The 5-2 Plan: Enjoy the Holidays Without Gaining Weight

Eat Right During the Holidays from The FIRM’s nutrition expert

You can enjoy the holiday festivities while avoiding holiday weight gain. Sound impossible? Well, it won’t be if you follow my 5-2 nutrition plan — five days of clean eating with two days of (healthy) indulging.  

This is not a weight-loss plan, but rather a weight-maintenance approach. If you’re determined to stay on your weight-loss program through the holidays, keep in mind that moderation might just be the key to your success. Otherwise, you may feel deprived and fall off the wagon completely. And that’s when the scale can become a scary prospect on January 1. 
How does it work?
The 5-2 nutrition plan is a strategy that I came up with for my clients who wanted to have some holiday fun without gaining back the weight that they fought so hard to lose. Say you’re hosting a holiday party on Friday. You can use that as one of your indulgent days and enjoy the holiday meal: appetizers, main course and dessert. But note that an indulgent day isn’t a 24-hour pass to eat all day long — and you’ll want to watch the sweets. I find sugar to be highly addictive, and eating it will make it hard to stop. Moderation is key. 
On Saturday, plan for a healthy day of clean meals and exercise. I find that you will feel better and will be more likely to succeed if the indulgent days are spaced out throughout the week.
Where does alcohol fit in?
I find that alcohol is a huge reason why people give into all of the temptation surrounding the holiday season, and a major contributor to holiday weight gain. Limit your alcohol to the indulgent days and steer clear of alcohol on your five clean days. Then toast yourself for a job well done on your indulgent days!
Examples of indulgent and clean days
An indulgent day:
Let’s say this is a day that you have a holiday dinner party. Here’s how I would arrange the day:
  • Whole-wheat English muffin toasted and topped with 1 tbsp almond butter and 1 navel orange on the side
  • 1 string cheese with 5 sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup of black bean soup topped with 2 tbsp grated cheddar cheese and a tossed salad dressed with 1 tsp olive oil and vinegar
  • 15 almonds and red pepper slices
Dinner Party
  • Cocktails and appetizers: 2 glasses of wine or champagne; 4 crackers with cheese, 2 shrimp cocktail and 6 chips with dip
  • Dinner: Caesar salad, fresh dinner roll with butter, slice of prime rib, scoop of mashed potatoes, scoop of stuffing, string beans and ¼ cup gravy
  • Dessert: 1 slice of apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream
Nutrition information:
2950 calories
100 grams protein
237 grams carbohydrate
160 grams fat
35 grams fiber
66 grams sugar
4069 mg sodium
A clean day:
When planning the clean day after the holiday dinner party, keep these tips in mind:
  • Start the day with a high-protein meal. It gets your sugar cravings under control, which are apt to be higher after an evening of indulging.
  • Drink lots of water all day long.
  • Keep the sugar out of the picture.
  • Include ample fat (healthy fat, of course) to keep you satiated and less likely to fall victim to temptation.
  • Egg-white omelet with 3 egg whites, 1 ounce reduced-fat cheese and ½ cup steamed broccoli with 1 slice of whole wheat bread
  • Celery stalk filled with 1 tbsp all-natural almond butter served with a small banana
  • Large salad composed of chopped romaine lettuce leaves, 4 ounces boneless grilled chicken, ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese and 8 cherry tomatoes served with ½ of a whole wheat pita
  • 3 ounces of sliced turkey breast wrapped around cucumber and red pepper spears
  • 5-ounce salmon fillet baked and topped with lemon and dill served with steamed spinach, ½ cup brown rice, and a tossed cucumber and tomato salad dressed with red wine vinegar and 2 tsp olive oil
Nutrition information:
1459 calories
132 grams protein
128 grams carbohydrate
51 grams fat
24 grams fiber
18 grams sugar
2408 mg sodium
Make exercise a priority
During the holiday season, when you are most likely going to consume more calories than usual, keeping your exercise routine consistent is more important than ever. Working out will help burn additional calories, preventing any additional inches from creeping onto your mid-section. I know that our hectic lives get even crazier during the holidays, but exercise will boost your energy and help reduce stress, making it easier to stay “on the wagon.”
Let’s do it together!
Please share your holiday tales with us, including your indulgences and your recovery days. I assure you, this is the way to practice healthy moderation this holiday season and avoid holiday weight gain!
Work out with The FIRM on!

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12 Ways to Just Say "No" to Holiday Weight Gain


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