Undo the Thanksgiving Damage
If all of your good intentions went sideways yesterday and you really overdid it, don’t panic. You may be tempted to go to extreme measures, but a quick fix crash diet really isn’t necessary. Just five smart—and sane—adjustments can help loosen up those too-tight jeans again this weekend.
Get on an Eating Schedule ASAP
Even if you’re not hungry, eat breakfast within an hour of waking up and eat again every three to five hours. Steady meals will rev up your metabolism so you can maximize your daily calorie burn. Skipping meals only forces your body to shift into conservation mode and burn fewer calories, which means you’re more likely to hang on to any fat you’ve gained rather than letting go of it.
Choose healthy go-to breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner meals and repeat them throughout the weekend. Your body loves consistency, so after it’s been thrown out of whack, some repetition and regularity can be a good way to help restore balance. If you need some suggestions, check out the meals from this list, which include satisfying but slimming options such as cherry French toast, chicken and red quinoa lettuce wraps, apple walnut smoothie, and salmon cashew ginger stir-fry.
RELATED: For more ideas, check out this clean eating meal plan for simple recipes using whole foods.
Cut Back—But Don’t Cut Out—Carbs
Nixing carbohydrates completely can force your body to burn protein for fuel instead of using it to support and maintain your calorie-burning muscle. That means banishing them altogether isn’t the best way to get results. Instead, include a small serving of whole grain at each meal along with lean protein, healthy fat, and a generous portion of produce. These proportions will leave you feeling full and satisfied, regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels, and keep your hunger hormones under control. Each of the meals in the link above fits the bill.
Drink More H2O
Water does support optimal metabolism, and some research shows it may naturally curb your appetite. It can also help you feel better fast, because drinking more water flushes out excess sodium to help you quickly de-bloat. And it gets things moving in your digestive system to relieve constipation. Aim for two to two and a half liters (about eight to 10 cups) a day.
One of the reasons you feel so sluggish after a day of overeating is because your body has the ability to stockpile carbs, in a form called glycogen, within your muscle tissue. You can sock away a whopping 450 grams of this stuff, and for each gram you deposit, you store about three grams of water. When you’ve eaten more carbs than usual, the stores fill up, which can make you feel heavy. Your GI tract is also carrying more mass than usual, and it can take up to three days for waste to work its way through your system. For both of these reasons, one of the best things you can do to feel better quickly is to exercise. Physical activity can help you burn off the glycogen and stimulate your digestive system so your body can bounce back to its pre-Turkey Day state.
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.