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Eating Smart During the Holiday Season

By Eric Davis | In General, Nutrition Tips, Optimal Performance | on December 10, 2015

The holidays are upon us. The time of year for celebrating with loved ones; usually served with generous amounts of food, the occasional alcoholic beverage, and often involving extensive travelling. With so many temptations and so many opportunities to indulge during the holidays, it easy for even the most stringent athlete to struggle to stay focused on training and maintain a proper nutritional regime. And while it is true that one should resist the urge to binge regardless of the season, it is also true that one extra glass of wine with a holiday meal, or a slightly-larger than usual dollop of whip cream on grandma’s pumpkin pie during the holidays won’t derail your training. In fact, one might argue that showing a lack of restraint during the holidays may provide the necessary motivation to work that much harder to achieve one’s goals later on in the season.

In the following, Coach Dana and new Achieve PTC Coach, Ryan Moore, share some of their thoughts on how to maintain healthy nutritional habits and avoid temptation during the holidays.

  • What you put in is what you get out. It all begins here- if you take nothing else remember this simple truism.
  • All things in moderation. With so many opportunities to overindulge during the holidays, it is very difficult to avoid an opportunity for that little extra bit of turkey or that one glass of wine with dinner. At Achieve, our philosophy is the importance of living a balanced life. In other words, feel free to enjoy without guilt. Just remember- what you put in is what you get out.
  • Feed your body; don’t starve yourself. Although many athletes try to sell the idea of fasting prior to a big holiday meal, this is actually counter-intuitive. Instead of starving yourself, give your body nutrients consistently, moderating your caloric intake to match the amount the calories that you are burning. An exception to this is when you are in a base building/fat utilization period and deliberately running a small caloric deficit to help train your body to more efficiently burn fat.
  • Proper Hydration is Key. As always, be sure to properly hydrate. Proper hydration can be anywhere from 8-10 oz every hour. And no, alcohol does not count as it is in fact, a diuretic and is more likely to contribute to dehydration than the other way around.
  • Avoid simple carbs, or eat sparingly. A little science: Carbs, in the form of gluclose, are the most important source of energy for the endurance athlete. Simple carbs are great sources of energy for short efforts like sprint and interval training because they are easily consumed by the muscles. For longer rides, begin with complex carbs mixed with protein in the form of a bowl of fruit with yogurt and nuts.

Menu Suggestion: For your holiday dinner, substitute brown rice for white and sweet potatoes for white. Carrots, broccoli and  squash are also good options.

Dessert: Try a bowl of fruit with dark chocolate (which is high in antioxidants). Or Coach Dana’s Meringue Surprise.

See Also: Coach Dana’s Simple Squash Soup, or Salmon, Roasted Vegetables and Spinach Salad or Brown Rice & Chicken Goodness.


  • Alcohol. Enjoy, but do so sensibly. As Dana says, “one glass of wine will not prevent you from winning the Mt. Hamilton Road Race, but several will make for a very difficult day on the bike. “
  • Ride Your Bike. Don’t forget to get out on your bike, whether for a festive pre-Thanksgiving hammer fest, or an easy lap around the lake with your family.


Coach Ryan: “I always try to get in a good 2-3 hour z2 ride during the morning, usually alone to get some quiet time before family stuff with a light breakfast after. I figure that it’s inevitable that I’ll eat a ton on Thanksgiving and doing a couple hours on the bike helps me to enjoy all that delicious food and beer, and football later on in the day.”


Final Thoughts:

In conclusion, its easy to lose sight of the important things during the busy holiday season, your fitness being the least of them. Enjoy the time with your family. Eat well and guilt free.

Or, as Coach Ryan puts it, “If the holidays interfere a bit with your training you need to be very worried. -just kidding! It’s cool to let yourself enjoy family, food and friends, and when it comes down to it, Christmas and Thanksgiving are just two days out of the year. Make the most of it, It’ll probably help your motivation in the long run.

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