EXTRA! Exercise Excess KOs Millions

Skip the Holiday Gorge Games

Dec 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

You may think that timing your recovery phase to coincide with the gluttony season of Thanksgiving and Christmas is cruel and unusual punishment. But the fact is, you'll need less fuel during this period of recovery than you did over the summer. A 160-pound male endurance athlete can burn more than 4,000 calories a day during peak training but only 2,700 calories while sitting on the couch watching the Rose Parade on TV. As you move from glazed yams to honey-baked ham, approach each holiday event the same as you would any athletic endeavor: with a plan. BEWARE THE CALORIC H-BOMBS. Limit sugar cookies, martinis, Brie and crackers, pumpkin pie à la mode, etc., to one small serving. "Remember the law of diminishing returns," says sports nutritionist Kimberly Brown, a competitive marathon runner and triathlete. "The more you eat of something, the less pleasure you receive. A bite or two delivers 90 percent of the pleasure with only 10 percent of the calories."

NEVER SHOW UP TO A DINNER OR PARTY ON EMPTY. Eat a light, healthy snack—like a handful of almonds or a piece of fruit—beforehand. Showing up ravenous will lead to overeating.

DESIGNATE YOURSELF THE DRIVER. This will automatically (we hope) limit you to one calorie-laden drink, tops.

GRAVITATE TOWARD COLOR. Natural foods rich in color are higher in antioxidants (which help speed the recovery process, in addition to boosting your immunity) and disease-fighting phytochemicals. Good winter food choices are sweet potatoes, cranberries, winter squash, pumpkin soup, and dark-green vegetables. If you must imbibe, choose more nutritionally dense wine over beer or hard liquor.

USE WATER TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. Liquid is filling, and consuming one alcohol- and calorie-free drink (like flat or fizzy water) between each course or alcoholic beverage will help you avoid overconsumption.

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