Not even the diehard fitness enthusiast really wants to be a party pooper during the festive season, after all, tis the season to be jolly! We all like to indulge in some of the culinary delights that accompany Christmas, right? Right, and there should be no stigma attached to that either, especially if we consider how important a cheat day (be it once a week or once a month) is to maintaining our willingness to stay disciplined!
So in order to make your festive season a guilt free one, and one that could actually serve to incentivise you for the year ahead, we have devised 5 key stages to follow. These stages enable you to enjoy the festive culinary delights, but also act appropriately afterwards to put you in a muscle developing, fat burning, lean mass toning, and conditioned state.
Stage 1: Planning
The ability to visualise your goal is key to paving the way to reaching it. When it comes to setting health and fitness targets, it is not wise to set unrealistic goals as this sets you up for a fall. As you get further and further into your training regimen, the importance of planning becomes all the more apparent as you find yourself hitting a plateau and not knowing why. Had you recorded and monitored what you had done before, you would know what you need to do to intensify your training and refine your diet in order to kick start your gains!
To help you plan, spend 15mins setting yourself S.M.A.R.T Goals which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. These are simple and quite inspirational things to do…after all, setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible ~Tony Robbins~.
See our step by step article on how you can set S.M.A.R.T Goals: How S.M.A.R.T Goals Can Help Your Training, Dietary & Supplement Regimen!
Stage 2: Detox
Cleanse your system. This may sound like an airy fairy thing for some of you hardened gym goers out there, but if you’re having trouble sleeping, finding that you’re irritable and restless, catching every lurgy known to man (and occasionally women, although it’s never as bad as a man’s), and finding that you’ve hit a sticking point/plateau with your training, then it’s possible, if not probable, that you’re overtrained. If you’re not overtrained and you’re training 4-5 times a week with minimal rest, then it’s probable that you will be after a bout of poor nutrition, excessive alcohol consumption, and lots of late nights inherent of the festive period!
The answer is a detox. A proper detox will assist your body in mopping up any damaging free radicals (toxins) as well as restoring your body’s natural defences. Here’s a brief summary of how:
Consume ample amounts of the following nutrients:
Vitamin C and Beta-carotene
- Fruits and Vegetables:
Aim for 5 a Day (2 fruit and 3 veg), this ensures a balance of soluble and insoluble fibre as well as delivering a hit of antioxidants! Opt for the orange varieties such as oranges, apricots, papaya and mango, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato and pumpkin. These are packed full of Beta-carotene and Vitamin C which donate an electron to the free radicals resulting in a calmer, less radical atom, much like a less erratic wasp that is full of pollen and on its way back to the hive.
Also try onions, berries, apples and tea as an additional source of flavonoids andantioxidants, as well as lemon juice with honey and fresh ginger (according to taste), wheatgrass beverages and green tea.
- Vegetable Oils e.g. olive oil, nuts, soya, seeds, whole grains e.g. wholegrain bread, cereals, brown rice/pasta, also opt for sweet potato, beans and lentils and green leafy veg.
An ideal way to get all of the abovementioned nutrients is to blitz them together to form a soup or smoothie (seeds and nuts also blend well so can be included in these foods/drinks). For some perfect detox drinks, see our recent post on smoothies (their benefits far outweigh the perceived efforts needed to make one).
See our ‘Juice It Up To Spruce It Up’ article.
(Mann, & Truswell, 2007)
Stage 3: Calculate Your Nutritional Requirements
Here is how you can work out how many calories you need in relation to your training regime?
Factor this simple calculation for your age:
Aged 18-30 >>>>> 16.0 x weight (kg) + 545 = ……..
Aged 30-60>>>>> 14.2 x weight (kg) + 593 = ……..
Aged 60-70>>>>> 13.0 x weight (kg) + 567 = ……..
Aged 70+>>>>>>> 13.7 x weight (kg) + 481 = ……..
Aged 18-30 >>>>> 13.1 x weight (kg) + 558 = ……..
Aged 30-60>>>>> 9.74 x weight (kg) + 694 = ……..
Aged 60-70>>>>> 10.2 x weight (kg) + 572 = ……..
Aged 70+>>>>>>> 10.0 x weight (kg) + 577 = ……..
