Christmas: Food, Training, Alcohol – what to do before, during and after.

Just two more days until the big day!

Christmas is such a lovely time of the year. People travel within the country or fly overseas to spend time with their loved ones; others fly in from abroad to visit family and friends. However, when it comes to food and drink, Christmas has a big problem: there’s just too much of everything. This is where we tend to trip up since the majority of dishes are only consumed once w year, it’s like going to a new all-you-can-eat restaurant: you’re going to want to try a bit of everything.

Over the last two weeks I have been asked for healthy eating tips for the festive period. Without telling you exactly what to eat, I will give you a few handy pointers on how to make better food choices over the next few days.

Most importantly, I would like to say please do not stress yourself out too much about how many calories you’re going to be consuming. We don’t want it to take the joy out of Christmas. Enjoy the time with your family and friends and make the most of it.

However, here are a few tried and tested methods.

My advice for clients before big dinners or events is to prepare by leaving “calories in the bank”. This means increasing the intake of healthy, highly nutritious food beforehand to be able to enjoy the time off without overly worrying about calories and the ratio of macros. By consuming highly satiating, low calorie foods, which provide quality nutrients, you can improve your digestion. Plus, should you have time for a workout or two beforehand, you will also boost your metabolism and increase your body’s ability to process the energy consumed.

Here’s what to do today and tomorrow:


In the run up to Christmas Dinner, eat an abundance of green vegetables and lean protein. Per meal, I recommend at least 2 servings (160g) of vegetables and 125g of lean protein such as chicken or turkey or about 200g of white fish or seafood such as prawns, scallops, mussels etc. Out of green vegetables I recommend broccoli, asparagus, all types of green beans, courgette and cauliflower (although not green, it acts like a green vegetable when it comes to satiety and fat loss) and of course Brussels sprouts are ideal on Christmas Day. If you like kale and spinach, aim for up to 200-300g in the same meal. On top of that, add some rainbow coloured vegetables for a variety of vitamins and minerals.


I highly recommend at least one whole body resistance training session: one exercise per muscle group with 2 sets of 12-15 repetitions each. This workout could include lunges, squats, press-ups, tricep dips, bent-over or seated rows, shoulder press and some abdominal work followed by a lovely stretch. Should you have time for two sessions, do upper body and core today and leave lower body training for tomorrow.

Either option will increase your body’s insulin sensitivity and uptake of glycogen (carbohydrates). This way you’ll ensure the energy consumed on Christmas Day goes to good use.

On Christmas Day:


Refer to my previous blog post or YouTube/IGTV video on alcohol and all facts on its consumption.


First and foremost, enjoy yourself and remember that no food is inherently bad or good. The problem is the quantity, so go by “everything in moderation”. If you are a healthy eater who trains regularly throughout the year then a single meal will not tip the scales. It’s been scientifically proven that the amount of body fat stored from a single overindulgent meal is negligible and following a phase of dieting and training can actually boost your weight loss and improve performance in the gym the next day. Still, I would encourage you to listen to your body and not to force yourself to eat more should you feel stuffed up to the eyebrows. 🙂


Maybe grab a smaller relative and do a couple of squats if that makes you feel better. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.

From Boxing Day onwards:


Reverse dieting – repeat what you did before Christmas Day. Lots of greens, lean protein and an increased water intake. Do not restrict your food intake to “balance out” the calories – our bodies don’t work like that. If you feel a bit heavy, reduce your starchy carbohydrate intake for a couple of days or until you start to feel lighter again. Allow yourself to feel hungry before eating and savour your meals. Do not weigh yourself as it’s pointless. The scales will simply reflect the total of your bodyweight plus gross weight of all foods and drinks consumed. It’s helpful to remember that your body will store 3 grams of water per every gram of carbohydrate consumed, which can lead to bloating and water retention. If you must, please allow yourself 2-4 days before weighing. If you had been following a calorie controlled diet beforehand, you’ll still stand a good chance at having lost some weight by your next weigh in.


Do not punish yourself with exercise. However, to improve both mental and physical wellbeing, you have two options. Either opt for a light cardio session (cycling, running, swimming) or go to the sauna to sweat out the toxins from alcohol. Or do another whole body session to utilise the excess energy from carbs and fats. As a bonus you will feel a lot stronger, so I do encourage you to put that to good use.

I hope this handy little guide will have given you some peace of mind before the festivities and you feel better prepared.

Once more, please don’t forget to have a great time!

Merry Christmas!

Rahel x

Re-feeds vs. cheat meals – what’s the difference?

Do you know the difference between a refeed and a cheat meal?

The answer is: mentality.

I’m certain all of you have heard of cheat meals. I get asked often whether I allow my clients to eat “cheat meals” or whether someone should incorporate “cheat meals” into their diets. My immediate response: forget the word pair to begin with!

Cheat meals are a term used amongst bodybuilders who, during or after a bland and boring diet (because they have no imagination) decide to destroy 3 pizzas, a family size milkshake and a tower of brownies in one go. Worse yet, they might dedicate a whole day to overeating. They won’t care of the 10000 excess calories consumed since “broscience” encourages this because – gains. For someone on a fat loss plan this could set you back for weeks.

Athletes have “re-feeds”. These meals are carefully planned and consumed as and when a boost in calories/macros/energy/performance is needed. The word “re-feed” is empowering as opposed to “cheat meal”, which suggests you’re doing something bad. Do not mentally sabotage your attempts to improve your diet because the only person you’ll be cheating is yourself.


The best way to approach a re-feed is to prepare the food yourself so you know what goes in. When dining out, choose dishes with fewer ingredients (for example avoid adding all the bells and whistles to a burger and don’t get starters and sides). If you’re craving a pizza, opt for original thin sourdough pizzas and choose protein rich toppings plus add vegetables and no extra cheese! Then split the pizza with a friend and don’t take any leftovers home. Once you’re done with the meal, it’s back to work.



You can also bake something, like a lovely banana bread when you feel like something sweet; avoid store bought biscuits, cakes and pastries that are unnecessarily high in sugar and fat and full of additives, probably even food dyes and whatnot. I highly recommend my friend Yasmine’s banana bread recipe – you’ll find it on her profile in highlights. She’s used all natural ingredients, which are easy for your body to digest, provide a balanced glycaemic load and avoid crashes in energy.
A re-feed on your diet doesn’t even have to be a high carb meal. It could simply be any dish or food item that you usually try to avoid or don’t eat that much of. Say, high calorie healthy foods like avocados and nuts, which you might avoid to not rack up calories by accident. Or, maybe you would like to just sit down in front of the tv with a massive bowl of berries because that’s what you feel like.

Whatever the choice, make sure your decision is conscious and empowering. On the day of the refeed, for someone on a fat loss diet, I would recommend capping their food intake at maintenance calories (~500-600kcal extra) and for someone building muscle and already on maintenance calories, you could even go as far as an extra 500-1000kcal. After the meal, pay attention to how you feel immediately after/the next morning/two days after. If you feel bloated the same evening or next morning, you might have consumed the wrong type of food. If you feel leaner the next day, congratulations, your body needed all the fuel! Should you still feel uncomfortable two days after your re-feed then I’m afraid you’ve seriously overdone it.

If you have any questions about this or would like some more tips, leave a comment!