This week the Fourth of July celebrations will occur. To me, the 4th means pool parties, cookouts, and fireworks. You can take two approaches to the holidays. The first is to let it be a “free day” with regards to your nutritional choices. It is perfectly acceptable to go to family gatherings and cookouts and eat a meal of hot dogs, potato salad, and dessert. You will most likely have some water retention the next day and notice that these foods may cause other issues as well (such as headache or fatigue). But the bottom line is that a weeks worth of eating healthy, fat-loss foods will not be ruined by one cookout. The secondapproach is to maintain your healthy, fat-loss lifestyle while enjoying all the festivities. This is the approach that I most often take now. The fatigue, stomach upset, and headache I often have the next day after a cheat meal are not worth it.
I still enjoy all the fun of the holiday, but none of the discomfort or feelings of guilt that I had in the past. To me, it is a mindset type of decision. Either choice is fine; do whichever makes you feel good and you are comfortable with. So for those of you that want to continue your healthy, fat-loss lifestyle through the holiday, I have FIVE TIPS FOR A FAT-LOSS 4TH:
1. EAT YOUR PROTEIN. Protein is extremely important for fat-loss nutrition for a number of reasons. It helps control hunger and cravings, it helps maintain muscle, and it increases the use of fat for energy. So, make sure you eat plenty of protein at your cookout. Ideal choices are kabobs, grilled chicken breast, and turkey burgers. But even a lower fat hamburger or steak are good choices.
2. EAT YOUR VEGGIES. Vegetables are an important part of a fat-loss nutritional plan because they are low in calories and full of fiber (with a much smaller amount of sugar and starch). As a result, veggies help regulate blood sugar, control cravings and hunger, decrease insulin release, and decrease fat storage. There are lots of ways to incorporate veggies into your 4th. These include:
- Serve raw vegetables with a Greek yogurt dip
- Bake sweet potatoes on the grill
- Incorporate them into you kabobs
- Create foil packets of cut-up veggies drizzled with a balsamic vinegar and cooked on the grill
3. DO NOT DRINK YOUR CALORIES. The best choices to drink are water, green tea, black tea, or coffee. It is important to stay hydrated when out in the summer sun, but a lot of drinks have hidden sugars in them. Think ahead before going to a cookout and bring a large container of water you have flavored yourself (with fruits or cucumbers). Who doesn’t love lemonade on a hot day? Make a large batch, sweeten with stevia, and share with your friends. Just a quick note about alcohol. It is fine to use in moderation as a cheat, but just be aware it slows fat burning for two reasons. The first is that it is broken down into acetate. Acetate is also a compound released when fat is burned. The body perceives the excess acetate from the alcohol and stops burning body fat. Second, alcohol causes dehydration which further slows fat-loss.
4. HAVE A FRUIT FOR DESSERT. A perfect scenario would be a starch free cook-out meal of grilled veggies and chicken or another protein and a beautiful fruit salad for dessert. There are so many beautiful fresh fruits available now. Berries are some of the best low-sugar, fat-loss friendly ones. Also, the festive red and blue colors of berries make them even more appropriate for the 4th. Frozen blueberries are also a fun and refreshing option.
5. PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS. Be active with your kids at the cookout. Swim with them or play ball with them. This can take the focus off food and give you quality time with your kids. Want to fit in adult time too? Start up a game with parents verses children or family verses family. Lastly, take your kids on a walk with you. It is a great time to talk, enjoy nature, and teach good habits.
The bottom line is that no matter how you choose to spend your holiday, it will be fine. If you choose the less healthy options, just pick up where you left off with your fat-loss nutrition the next day. If you choose to maintain your healthy fat-loss lifestyle over the holiday, that is fine too and you will still have a ton of fun. Trust yourself and do what works for you without GUILT! Have a Happy 4th!!!