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Day 4: 12 Days Of Christmas Dieting

So far, we have covered a few different subjects that are getting you well on the way to battling the Christmas bulge. No one wants to put on extra body fat, but it is just so very hard to avoid all the extra calories. You say to yourself that it's just one day.... yeah right. It is every weekend in December, a full week over Christmas and new year, then New Year's Eve celebrations, surly it spells waistline disaster! Hopefully, if you follow my tips you can bypass the belly.

Day 4: - Offset the calories

I have mentioned before the importance of regular eating, I cannot emphasise this enough, it is so important to maintain balanced blood sugar and keep your metabolism high by frequent controlled meals. Here is the basic science behind it. You have a few hormones that regulate what actually happens to the food once it has been absorbed into the blood from your gut. Depending on whether you're exercising or being active or not will denote on if your body is going to use it or store it. This is massively important to avoid gaining fat. If you're always in a storing mode, you will be adding fat constantly.

You only store what you don't need......remember that. If throughout your day, you need around 2000kcal, you could eat it all in one sitting or in four or five portions. When you eat food, your body can only deal with so much at a time. If there is more than you can deal with, your body will have to store it away. It's these hormones that control whether it's used or stored, but, regardless of how much you exercise, if you just overeat in one sitting your body will be overwhelmed by the volume of calories, and you are forced to store it away. If you spread the meals throughout the day, you don't flood your body with more calories than you can cope with, and, you're far less likely to store any calories as fat. Therefore, you could gain fat, or not, eating the same amount of food daily by poorly distributing the calories.

However, in times of not eating these same hormones can use the stored calories and put them back into your system. It is a careful balancing act of food in, energy out and high and low blood sugar. This beggars the question; does it really matter then? Well, yes it does. If you spread your meals throughout the day you lessen the chance of adding fat. Yes, if your blood sugar is low, your body can elevate it by releasing your fat stores, but, it does have long term negative effects if you do this too often. Your body starts to lower its metabolism as it gets used to long periods of starvation. This is not good.

Back to the title then, offset the calories. If you regularly eat meals, your blood sugar and hormones are balanced. Your metabolism is high and all is good in the world. You then go and have a blowout meal, way more than you need. So how do you deal with preventing fat gain? Simple, just reduce the amount of food in the next two meals. If you were to have a massive Christmas lunch with all the trimmings and dessert, don't skip the mid afternoon and evening meal, just reduce them back to lean meat and vegetables. Miss out the starchy carbs or fat dense foods.

This way you cleverly keep your blood sugar and metabolism high and you'll feel full from the protein and fibre. By consuming less energy producing calories, your body will take them from your stored fat. Thusly you have offset the extra calories from lunch by removing them from the other meals, and, you've done nothing detrimental to your metabolism and have stemmed the impending fat gains.

The beauty of this method is you can allow yourself to enjoy a nice big meal without the worry of excess gain. You must remember, this only works when your body is used to eating regularly in the first place. If you're already a meal misser then the offsetting method is pointless as you're already skipping meal times and have a slow metabolism. Conversely, for you already lean fitness buffs out there, this method can actually help you get leaner! It works as a metabolism booster and can kick-start a plateauing fat loss, it may be referred to as re-feed.

I know I've done a slightly sciencey tangent on this one, but, understanding hormones and metabolism is key to understanding the science of putting food in your mouth and what it does to your body. If you understand these points, then it takes away the mystery of food and puts the control back into your hands. Having control allows you to manipulate food to your gain not let food manipulate you.

Look out for day 5 for the next gripping instalment of the 12 days of Christmas dieting.

Keep on liftin Ali 'Fat Al' Stewart