There is no greater test period than the holiday season when it comes to sticking to a paleo diet for athletes. The temptation is everywhere, from honey roasted nuts, crisps, cake, and chocolate, to fizzy drinks, alcohol and huge roasted dinners. Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween periods can be hugely daunting, especially when family and friends are gorging themselves around you.
Fortunately, it just takes a little time, effort and planning to find appropriate alternatives when adhering to a Paleo diet.
Here are 5 tips on how to survive the holidays with a paleo diet for athletes.
1) Choose your drinks carefully
Some holiday drinks are an obvious no-no when it comes to Paleo. Steer clear of carbonated drinks and sodas as well as strong alcohol. Your liver can’t burn fat as efficiently when it’s busy dealing with alcohol, so try mixing a little spirit with soda water, ice, and a dash of lemon juice.
Avoid grain-based alcohol such as whiskey, beer, and cider. Instead, stick to fruit-based drinks such as dry wine. Replace rich, sweet wine with Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc, but above all the trick is to drink in moderation. You’re more than welcome to the glass to celebrate now and then, but any more than that and your body will be diverting its attention away from fat-burning.
2) Avoid refined sugar
Halloween and candy may go hand in hand but resist the temptation to indulge. Avoid the refined sugars in chocolate and sweets and instead, stick to healthy snacks. Use mixed seeds, nuts and fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth, and all your hard work will not be wasted.
When cooking, turn your attention away from vegetable oil and towards healthier alternatives like olive oil and coconut oil. It might be a tad more expensive at first, but it certainly won’t break the bank and it will do you wonders more than fatty vegetable oil in the long run. When frying and roasting all oil should be substituted with the healthier alternative. And speaking of roasting….
4) Steam, don’t roast
Good old fashioned roast potatoes are a staple of Christmas dinner. Along with carrots, parsnips, and a host of other treats, roasting is the first port of call when it comes to traditional holiday dinners. For a better Paleo dinner, why not try other forms of cooking?
Boiling vegetables will retain a lot more of the goodness than roasting, and steaming is better yet. It will save time and calories, and you can pick up a steamer from your local supermarket or kitchenware shop for a very affordable price if you don’t already have one.
5) Alternative desserts
Christmas puddings, cakes, biscuits, pastries and mince pies are rolled out by the dozen over the holiday period and are the leading cause of people hitting the gym in the New Year. Get a head start by cooking up some Paleo-friendly puddings. Replace flour with gluten-free high protein almond flour or coconut flour to bake cookies, and use coconut flour and dried vegetables in a Christmas pudding. Add a couple of scoops of whey protein powder for that extra kick and you’re good to go!