The Cyclists’ Ultimate Holiday Season Survival Guide

Don’t end a productive year of training with the consequences of out-of-control Holiday eating!

The Cyclists’ Ultimate Holiday Season Survival Guide

After spending most of the year eating well, sudden increases in sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol throw your sleep, workout performance, recovery, and mood all out of whack. We want you to feel good and have fun during the Holidays so you can put your best foot forward in the New Year. Here’s how to do it.

You don’t have to live like a monk for the month of December. There will be a lot of good food and great wine at upcoming social events. The key is to manage your indulgences. Enjoy them fully, but manage them in terms of number and frequency.

In life as in nutrition, go for quality instead of quantity. You want to have dessert? Get your absolute favorite and really enjoy it instead of sampling a bunch of items you will forget within minutes. The same goes for wine. If you’re going to drink, have a glass of the really good stuff instead of a bottle of something mediocre.

The CTS Coaches have used the following guidance to help thousands of athletes emerge from the Holiday Season feeling great, rested, energetic, and ready to go.

6 Holiday Season Recommendations

1- Step away from the buffet: The closer you stand to the food, the more of it you’re going to eat. You’re at the party to socialize with friends and family. Visit the food, and then find a good location away from it for people watching and catching up.

2- Shorten your workouts: Just because your schedule is packed, that’s no reason to forego exercise. Even short workouts are beneficial and it doesn’t take much to stave off detraining. Yes, short workouts help with maintaining caloric expenditure, but more important, workouts that are even 30-45 minutes help keep your fitness from decaying. If you have a little more time, try these indoor cycling workouts under 60 minutes.

3 - Seek healthy food options: Cranberries are packed with antioxidants, sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene, and smoked salmon is a great source of quality protein. Want a simple dish to take to a party? Slice sweet potato wedges, spray lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and cayenne pepper before baking at 350 degrees until soft in the middle and crispy on the outside (about 20 minutes).

4 - Stay sober: Alcohol has no redeeming qualities for athletes. There might be some long-term health benefits for moderate alcohol intake, but in the short term it’s not doing you any favors. The more you drink at a party, the more you’re going to eat, and your food choices will likely steer toward sugar, salt, and fat. Alcohol reduces the quality of your sleep, which hinders your recovery from training. In December your training hours are likely already down due to social and work commitments. Alcohol just adds insult to injury by hindering your recovery and diminishing the quality of tomorrow’s workouts. Fortunately, there are a growing number of non-alcoholic mocktails and non-alcoholic beers that taste better than the ones you remember.

5 - If you drink, make good choices: Beer has fewer calories per ounce, but wine is served in smaller quantities. A four-ounce glass of wine has about 90-95 calories. Beer has a range, since light beers are about 100 calories for 12 ounces and craft beers are about 160-180 calories for 12 ounces, which can bump up to about 240 for a full pint. There are about 95-100 calories in a typical 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof (40% alcohol) spirits. If you’re having mixed drinks, try to choose low-calorie or no-calorie mixers like seltzer/sparkling water instead of tonic water. And nurse your drink; people won’t try to get you a new drink if there’s already one in your hand.

6 - Arrange your plate wisely: Go through the buffet line and fill the surface of your plate. Spread the food out, but avoid piling it up. Research into eating behaviors shows you are extremely likely to finish whatever you put on your plate, even though eating more food doesn’t increase your level satisfaction. At the same time, people also eat with their eyes, in that what you see on your plate affects your anticipation of feeling full or getting enough. This is where the “small plates” theory sometimes fails people. You see the small plate, and even though the amount of food on it is enough to satisfy you, there’s still a sense of deprivation. One potential way around this sense of depriving yourself is to take the big plate and distribute the food more widely. If it sounds like a trick, that’s because it is. But then again, our brains trick us all the time into eating and drinking more than we should; at least this is a trick in your favor.

5 Things to Avoid During Holiday Season

1- Don’t go to the party hungry: Having a snack or a small meal before heading out to the party will keep you from gorging yourself. The best foods for this snack are high in fiber or low on the glycemic index, because these are the most filling. Think vegetables and hummus rather than cookies.

2 - Don’t skip meals to “save up” calories: Some people skip breakfast or lunch in anticipation of indulging at a party. Despite good intentions, this often accentuates cravings and provides a false sense of “I’ve earned this”. Where you might have normally indulged a little bit, you end up going overboard.

3 - Don’t let stress wear you down: People make poor decisions when we’re tired and stressed out. Take a step back and look at the bigger picture of the holiday season. Find the days and weeks that will be tough because of schedules, parties, and travel; as well as the days where you can recuperate and pencil in time for yourself.

4- Don’t take or keep leftover sweets: Make your home your refuge from the holiday dessert overload. If you go to someone else’s party, don’t leave with their extra pie or cookies. If it’s your party, give the pie someone else. Take treats into the office the next day, but don’t keep them in your house. If no one will take them, toss them.

5- Don’t close down the party: Make a memorable appearance at the party, socialize, eat, drink, thank the host, and then find a reason to leave. The longer you stay, the more you will eat and drink, and the later it gets, the more you’re likely to overindulge, in a variety of ways.

It’s important to keep the holiday season in perspective and do your best to maintain your normal routines. Continue exercising, but don’t obsess about every calorie you put in your mouth or burn off with activity. And even if you start to gain weight, it’s not the end of the world; just keep your gains under control. Three to five pounds will melt off within a few weeks after the holidays, but it could take well into the spring to shed 15. Above all, stay safe and enjoy the opportunities this season presents to spend more time with friends and loved ones.

The above is a short excerpt from the full CTS TrainRight article, to read the full article, please visit:

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