The festive season, packed with celebrations, parties, and family gatherings, often brings a shift in our eating patterns. While we typically indulge in more food, it might be surprisingly difficult to meet our daily protein requirements, which are essential for maintaining lean muscle mass, supporting metabolic functions, and overall health. It’s simply because traditional dishes and party foods are often rich in carbohydrates and fats but may lack sufficient protein.
Besides ditching our regular eating habits and overindulging in party foods, the busy nature of the season can lead to skipping meals or reliance on quick, less nutritious options, further complicating our ability to meet protein goals.
The good news is that you can have it all! Enjoy all your parties and hit your protein requirements without feeling bloated and gaining unnecessary fat. Whether you're attending a family dinner, a holiday party, or simply trying to maintain your routine amid the season's hustle and bustle, we've got you covered. Stay tuned as we uncover the secrets to enjoying the festive cheer while keeping your protein goals on track!
Prioritise Protein-Rich Foods
Start by including a good source of protein in every meal. This could be lean meats like turkey or chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, or plant-based options like tofu, legumes, and nuts. You need your protein spread out throughout the day, with one serving being after training for the most efficient muscle protein synthesis and recovery. This strategy can help maintain muscle mass and keep you satiated, reducing the likelihood of overeating on sweets and high-calorie festive foods.
Have Protein-Packed Snacks Ready
Have protein-rich snacks handy. Nuts, seeds, protein bars, or shakes can be convenient options, especially when you're on the go or busy with festive preparations. Be a pack flipper and look for options with no nasty additives or too much sugar. Our collagen protein bars, beef brisket bars and biltong are the best low carb options, full of natural protein and free of nasty additives. You can keep them in your car's glove box or handbag. No refrigeration is needed.
Modify Traditional Recipes
When preparing traditional festive dishes, try to modify them to increase their protein content. For example, you can add lentils to stews, use Greek yogurt in dips, or incorporate collagen powder into baked goods. You won’t taste the difference, especially using our flavourless collagen powder.
Watch Portion Sizes
It's easy to overindulge during the holidays, but being mindful of portion sizes can help you keep room for protein-rich foods. Balance your plate with vegetables, proteins, and a smaller portion of carbohydrates. Struggling to contain yourself in buffet or grazing plates situations? Put veggies and meat or fish on your plate first, eat it slowly, have a break, and then go for the rest. If you eat too fast or go for seconds too soon, you are not giving your brain enough time to register fullness. Waiting a little bit will make you eat less. Plus, eating slowly is way classier and sexier than shovelling food rapidly!
If you know you’ll be attending a party or event, plan your meals for the day accordingly. When you anticipate that there will be limited protein options, consider eating a protein-rich meal beforehand or bringing your protein snacks. Planning also involves planning the volume of your food. If you are heading for a huge dinner, eat little during the day, skip carbs, minimise fats, and eat just low-starch veggies and protein-rich foods.
Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Staying well-hydrated can help you make better food choices and control portions. Water also helps to metabolise protein. While protein is essential for numerous bodily functions, water is the medium that supports these functions. Adequate hydration ensures the body can efficiently metabolise protein, transport its components, facilitate digestion, and support muscle and kidney health. Aim to drink 2-3L of water throughout the day. Smashing a litre of water in one go won’t work; you must hydrate throughout the day. Start with a big glass of water (300ml) when you wake up, then sip water throughout the day. Counting bottles is easier than counting glasses. Get a big water bottle like this one and aim to have 2-3 of them in the day, depending on your level of activity and weather conditions. You need more water on hot, active days.
Pay attention to what you eat and enjoy your meals. This can help you recognise when you’re full and prevent overeating. Practice ‘eating meditation’, which involves deep breathing first, looking at the food and observing colours and shapes, smelling the food, and chewing each mouthful at least 20 times while thinking about how the taste changes. OK, this might not always be doable in social situations, but if you just pay a little bit more attention to what you are eating and slow down, it will make a big difference. Eating less and socialising more will also make you more popular.
Remember, it's okay to enjoy festive treats in moderation. The key is to find a balance that allows you to enjoy the season while still meeting your health and protein goals.