A holiday season is a high risk time for holiday weight-gain. Although studies have shown that people on the average gain a pound or two, those who are overweight gain some five pounds (2.5 kg).
Beyond overeating in parties, the season is also an extended period for alcohol and snacking.
Many health-oriented groups are offering last-minute advice on how to avoid holiday weight gain.
Victor Vesuna, General Nutrition Center's medical director and consultant for preventive nutrition and complementary medicine, suggests the various supplements to suit the lifestyle.
Better known as fat burners, thermogenics are caffeine-based supplements that energize the body heat, by raising the body temperature to burn fat faster.
"They speed the metabolic process and are recommended for people with no cardiovascular complications, hypertension or diabetes," says Vesuna.
Green tea and guarana are the most popular. Guarana comes from a South American vine, which contains thrice more caffeine than coffee beans and boosts stamina and endurance.
Guarana extract helps decrease the appetite while increasing the metabolism. It helps reduce excess fats and lipids, as an energy source for the body cells and tissues.
Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an anti-oxidant that prevents cancer and heart disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that it could help dieters.
A study at the University of Geneva showed that men who were given a caffeine and green tea extract expended more calories than those given only caffeine.
Natural appetite suppressants
Apple cider vinegar (ACV)-it is believed that the pectin, the fiber in the apples, assimilates the water. When the ACV is taken before a meal, it gives one the feeling of fullness.
The acetic acid in the ACV helps disperse the iron in the foods consumed and helps to improve blood circulation. With better iron absorption, the body increases the use of oxygen and burns more energy.
Gymnema sylvestre is an Asian plant that suppresses sugar cravings and cures diabetes. It contains acids that inhibit the receptors in the tongue.
Spirulina from green algae not only reduces appetite but also contains B complex, vitamins and amino acids to prevent nutritional deficiency.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) boosts metabolism and decreases abdominal fat. It also builds muscle growth while burning fat. "You don't get palpitations," adds Vesuna.
Ultimately, the lifestyle is more important. "We recommend diet and exercises recommended by the medical community," he adds.
He follows the guidelines set by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute which recommends the Asian Pyramid diet.
It emphasizes a wide base of carbohydrates-rice, rice products, noodles, breads and grains, preferably whole grain and minimally processed foods. It is complemented by whole foods-fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and seeds.
The upper tiers consist of small amounts of vegetable oils, fish or dairy. Eggs and poultry are weekly options while meat is taken monthly.
Exercise is also given priority. There are other medically acceptable diets such as the Mediterranean diet, the Harvard Medical Diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Eating Plan.
As a supplement, protein shakes add variety to the diet and even act as meal replacement.
"The aim during the holiday is to maintain the present weight and not to add a single pound," says Vesuna.
"Concentrate on high fiber foods, avoid saturated fats and socialize instead of eating. Change is one of the most important principles in fitness. It may be difficult at first but the rewards are tremendous."