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How to Overcome Holiday Cheat Meals

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Nov 24,2023|11 min| 576
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Use the Holiday meals to your advantage

It is that time of the year, when the calendars are packed with back to back holiday festivities for a few weeks in a row, and you know what that means…a lot of extra calories. Now, this is great if you are on a bulk, or just not trying to cut weight, but regardless of your goals, the holiday meals can either drag you down and make you overly fat going into the New Year, or be used to your advantage. Whether your goal is muscle mass or strength, you have to take into consideration how to put those excess calories to good use, and pay attention to staying on track.

 Let’s take a look at what it takes to overcome the holiday food binges!

Don’t Be Afraid to Eat Around the Holidays

The first thing to discuss is not being afraid to eat. Especially if you are a bodybuilder, the idea of eating off diet and getting in some less than ideal meals may frighten you, but do not let it. If you are a powerlifter, your diet is probably less restrictive, but what you eat still may be something you monitor closely. However, eating a cheat meal here and there will not kill your gains, and if you are really concerned then do the best that you can to count your macros. 

You also have to take into consideration that a lot of these holiday meals are not necessarily just junk food. Sure, there are plenty of pies and cookies that will be shared throughout the season, but hopefully you have enough self-control to not go overboard with the sweets (though we know it is extremely tempting). What we are talking about though are the main courses and even the side dishes during the holiday dinners, typically they are not awful for you, and will often be good food sources with some solid macros. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Main Holiday Dinner Courses

  • Turkey- Lean meat, high in protein and low in fat

  • Ham- Lean meat, high in protein

  • Steak- High in protein, good source of iron

  • Fish- Provides essential omega-3 fatty acids, high in protein 

Side Dishes

  • Vegetables- Provides necessary nutrients

  • Mashed potatoes- Good source of carbohydrates

The dishes that you eat around the holidays are not necessarily bad for you, but if you want to be very cautious, you should watch out for what they are made in. For example, some glazes that you may find on a holiday ham can be extremely high in sodium, and if that is the case, you just have to drink enough water to flush it out and prevent bloat and other side effects. You also should watch foods that are absolutely smothered in butter, as butter can contribute to clogged arteries and no one wants to go through that.

Portion Control

One way to overcome the unwanted holiday weight gain is to practice portion control. If you are someone who does not want to pack on the extra pounds, then you can do so by not overeating. This does not mean starve yourself, but instead eat enough so that you are satisfied and do not feel overly full. If your eyes are bigger than your stomach it can be very easy to overeat, so start out by eating smaller portions and if you want seconds, grab them!

Start Your Bulk During the Holidays

Another way of using holiday cheat meals to your advantage is to go through your bulk during the holiday season. The winter season is typically when people will start their bulking phase, which is when you consume more calories than usual, with the goal of putting on size and strength. Then after that would be a maintenance or cutting phase. But, the holiday season is the perfect time to bulk up, as there is a lot of food being thrown at you during these weeks, and honestly, Thanksgiving is a great time to kick off your bulking phase.

Think about it, the chances are that you consume a large amount of calories at Thanksgiving dinner, then there are more holiday gatherings throughout the following two months, so it is the perfect time to continue the bulk. Knowing that you are bulking also helps to relieve a little stress when you know you are going off-diet every now and then for the holidays. You can continue to consume more calories throughout the winter, then by early spring you can get ready to get shredded for summer. 

Training Harder During the Holidays

The best part about holiday meals is the skin ripping pump that you get when you are in the gym the next day. Or even eating the leftovers from a holiday meal a few hours before your training session, these foods deliver great workouts overall. The excess calories are a great source of fuel to train harder, heavier, and with more volume. You can hit new one rep maxes and really utilize the extra food to fuel those gym sessions that will require more out of you. 

Now, keep in mind that food sources contribute directly to strength and recovery, meaning the whole foods that you eat will be better for your gym progression. Of course, if you have a slice of pie before going to the gym, it is not like your gains will just go away, however, thinking long term during the holiday season, perhaps sticking to the leftover turkey and mashed potatoes will be better for maxing out on the bench press.

New Training Program 

With having more food in your system during the holiday season, it can be extremely beneficial to start a new training program that will really test your limits. Finding a program that helps to build strength as well as size would be optimal for putting those holiday cheat meals to good use. 

That being said, if you are looking for a program to use, the Boostcamp App is a great place to find programs for all of your needs. Boostcamp is home to over 50 free programs that cater to your needs, whether your goal is powerlifting, bodybuilding, Olympic weightlifting, or whatever else you may be interested in. You also can create your own programs, track your workouts, and really get a grasp on your fitness, which is perfect to keep you from slacking off, especially during the holiday season.

Don’t forget to throw in cardio work with whatever program you go with, as it helps to keep your metabolism in check, your heart healthy, and keeps the fat off

Holiday Cheat Meal Training Wrap Up

Overall, the holiday season is typically filled with great food, and chances are you will go a little off-diet if you choose to indulge in it. That being said, there are plenty of ways to avoid an excess amount of weight being gained, such as portion control, training harder, and using this time to start your bulk.

What is your favorite holiday meal?

For finding the best training routines, check out the Boostcamp App, where you can choose from over 50 free training programs or even create your own. Boostcamp also allows you to track progress, so you know how to adjust each week.


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