Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Noting the traditional holiday temptations, and the fact that it’s not uncommon to consume 6,000 calories on Christmas day, researchers at the UK’s University of Birmingham set out to show that it is possible to avoid gaining weight during the holiday season. They recruited 272 women, divided them into two groups and assigned those in one group to weigh themselves at least twice a week throughout the holiday season. They also educated these women about portion sizes, limiting alcohol and sugary drinks, and getting exercise. The other group simply received a leaflet about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but it did not contain the information about holiday eating. The women in the first group were additionally provided guidance on how much exercise would be needed to burn off certain foods and drinks – 16 minutes of running for three roasted potatoes, 33 minutes of walking to make up for a small glass of mulled wine, and 21 minutes of running for a slice of mince pie, for example. The results? The women who received the dietary advice and weighed themselves regularly didn’t gain any weight – in fact, they weighed an average of about a pound less after the holidays than before. Those who were given the leaflet gained almost a pound each. Eggnog anyone? That’ll be 390 calories for eight ounces, and it will take 40 minutes of jogging at 5 miles per hour to burn it off. A glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve contains 104 calories, which can be offset with 12 minutes of cycling.
Amanda Farley et al, “Effectiveness of a brief behavioural intervention to prevent weight gain over the Christmas holiday period: randomised controlled trial.” BMJ December 10, 2018 doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k4867
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