EXAMPLE: 26 year old, 80kg male
16.0 x 80kg + 545 = 1825kcal per day (BMR)
EXAMPLE: 29 year old, 60kg female
13.1 x 60kg + 558 = 1344kcal per day (BMR)
(NOTE: ‘kcal’ is commonly known as ‘calories’ & ‘BMR’ = Basal Metabolic Rate)
1825kcal is the BMR i.e. the amount of energy the above people would require just to maintain their daily bodily functions, such as breathing, pumping blood around the body, thinking etc.
In order to perform physical activity and exercise, the person will need additional calories for energy!
To sustain physical activity and exercise, we must therefore add a ‘physical activity level’ (PAL).
Light occupational activity (casual walking)
Non active= Male- 1.4 Female- 1.4
Moderately active= Male- 1.5 Female- 1.5
Very active= Male- 1.6 Female- 1.6
Moderate occupational activity (Moderate walking more than 30mins per day)
Non active= Male- 1.6 Female- 1.5
Moderately active= Male- 1.7 Female- 1.6
Very active= Male- 1.8 Female- 1.7
Moderate/Heavy occupational activity (Running and resistance training)
Non active= Male- 1.7 Female- 1.5
Moderately active= Male- 1.8 Female- 1.6
Very active= Male- 1.9 Female- 1.7
(Elia, 1990; Food Standards Agency, 2008)
To add a PAL you need to take your BMR i.e. your estimated calorie requirements for resting alone, and multiply it by the appropriate PAL (as shown above).
EXAMPLE: 26 year old, 80kg male
This person trains intensely a minimum of 5 days a week, and also works as a labourer on a busy building site, therefore we would deem this individual to be very active with moderate/heavy occupational activity (use the PAL that best applies to you)…..so apply the appropriate PAL to the above 80kg male example as follows:
1825kcal (BMR) x PAL of 1.9 = 3468kcal per day to maintain this persons weight relative to his physical activity levels.
Stage 4: Devise Your Diet Plan
Your S.M.A.R.T goals should enable you to focus on what it is you want to achieve, so now is the time for you to devise a diet plan of action. These will very much depend on your specific goals, but if you want lean muscle to predominate over fat, wellbeing, vitality and longevity to win over malaise, lethargy and poor health, then there are a few diet plan templates that can be modified accordingly to suit all!
Take a look through our diet plans and see which one suits your requirements best:
Stage 5: Training and Supplement Plan
Getting the balance right here is important. Remember that 80% of the battle is diet and 20% is training, and the two need to work in unison in order to maximise your gains. Whether you train in the morning or evening, be sure you take the right supplements, at the right time, and in the right quantities. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) (2010) state that your gym sessions should incorporate both compound and isolation moves, as well as dynamic bounding and bodyweight movements to support endurance. Most of the top bodybuilding, strength, and fitness athletes opt for ‘training splits’ when performing resistance exercises. Training splits involve focusing on one muscle group per training session (and occasionally it’s supporting muscles too) enabling you to focus your energy and allocate adequate rest time (approx 48 hours) between sessions, limiting the risk of overtraining.
Your supplement plan should fuel and focus you for your training session e.g. All in one supplement, Creatine, Carbohydrate/ isotonic drinks, Nitric oxide, and Arganine based supplements (consume them approx 30-60mins prior to your training session: see specific directions of use on the label). Your plan should also include supplements that limit catabolism (muscle breakdown) during training and replenish your amino acid pool immediately after e.g. Branched chain amino acids before and during training, and whey, pea, soya, hemp or egg protein within 30mins after training. To sustain an anabolic (growth) state and limit the catabolic (muscle breakdown) effect of strenuous training overnight, consume a casein protein shake approx an hour before bed as its amino acids will be released over a prolonged 7 hour period (Llewellyn, 2009).
Food Standards Agency, (2008). Manual of Nutrition, 11th Ed. London: TSO.
Llewellyn, W, (2009). Sport Supplement Reference Guide. FL: Molecular Nutrition.
Mann, J. & Truswell, S. (2007). Essentials of Human Nutrition, 3rd Ed. Antioxidants and Flavonoids. Oxford: Oxford University Press.