Three months until we are presented with – and delighted by – the prospect of eating and drinking ourselves stupid which, of course, is not isolated to one day.
Work parties, friend catch-ups, family get-togethers; they all collide in an orgy of festive food and drink that promises to expand our waistlines, torpedo our fitness and leave us lurching towards a January detox slower than an asthmatic walrus trying to make it up the beach.
We’ve decided to strike first, get our retaliation in early and strip fat away now before Christmas layers it on faster than a puppy can unravel a loo roll.
Follow these six fast fat loss commandments to leave you heading for the festive season lean and mean, limiting the damage you’ll have to repair once you’ve taken down the tinsel.
Prepare your meals
One of the surefire ways to derail a diet is to end up with nothing to eat but a rubbish option. Avoid this all-too-common pitfall by planning and preparing your meals for the week. Spend some time on a Sunday night batch-cooking your lunches for the next few days. That way you’ll have a healthy go-to meal ready when you need it rather than heading for the supermarket where you’ll spend more and eat poorly.
Know your calories
If you’re looking to drop fat fast, calorie counting is tried and tested. The simple rule is that you want to be in calorie deficit. But first you need to use an online calculator to work out what your basic requirement is, then start dropping it by 500 a day.
Your aim is to lose fat, not muscle. That’s where protein comes in. Don’t stress about where you’re getting it from – eggs, mat, beans, dairy all have healthy amounts – but make sure you are maintaining a good amount in your diet as you lose some carbs. This will help you hold on to muscle mass and look awesome as the fat comes off. The other thing to note about muscle is that it’s metabolically active, i.e. it burns fat.
Get those veggies in
You’re in calorie deficit, you will be hungry, but bulking out your dinner with bad carbs will put the skids under your plan. Loading your plat with plentiful, colourful vegetables will not. So do it. Broccoli, peppers, leeks, cabbage, more broccoli, alongside your protein and a small amount of complex carbohydrates like sweet potato is the way to keep that hunger at bay.
It’s time to start going to the gym and lifting some weights. Remember what we just said about muscle. But don’t just do some heavy sets – get that heart rate up with some HIIT sessions, which will help you burn a lorry load of extra calories.
Expect to be tired, hungry and grumpy
You’re taking things away from your body that it has probably become used to. Why would it thank you for that? The key is to remember that it’s NOT for the long term – you can’t diet like this all year round. It’s for a specific period, for a specific reason (a holiday, a target weight, a photoshoot, or simply being in good shape before Christmas strikes). Good luck! See you on Boxing Day, looking superfly.