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“Ho ho holy s**t!”

That’s what you might find yourself saying when you step on the scale January 1, especially if you believe media reports that the holidays will bloat you up like a certain morbidly obese, gift-giving elf.

The truth, however, according to research from the New England Journal of Medicine, is much more cheerful. The average weight gain between Christmas and New Year is only a little over a pound.

But with that said, big decadent meals and missed workouts due to travel and family time can knock you off your game, cost you progress in the gym, and set a bad precedent for the month (and year) to come. That’s why the smart move is to apply a few simple strategies to your holiday season festivities to prevent overeating and promote lean gains.

Stuff these five tips into your stocking and give yourself the gift you’ve always wanted: abs.

Healthy Holidays with These 5 Tips

Healthy Holidays With Your Holiday Season Survival Guide

1. Start With Protein

Aside from helping you recover from tough workouts, protein helps fill you up—it’s the most satiating nutrient there is. Nevertheless, most people eat very little of it, particularly in the morning. Very, very little.

That’s a mistake, because if there’s any time of day you want to start feeling full, it’s in the morning, so that you limit how much you can eat throughout the rest of the day.

One research study found that eating a higher-protein breakfast—35 grams—resulted in people consuming fewer total calories after dinner. That’s not a typo. The protein seemed to keep the subjects feeling full for the whole length of the day. If you’re the type who likes to start the day with a muffin, think about switching to some eggs.

2. Eat Frozen Dinners

Between parties, travel, and the general stress of the season, you’re kidding yourself if you think you’re going to have the time—or discipline—to cook your own meals. Make it easy on yourself by stocking up on frozen, pre-made meals.

Hang on a second—I’m not telling you to buy the typical TV dinner with a cardboard brownie in the center pocket. But some frozen meals can be nutritious as well as quick, and they offer one key feature that holiday buffets and family dinners can’t: portion control. My favorite brand? Stouffer’s Fit Kitchen. Each meal has at least 25 grams of protein and the line boasts flavors like bourbon steak and chipotle sweet potatoes, so they’re tastier than your average TV dinner.

No, it’s not “health food” per se, but when compared to the one thousand-plus calorie burrito or fast food burger and fries you’re likely to scarf down otherwise when you’re on the run, the Stouffer’s dinners are more than a fair compromise.

Considering that they’re ready in five minutes, which is probably all the patience you’ll have once you get home, frozen meals can keep you away from drive-thru windows and help you avoid falling too far off track with your nutrition.

Bonus points if you add an extra vegetable or salad on the side, which packs more stomach-filling fiber and health-promoting nutrients.

“My favorite brand? Stouffer’s Fit Kitchen. Each meal has 25 grams of protein and boasts flavors like bourbon steak and chipotle sweet potatoes, so they’re tastier than your average TV dinner.”

3. Skip Snacks

It’s a question as old as Shakespeare—to snack, or not to snack? My professional opinion is the latter. Snacking is often the result of boredom and availability, not physiological hunger, so it’s far too easy to consume tons of extra calories you don’t even really crave.

Americans currently eat over 600 calories daily from snacks—about 25% of their total intake for the day. Reducing that overall intake to the point where you create the deficit to actually lose pounds can be as simple as cutting out your 3:00 vending machine run.

Yes, some nutritionists say that eating snacks will help to curb your appetite in later meals, and, as mentioned above, protein certainly does that. But the majority of research suggests snacking will make you overeat. Limit your intake to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And should you indulge in party hors d’oeuvres or office break-room goodies, make your next main meal more conservative to compensate.

“Stuff these five tips into your stocking and give yourself the gift you’ve always wanted: abs.

4. Follow The Perfect-Meal Formula

Every time you sit down to eat, your plate should include a handful-size portion of protein. Regardless of the source (chicken, beef, fish, etc.), that will supply roughly 25–30 grams of the stuff—the perfect amount to keep you full till the next meal without negatively impacting digestion.

Now pour a pile of vegetables onto your plate. They can also serve as a bed (think stir fry or large salad). In whatever room is left, add a scoop of some healthy grains, like rice, oats, or quinoa. That’s the optimal ratio of foods for health, performance, and leanness.

5. Drink, Then Eat

Research out of Virginia Tech University found that when subjects drank two cups of water before each meal they lost significantly more weight than those who didn’t have water. It’s not exactly a magic bullet, but water helps fill you up in the way that protein does. Also simply restoring hydration in your body can help to control hunger, improve energy, and a host of other benefits.

There you have it. Five super simple yet uber-effective strategies to stay at the top of your game as you charge toward 2017. Come January 1, you’ll already have the ball rolling toward your fitness goals, as opposed to being behind the eight ball and having to start from scratch. Happy holidays!

“The protein seemed to keep the subjects feeling full for the whole length of the day. If you’re the type who likes to start the day with a muffin, think about switching to some eggs.”

For more nutrition tips from Chris Mohr go to: http://mohrresults.com.