It’s the year of the Boar and it’s all cute until your relatives agree that you are the mascot of the new year with your… physical gains. Joke’s on them though as you managed to find your way to this article!
Just to clarify, this article is not about trying to help you lose weight, but to help you reduce potential festive weight gains. Let’s be real with each other right from the start, because let’s face it: Losing weight is extremely difficult during CNY, especially with a barrage of steamboats, love letters, pineapple tarts and different sweet treats all day long, while trying to tank the relationship questions your relatives asks. Goodbye will power.
To seriously do some damage control, you want to start making caloric spaces before Chinese New Year, not during. This allows you to eat more during the main event so that you don’t miss out on the awesome stuff during reunion dinners. If you’re a fan of intermittent fasting, this would be a good week to practice that while making sure that the one or two meals you eat is not a huge binge! If not, I would suggest substituting half to three-quarter of your rice/noodles to vegetables, allowing you to make a greater calorie reduction without losing volume in terms of food.
However, remember to consider hunger and starvation is not what you’re striving for; you still need the energy to work, exercise, and interact with your highly stressful boss (don’t tell him about this article). Therefore, always make sure that you’re feeling fine, not super hungry.
Exercising before Chinese New Year
To increase the amount of calorie deficit, you’d probably want to exercise during this time too. After all, you’re likely going to find it hard to find time to exercise before, during or after visitation. 45 minutes of steady state cardio, 20 minutes of high intensity interval training, walking around the mall for hours shopping for clothes all contribute to energy your body needs to burn!
If you don’t have time at all, consider breaking your exercises into parts. Walking up the stairs on your way to work or home, 5 minutes of chair-based exercises every hour, or even 5 minutes of a circuit workout created with a bunch of burpees, push ups and squats goes a long way!
Weight Management Supplements
If you’re eating and exercising well, a supplement or two might be helpful to help you meet your goals! Most fat burners like the Grenade Thermo Detonator contain caffeine (we’re not talking about your regular coffee or tea!) which helps the body increase the amount of fat used - maximising your exercising efforts when you perform your cardio. This is even more effective if you are on a low-carb diet!
Alternatively, you can consider Optimum Nutrition's Burn Complex Thermogenic Drink Mix , which also has caffeine and other key ingredients to help increase metabolism! Protein shakes from Optimum Nutrition’s Burn Complex range does all that and also help to reduce your appetite while aiding muscle recovery after a good workout.
Treat Calories like Money
If the steps above were properly followed, you should now have more space to enjoy some sweet treats whilst still eating your main meals. Yay! If you did not, not to worry! This is where we start using the concept of rationing to help you!
The concept is simple: Treat your calories like the amount of “money” left in your bank, and you are simply trying to budget your meals and goodies to ensure that you do not overspend your calories. The idea is to eat sensible, not to restrict ridiculously.
When you’re eating the big main meals with your family, keep your meals to one plate size. This allows you to reduce overeating and still enjoy the meal with your family! You’re also forced to “spend” your food calories wisely, and have some space left for Chinese New Year Goodies.
Most goodies are high in sugar, butter, or flour, thus causing one piece of goodie, which is about 2 thumb size, to easily run up to 50-100 kcal. If you eat 10 of them, that would easily be 500-1000 kcal. One bak kwa coin is roughly 60 kcal, a pineapple tart 80 kcal, one love letter is 50 kcal, and a peanut cookie will usually be 50-70 kcal.
Thus, it would be smart to ration your goodie budget. For example, only allowing yourself to eat a maximum of 10 Chinese New Year goodies. This way, you can keep your calories in check and only eat what’s worth eating. I mean, why bother trying the snacks that don’t taste nice right? And if you don’t know if it’s worth your calories? Ask a relative to try, then tell you how it tastes! #Lifehack
Clever Replacements for Snacks
It would be counteractive if your home is filled with only pineapple tarts, love letters and bak kwa. If you have not stocked up for Chinese New Year, allow us to introduce you to some friendly CNY snacks such as IPS Protein Chips & Popcorn, Panco Foods Mushroom Jerky or Bonnie Goods Oatcakes.
Healthier snacks like these can be helpful for appetite regulation, and be a treat for all. Balance out the overly sweet treats with healthier alternatives such as the above, and you’ll be fine during the festive period feasting. Good luck!
James Yeo, Bsc, Dip.ISSN, CISSN, Pn2
Sports science trained sports nutritionist. Hitting your fitness goals one oreo at a time,
because you don't have to eat clean to look good nor win your competitor.