Agghhhh help! I've put on 10lbs over Christmas! How am I going to lose all this fat?!?
First. Relax. You enjoyed yourself and put on some weight. Its ok.
Second, you definitely haven’t put on 10 lbs of fat in the 2 weeks of Christmas and new year.
Third, let me tell you what’s going on with your scales and body, and how you're not that far from where you were before the holidays.
So, you’ve put on some weight over Christmas. Let's use 10lbs as an example and you can apply it to your own circumstances.
Now for some numbers. 1lb of fat is gained by eating a 3500 Kcal surplus. To gain 10lbs over the Christmas period, you will have had to overeaten by 35000 Kcal. This is the same as 443 Lint chocolate balls or 250 roast potatoes. I’m guessing you didn’t manage that?
So if it’s not fat, why have the scales gone up so much?
Well the foods we tend to indulge in over Christmas, like the potatoes and chocolate, are very high in Carbohydrates. When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down and stores them as glycogen to use as energy. But.... For every molecule of glycogen, your body stores 3 molecules of water with it.
What does this mean? Well, it means that if you've eaten large amounts of carbohydrates, you will be storing those, plus a lot more water with them. So, although you may be in a calorie surplus and be putting on some fat, you will also be carrying a lot of water weight (not fat) which shows on the scales. The scales cannot differentiate between fat and non-fat weight gain, so just because you weigh more, it doesn't necessarily mean it's fat.
So how do I get back to my weight before?
Here is the easy part. Go back to eating what you were eating before and start moving and exercising again. After a week or two, you will start to burn of your stored carbohydrates, and with it, your water weight will come off. Having said this, if you were in a surplus over Christmas, you will have put on some fat, meaning that you will have to go into a deficit to lose this fat.
You just won't have as much fat to lose as you think!
Just to clarify, an increase in carbohydrates is just one of a large number of possible mechanisms for changes in both body weight and water retention. Body weight will often fluctuate independently of fat gain or loss.