How nutrition pros survive the holidays

Enjoy indulging (even more) with eight expert-tested tricks.

The holidays can present something of a conundrum for the hard-working athlete: Fitness devotees want to be able to relax and celebrate, but don't want to set themselves too far back when a new training year is days away.

And according to experts, these concerns have merit when the holiday season is lengthy. “We often think in 24 hour periods of eating, but if you have a huge meal and eat an excess of calories on a certain day like Christmas, you’re not going to wake up the next day overweight,” says Ryan Andrews, R.D., a fitness and nutrition coach with Precision Nutrition. “However, if you do this continually over a month or more—some people start with Thanksgiving and end with New Years—well, that can add up to weight gain.”

Who better to ask about how to stay on track (and still have fun) than pros who make a living helping clients stay lean? Here, 10 tricks they rely on to survive the season:

prioritize protein and veggies at breakfast.

"I always do this to make sure I’m not absolutely ravenous. A lot of people don’t eat before the big meal and then go overboard thinking they can have 4 pieces of pie instead of one."

- Brian St. Pierre, R.D. a fitness and nutrition coach with Precision Nutrition

halve your sugar content, and add some cinnamon.

"You’ll be surprised to see how good—and sweet—desserts still taste when you cut sugar by a 1/4 to a 1/2. Another trick is to add cinnamon. It enhances the sweet flavor and it improves sugar metabolism."

- Jeffrey Morrison, M.D., Equinox Health Advisory Board member, founder of the Morrison Center in NYC

alternate alcohol drinks with water and lime.

"The vitamin A in the lime will help your liver process the alcohol more efficiently."

- Haylie Pomroy, nutrionist and founder of The Fast Metabolism Diet

go vegan with some of your dishes.

"Then the choices on the table won’t all be full of creams, cheeses, and butters, plus it’s hard to overeat plant-based foods because they’re filling. Last year I took a cooking class and learned to make quinoa-stuffed acorn squash with crispy sage and a balsamic glaze—now it’s one of our holiday favorites."

- Ryan Andrews

for dessert, choose an option with fat and sugar, rather than one with just sugar.

"The fat actually slows the rate of delivery of sugar into the bloodstream. Sugar spikes are what get us into trouble because the body naturally shuttles it out of the bloodstream and into the fat cells."

- Haylie Pomroy

mix a coconut-based egg nog.

"Trade the heavy cream for 1 part coconut cream and 1 part coconut milk. Coconut is full of medium chain triglyercides, a type of fat that’s more easily burned than others."

- Jeffrey Morrison

make pumpkin pie with almond milk and ground flax.

"Sub an equal amount of almond milk for evaporated milk and use an egg replacer. For each egg called for, just mix 1 tablespoon ground flax with 3 tablespoons warm water, then let it sit for 15 minutes. It acts as both a binder and an egg substitute."

- Ryan Andrews

detox the day after a big holiday meal by sipping 1-3 cups of bieler broth

"It contains adrenal-healing vegetables like parsley that help your liver process the toxins from alcohol as well as excess sugar so that it can be burned as fuel. The ingredients also aid in the production of bile salts, which help break down excess fats."

-Haylie Pomroy
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