keep an eye out for upcoming posts!