It is no secret that many who enjoy weekends of football during the fall and winter months add a few pounds of body weight. In fact, a recent study by Harris Interactive found that 25 percent of football fans have an average weight gain of 10 pounds during football season, AND 16 percent gained over 20 pounds during the same period. In fairness, the fall and winter months are our biggest holidays of the year, starting with Halloween (candy in the house), huge meals of Thanksgiving, and Christmas candies and feasts. Top it off with New Year's parties and days long of weekend football games, and it is no wonder that the average football fan gains 7-8 pounds more than the average American.
The Problem Most football loving Americans during the fall and winter months have fewer outdoor activities due to weather issues, shorter days, and those in nice weather (the South) are WAY into their football -- both with college teams and professional. Add in fried cooking, eight or more hours being sedentary watching football over the weekend, and feeding yourself with food and beer, and you can extrapolate why football fans tend to add more weight than the average American.
The Solution (It Depends -- It May Be Your Goal to Gain Weight)
Are you trying to gain weight? If you are mixing these additional calories with a heavy weight lifting program and working on building strength and size, the football season is perfect for you to put on added muscle mass. There is nothing wrong with a heavy lift cycle during this time of year and it works quit well actually. If you want to BE big, you have to EAT big (and lift big too.) I have been doing this type of training for twenty years and purposely adding 10 or more pounds of mass for strength gains. However, as I age, the weight comes on easier but the weight leaves in the spring running season MUCH SLOWER, making sprint running progression very painful.
Move More, Eat Less
Quite simply, the amount of calories coming in during football season are way more than you are burning. YOU WILL gain weight when this happens. Now, it depends on your goals. Are you trying to lose weight or to not gain weight? If so, then you need to exercise more during the week and even the weekend and / or reduce your food intake during the football weekend.
If you are not trying to gain weight and you are noticing your increased size every year after the Super Bowl, and you have not lost it during the "off-season," you may want to alter your eating and exercise habits during the season.
Here are some tips: 1 – Add Exercise during commercials or bring a bike / treadmill into the TV room. Both methods can help you balance out any additional caloric intake if you are not into altering the amount of food you eat. Typically, there are 20-22 minutes of commercials in an hour-long television show. Pushups, crunches, walk up and down the stairs to your man cave, or simply stand up / sit down (squat) during the entire commercial break. You can actually get a few hours of activity if you just move more during the commercials. 2 – Go NO Carb or NO Fried – If you are going to a party and you want to reduce your calories as you are starting to not fit into your pants you purchased at the beginning of the season, try to not eat carbohydrates like chips, cookies, pastries, pasta, and avoid fried food too – even wings. Trim the skin off the wings at least and go light on the sauces. Find healthier carbs like fruits and vegetables. 3 – Avoid Alcohol – I hate to say it, but a day of football can yield hundreds and even 1000+ of calories of beer and alcoholic drinks. If you find yourself drinking more than a six pack of beer / drinks, that is too much and not moderation. It will take you at least an hour of walking on a treadmill to burn two beers off (typically). (Average calorie burn per hour of walking is 300 calories.) 4 – Drink Water – When in doubt, add water. Ice water with fruit, unsweet tea, or other flavorings are fine additions to a game. Drinking more will get you up and moving too as you will have to visit the restroom a few times an hour. While you are up, do some additional exercises. 5 – Brush Your Teeth – Brush your teeth at half time. After brushing your teeth, at least for a while, foods and drinks will not taste as good and your desire for them will decrease. 6 – Go Paleo – This is not my favorite option, but it does work for some. During the football party, try to go all natural. Eat lean meats, fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts, and stay away from the empty calories of alcohol and sugar. 7 – Beer in Moderation - You can drink beer, but follow it with an equal amount of water. What is moderation? Depends really. In my 20's moderation was 5-6 drinks. In my 30's maybe 2-3 drinks during a game. Now, I may drink 2-3 drinks a month. But consider this -- 5-6 beers is about the same amount of calories as a Big Mac, Fries, and a soda. 8 – Discipline – If you really want to lose weight, it takes discipline and persistence. Make a goal for yourself and limit the amount of food you eat in a day. Eat a big salad with lean meat before going to the game and tell yourself NO to snacks. When in doubt, TALK to yourself, do not LISTEN to yourself. Tell yourself you are breaking the beer and wings habit during football games and replacing them with tea and broiled chicken or steak strips.
Set a Goal - Just Pick One or Two - Pick a few of the options above and see if you can curb your calories coming in. A weight gain of 10 pounds or more is going to kill you early – especially if you continue you add 10 pounds every year, year after year. If your goal is to lose weight or even NOT GAIN WEIGHT during the football season, you are TWO HABITS away from success: One habit you must start and one habit you must break. You can do this.