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The Meta Effect — 6 Uber-Easy Steps To Stay Lean & Healthy This Holiday Season

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Winter is coming.

For most bodies, winter is like an atomic bomb. It hits, sweeps over the country, and immediately, all of your progress and hard work are seemingly wiped out. Between holiday stress, inflated work hours, dessert that’s way-too-convenient, inescapable darkness, and the impending polar vortex, it’s beyond easy to backslide into a state of hibernation. We’re lethargic as a whole, and it directly leads to a collective gain in body fat.1

Hey, you’ve got a sweater to keep your body concealed until summer, right?

Be proactive and avoid the seasonal cycle of weight gain (what I call Adipose). To help combat the holiday onslaught, we’ve rolled out 6 uber-easy steps that can help you eat healthier, live leaner, and ultimately keep your progress moving in the right direction. Add ’em all up and you’ll survive the season of gluttony without gaining an inch.

You might even get to burn your resolution on something other than weight loss. Imagine that.


6 Uber-Easy Steps To Stay Lean & Healthy This Holiday Season 

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1. Hit 10K (or 30)

Far and away, the #1 cause of holiday weight gain and other health issues is an obnoxious level of inactivity. When the weather gets crappy and brutally cold, you’re forced indoors and confined to motor transportation. You become languid and start to hibernate. The Snuggie-Ugg combo and dinner on the couch starts to look like the most glorious thing ever.

DO NOT let it happen.

The American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps per day for general health (that’s roughly 5 miles). Studies back that number up, and there’s evidence to suggest we might even need 11-12K for weight control. Track your movement for free with an app like Argus — I’ll guarantee that your movement number will absolutely plummet as the weather gets worst. And that is where most weight gain stems from.234567

Your move: While it might not be practical to walk 10,000 steps every day, shoot for at least 30 minutes of activity. Do one of our WOTMs. Burn through an in-home ab or bodyweight workout. Do bikram yoga. Sweat out an intense HIIT session on the treadmill. Shovel snow (it’s an amazing cardio + strength training workout, try it).

Whatever gets you moving, just find a way to exercise consistently. And get it in early in the day — you’re much more likely to be motivated when it’s still light out.


2. Overdose on Protein

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When you’re stuck inside and around food all day, nonstop snacking becomes the norm. It also becomes your go-to entertainment when you’re bored. Combat hunger before it piles on with a steady infusion of protein.

Protein is metabolically active, thermogenic—meaning it burns off a high fraction of its own calories during digestion—helps fuel new muscle growth, and keeps appetite steady. But most importantly, it’ll displace empty carbs and other food that’s calorically dense and completely devoid of nutrients.

Your move: Shoot to make protein 30-40% of your total caloric intake. Chug a shake post-workout, fry up eggs for breakfast, make a fruit-based protein smoothie as a snack, eat a Quest Bar, or down a Greek yogurt. And if you’re vegan, beans, quinoa, nuts, green leafy veggies, and plant-based protein powder are all solid sources of protein.

Use our big list of protein sources and protein-packed small meal ideas if you’re looking for easy ways to stuff more into your diet.


3. Green Up Your Smoothies and/or Eggs

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Spinach is one of most versatile superfoods on earth. Use it excessively. It’s a quick, uber-easy, and extremely painless way to amp up your diet with fiber, iron, folate, calcium, magnesium, vitamins A/B/C/K, flavonoids and carotenoids (antioxidants).89

Your move: throw a handful of spinach in your fruit smoothies and/or egg dishes. Arugula works really well for eggs, too (but definitely not in a smoothie). I promise, you won’t even know it’s there — plus, your food will look colorful, pristine, and Instagram-ready. Use one of these recipes for inspiration.


4. De-Sugar

We get it, it’s hard to avoid when you’re constantly bombarded with excessive pie, apple cider, applesauce, gingerbread cookies, ice cream, fruity cocktails, and other delicious holiday bombs. But do your best to cut back and limit sugar intake.

It has no nutritional value and an overdose will directly trigger your body to store excess body fat, especially when you’re less active. Try to knock out artificial sweeteners, too. And if you’re drinking as a way to make it through your next holiday get together, sugary cocktails can be a stealthy death trap. Follow our lean drinking rules to keep it svelte.


