Holiday Weight Gain: 3 Easy Ways to Swap in Protein & Avoid Food Temptations by Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND
The holidays are a time to be around friends, family and, of course, food. But many of our holiday treats and dishes can be high in calories which – if overeaten –may lead to weight gain. In fact, according to a new study, the average respondent expects to gain 5 1/2 pounds before 2023. So why not arm yourself with a few tips to prevent putting on the extra pounds?
One way to resist unhealthy sweets and foods this season is to incorporate more protein into every meal while cutting back on refined carbs and fat. You’ll feel more full, so you’re likely to eat less and cut down on unhealthy snacking.
And protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, legumes and seeds also supply B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc and magnesium. So, while you’re cutting back on empty calories, you’re also getting the nutrients your body needs.
Here are some ways to swap in protein as you navigate all the holiday temptations:
- Have a Healthy, Protein-Rich Breakfast: Start the day with a high-protein breakfast – about 25 grams should do it. Try a meal replacement shake or oatmeal with protein powder blended in. Studies suggest that a protein-rich breakfast not only helps keep you full until lunch but may even help curb your intake over the course of the day.
- Incorporate Nutritious Snacking: Before heading to a holiday party, have a substantial snack like plain Greek yogurt, nonfat cottage cheese with fruit or a protein snack bar. Or grab something portable on your way out like a handful of unsalted nuts, a protein bar or a stick of low-fat string cheese.
- Be Selective About Holiday Food: Strive to keep your holiday meals on the healthier side. For your entrée, choose lean proteins like grilled fish, poultry or vegetarian sources such as beans and lentils, and go easy on high-calorie sauces and gravies. Cut down on the starchy sides like white rice, bread, mashed potatoes and white-flour pasta, and instead load up your plate with vegetables and salads, or protein-rich beans and grains such as lentils and quinoa.
And don’t forget to begin or maintain and exercise routine. It will not only help you maintain your waistline but can also help relieve holiday stress and set a good habit for the New Year!
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