13 January 2020
The Holiday Weight Gain Study
Don’t start 2020 paying for your silly season sins. Tips from The Holiday Weight Watch Study. Santa has gone home, but with many of you on holidays until early February the potential for more social events, parties and less routine behaviour is ripe. With the parties…comes the party foods (highly calorie dense), the larger portion…
Don’t start 2020 paying for your silly season sins. Tips from The Holiday Weight Watch Study.
Santa has gone home, but with many of you on holidays until early February the potential for more social events, parties and less routine behaviour is ripe.
With the parties…comes the party foods (highly calorie dense), the larger portion sizes, the increased alcohol intake and the less restrictive eating with friends and family.
While numerous IG influencers will focus on surviving “The Christmas Blowout”, the reality is that dodging, deflecting and ducking the indulgent temptations across the 1-2 months post-Christmas will have a more profound influence on your 2020 physique.
There’s a reason why the large majority of “Resolutioners” or Jan 1stfitness bunnies fail in their efforts. It’s because they assume that the tasty persuasions and merrymakings are behind them post December 31st. This time of year, before school returns, while festival, “Sunday Session” and pool party season is in full swing…that is far from the truth.
Thus, the first step to actually achieving your physique and fitness goals set for 2020 is being aware that you’re still in a period primed for over-consumption and more sedentary behaviour, a more relaxed lifestyle, and higher frequency of social events. The second step is implementing tactics that encourage some restraint over your eating and drinking choices, while still allowing you to join in with the festivities.
A recent study testing the effectiveness of behavioural interventions for preventing weight gain over the holiday season gives us some ammo for our weaponry.
The study was a two group double blinded randomised controlled trial of 272 participants designed to test the effectiveness of an intervention involving regular self-weigh ins, tips for weight management, and information on the physical activity calorie equivalent required to “burn off” common festive foods and drinks to prevent weight gain over the holiday period, from December to March. The multicomponent intervention was informed by self-regulation theory and the habit formation modeland aimed to promote restraint of calorie consumption. The comparator group only received an information leaflet, amended from general public health information about leading a healthy lifestyle, with no dietary advice.
The goal of the intervention was for participants to gain no more than 0.5 kg of their baseline weight during the holidays, to allow for some flexibility related to the natural variation in weight throughout the day.
So, what happened?
In the intervention group, the average weight change over the holiday period was −0.13 kg (they lost 130g) whereas in the comparator group, who only received a leaflet, gained an average of 400g. After adjusting the average difference in post-holiday weight between groups for baseline weight, the comparator group gained on average 500g more than the intervention group.
In line with the aims of the intervention, participants in the intervention group were more likely to weigh themselves at least twice weekly than their comparators. It was hypothesised that the intervention would work by encouraging participants to reflect on their food and drink consumption and take action if their weight began to increase. The researchers found evidence that this occurred in participants in the intervention group, who showed statistically significantly higher cognitive restraint of eating scores post-intervention than participants in the comparator group.
What is already known on this topic:
Each year people, on average, gain a small amount of weight
Holidays such as at Christmas are responsible for most of this annual weight gain
Studies have shown that weight gained during holiday periods is not lost
What this study adds:
A simple intervention to increase restraint of eating and drinking through self-weighing, information on physical activity calorie equivalents of popular foods and drinks, and tips for weight management prevents weight gain over the December – March holiday period.
The holiday winter coat is avoidable folks, it just takes some self-monitoring, some mindfulness, and some restriction.
But…if you’re perfectly content with adding some fluff and feeling completely unrestricted in the holidays, then do whatever you wanna do!