5. Get Some D

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Roughly 75% of Americans are vitamin D deficient, and we’re not getting anywhere close to enough. Low levels of vitamin D are directly responsible for poor bone density, weak teeth and bones, and ultimately osteomalacia; and they’ve been connected to depression, heart disease, and muscle weakness.10

And that problem is about to get worse. Because almost all of our vitamin D (typically 80-100%) is synthesized from sun exposure—not from the diet—winter exacerbates a deficiency that’s already extremely common. For most people with office jobs, you’re perpetually trapped in a dark, indoor, arctic prison, with no light in sight. That’s not just miserable, but bad for your health, too.

Your move: unless you’re eating A LOT of oysters, oily fish, dairy, eggs, or OJ, shield yourself and take a vitamin D supplement. It’s dirt cheap and runs about $.03/day.


6. Supercharge Your Digestion

When you’re sedentary and your diet starts to collapse—combined with an uptick in sugar and LQ carbs—it’s easy to get backed up and cultivate a rotting digestive tract. Prioritize your gut. Otherwise, it can lead to weight gain, poor nutrient absorption, depression, and the development of inflammatory diseases. No bueno.

Your move: Chug water all day long, take a probiotic supplement in the AM, and gun for at least 45g of fiber. Combined, it’s the ultimate trifecta to help keep your insides clean, your body “regular,” and your digestive system functioning at a high level.

  • Fiber — colorful veggies, fruit, nuts, beans, flax, chia, quinoa, oatmeal, and sprouted wheat bread (e.g. Ezekiel) are your best bets for fiber. And if you’re lacking, Metamucil and Meta Health Bars are a quick-and-easy way to amp up fiber content (and drink more water in the process).
  • Probiotics — Try to have one Greek yogurt per day, either for breakfast or as a snack (pro tip: mix in the ground flax). It’s a great source of healthy probiotics and protein, a la #2. We also highly recommend taking a daily probiotic supplement.
  • Water — keep a large water bottle at your desk. Fill it up and gulp it down multiple times every day. If you’re constantly forgetting, set a reminder in your phone to go off every hour or so.


What are some of your uber-simple, go-to LEAN moves? Get involved — visit Meta Wellness’ Facebook page and answer their simple question: “What’s One Small Way You Stay Healthy During the Holidays?”

Anyone that participates is entered for a chance to win a trip to the Big Apple, tickets to a live talk show, a $950 gift card, a workout with a celebrity trainer and some Meta goodies. To be eligible, just tag @MetaWellness1 and use #MetaEffectSweeps in your answer.11

The Sweeps is open until 12/21/14.


Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
Follow Lean It UP on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for real-time fitness/nutrition tips, advice, info and updates.

  1. Holly R Hull, Casey N Hester, and David A Fields. The effect of the holiday season on body weight and composition in college students. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2006; 3: 44. Published online Dec 28, 2006. []
  2. The American Heart Association — 10,000 Steps []
  3. Fitbit — The Magic of 10,000 Steps []
  4. FoxNews — 10,000 Steps a Day is Good for You []
  5. Science Daily — For Weight Control You Will Need To Walk More Than 10,000 Steps A Day []
  6. — 10,000 Steps []
  7. Tudor-Locke C, Bassett DR Jr. How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health. Sports Med. 2004;34(1):1-8. []
  8. WHFoods — Spinach []
  9. NutritionData — Spinach []
  10. Lean It UP — What’s Up With Vitamin D? The Ultimate Vitamin D Buyer’s Guide, 24 Top Products Uncapped []
  11. *NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. The Meta Effect Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C. who are 18 years of age or older as of the last day of the month prior to date of entry. Starts 10/15/14 and ends 12/21/14 by 11:59 pm EST. Winners will be contacted via Facebook Direct Message. Limit one entry per day. By commenting on/answering the Sweepstakes post, you are agreeing to the Official Rules. Sponsored by The Procter & Gamble Distributing LLC. For Official Rules, visit []
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