So it is “that” time again, or better yet that “season”. All sorts of triggers around us innocent mostly-carb-avoiding keto dieters. We have Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc and of course New Years (parties). Let us not forget one not so really but damn close enough “holiday” – our beloved Superbowl Sunday! These are trying times in the life of a low-carber or anyone looking to stay in shape and not derail their fat loss and efforts.
So what can you do to stay the course or at the least, keep any “damage” you may do to the absolute minimum?
Keepin’ it Keto
Lets be honest, us Ketotonains love this time of the year, not because of the junk food that may be all around us but more of the food we really love. Meat and cheese trays, all sorts of low carb finger foods, etc etc. So in that regard it is pretty easy to “keep it keto” even though you may eat more calories then you usually do, at least the stress of being “kicked out of ketosis” is not on the table. (Not that ketosis really matters but that is another topic for another day)
There really is no excuse this time of the year (other than those darn peanut butter cups on Halloween) to be able to stay keto since there are so many low carb foods that are part of the holidays. So if you plan to keep on course, not “cheat’ as well as overeat then pat yourself on the back, you are the real MVP’s of the season and have found that keto is not so much a “diet” but a way of eating and you have the control to stick to it.
Decide in advance if you plan to stay the course or not.
You should prepare yourself mentally for these events, prep yourself, your willpower and your state of mind and envision hat you see happening. Do you plan to stay strict and not partake in not only “unfriendly keto” foods but also eating just way too much, keto or not. Do you know from past experiences or you just know yourself too well that you will probably end up eating stuff/junk you really should not. Or maybe you realize you are a grown adult and can handle one day off plan and can bounce right back without screwing you up for the next few weeks. Try to plan ahead now so that you are not stressing out for weeks on end leading up to the big day(s).
Prepare for the big day – diet a little harder – “Earn your Carbs”
For those who know you can’t resist, plan ahead. Maybe give yourself a goal weight or a certain pant size to get down to so when the day comes you are so ahead of the game that you can “reward” yourself (nice way of saying eating junk) and it won’t do much if any damage. Lose 15-20lbs leading up to the big day and enjoy yourself.
Or if you find that too stressful then just “prep” the week before. Get real strict with your diet, keep calories AND fat low and prime yourself for the carb debauchery. If you normally eat 2000 calories a day or 14,000 calories a week then try 1,000-1,200 cals a day for 5-7 days prior to the big day (keep protein high and fat lower). That is only 7,000-8,400 calories whereas your normal week is 14,000 so a deficit of 5,600 to 7,000 calories. In theory if you eat 5,000 to 7,000 calories in that one holiday event you should/won’t get fat. Yes you will add some/ a lot of water but it goes away in a few days.
So you are giving yourself some padding to say, some “breathing room” in case you over do it. And you will see that even if you over do it, a few days later after all the water and bloat is gone, you will feel fine and look fine! Sometimes this is a good thing, the “whoosh effect” as it is called.
You can employ the “nuclear warhead” of diets and do a week of PSMF prior to the holiday get together. PSMF stands for Protein Sparing Modified Fast, very high protein and very low fat an carbs; you can learn more about that here: PSMF.
Again you may end up coming out of it looking and feeling just fine!
This is similar to priming a car before you paint it. You prep the surface in such a way that when it is time to apply that paint and clear coat it is near imperfection free!
So prime your body and enjoy yourself. Very similar to how fitness and bodybuilding competitors do when dieting for a show and then their post show “binge”. The next day, post binge they look better than before they started! Yes this is not only possible but very common. But don’t go overboard.
Bring out the “big guns” – Intermittent Fasting
For those of us who also practice intermittent fasting this is even easier, almost laughably easy. Why? Because fasting is a super effective/easy/fast way to create a major caloric deficit.
Intermittent Fasting is the treadmill of the 21st century. What I mean by this is; in decades past we would eat too much then go workout do hours of cardio, like a damn rat spinning our wheels and punishing ourselves. In reality how many calories did we just burn? 300? 400? 600?
Enter Intermittent Fasting.
Skip ½ or the whole day? You just skipped on eating anywhere from 1200-2200 cals (just rough #’s). That is like 8hrs of cardio and its SUPER EASY 🙂 Just don’t eat! (fast)
You can fast a little longer than you normally do leading up to the big day(s) and then fast even longer the day after the “event” (holiday parties). Post food fasting aka “damage control” is another tool and typically just makes you feel better, drop some water weight and bloat. Works really well and makes you feel great. But plan it ahead, put it on paper, don’t punish yourself and feel the post food fast is a punishment. Just plan it as part of the protocol.
In addition to fasting, grazing is my secret weapon. On holidays especially Thanksgiving I don’t really sit down to large meals/servings. Instead I graze all day. Small little bits of food all day long. Then when it is time to sit down, I eat some turkey (just to say I did) and some low carb stuffing, a very moderate child-like serving and then back to grazing “desserts” later on or no desserts at all. This really works wonders as you feel satisfied all the time with the constant small yet satisfying portions and don’t feel deprived as well as full and bloated.
When all else fails, “Ketofy”
This can actually be pretty fun and a challenge to give yourself. Come up with all sorts of “keto” versions of the common carb loaded foods. This is rather easy with the various high fiber, low to moderate fat products out there. Cauliflower seems to be a top choice to replace certain carb foods. You can also make low carb desserts, Protein Sludge etc. There really is no excuse, with the internet you can learn to copy cat any recipe and “keep it keto”. And if you are going to someone’s house, bring stuff with you. I do it every year and no one cares because they are happy you brought something (insert smart guy meme here)
My advice is see if you can stick to your keto macros and build up such willpower that these holidays parties or event’s will do nothing to you, they won’t break you. That is probably the best thing to do especially for those who have an unhealthy relationship with food or come from a binge eating background.
As far as the best method to prepare for the days where you know you may go off plan. I follow the “earn your carbs” mantra. I don’t like post binge punishment. (fasting too long after you ate crap). This works really well for those that like to follow a cyclical ketogenic diet or PSMF that implement random but planned in advanced carb or “refeed” days. The various carb and refeed days can be worked into the holidays perfectly and help you stay on course.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare and almost nothing can go wrong. And often you are so proud of what you accomplished that you decide you do not want to ruin what you just did by eating crap. Trust me I have done this many times; passed on eating junk even though I prepped successfully for it! A win-win!
If you are able to diet a little harder, drop some extra fat not only does this give you a nice goal to look forward too but you will come out of this with zero issues. I don’t ever partake in off plan eating unless I earned it well that is not including those random “snaccidents” that happen from time to time.
I usually drop an extra 7-15lbs leading up to, preparing for the holiday season. Try it and see how you make out!