Hi, in case you don’t know I have been a Personal Trainer here in Dubai for over 4 years. I know how hard it can be to avoid the stresses and temptations the lifestyle here can bring. So, to help, I have written the following guide on doing a Dubai brunch without piling on the weight as a consequence. Thank you for reading and I hope you find it helpful.
I have a friend called Jenny. Like many other expats, Jenny moved to Dubai 1 year ago after finding a job here.
The work can be hard and stressful with long hours and impossible deadlines, but overall, she enjoys it and has made a few friends. After a tiring week, Jenny definitely looks forward to the weekends.
Unwanted Weight Gain
There is only one problem. She is putting on weight. Jenny had heard of the Dubai stone before she moved here but didn’t think it would affect her.
Jenny has always been quite slim. She eats healthy during the week, avoiding junk food and exercises as much as her schedule allows.
Like many people in Dubai Jenny works hard and likes to enjoy herself at the end of a working week. After all, she deserves it, and despite what many believe, living in Dubai is not all beaches and fast cars.
One of most popular ways her and her friends let their hair down is to go to one of Dubai’s famous brunches.
What Is Brunch?
If you have never experienced one of Dubai’s all you can eat and drink sessions, also known as Brunch, you are missing out. They come in all shapes and sizes from the more casual affairs where you get choice of one meal and a few free drinks right up to the more extravagant events at many of the luxury hotels around the city. This can involve choosing from Michelin star food from a number of rooms, with it all beautifully laid out to tempt you. Add on endless free flowing champagne and your choice of many more grape and hop beverages and you can see that the calories will start to pile up.
Jenny loves these days out with friends and doesn’t want to lose the social life that she has worked so hard to build. Unfortunately, her weekend brunches and next day comfort foods (usually a McDonalds at 1pm, oh the shame) are undoing her discipline during the week.
Can One Day Do Much Damage?
In order to get a rough calorie estimate on what we consume when attending brunch, we can look at the estimates for what an average person consumes on occasions such as Christmas Day. It is estimated that the average person consumes a whopping 6000kcal on that one day. If anything is close to the feast we have over the festive period it is Brunch. Of course, not everyone will consume that high a number of calories but it goes to show that it can be very indulgent.
Some of Jenny’s favourite dresses don’t fit anymore and she is losing that naturally slim figure that she always took for granted.
This is affecting her confidence and starting to spoil what would be otherwise an exciting time in her life.
So, what can she do? She does not want to become a recluse and has not got the time to exercise any more than she already does.
Fortunately, there is a way that Jenny can do Brunch and still maintain her desired physique and I will give you a step-by-step plan now.
Do Brunch And Still Look Great
It starts the day before the social gathering. As mentioned before, the calories consumed can be huge at Brunch so we need to counter that somehow. I will not tell you to go to Brunch, drink only water and eat salad. This advice may work but it will also spoil your fun and stop you from letting your hair down. Screw that…
We want a calorie deficit going into our day of indulgence and there are a few ways of doing this. One of the best ways to do this is by eating a protein sparing modified fast (PSMF) the day before.
What Is A Protein Sparing Modified Fast?
It is basically eating enough protein to maintain your lean mass but consuming the bare minimum number of calories.
On average, it works out around 900-1200 kcal over the whole day.
The massive calorie deficit is of course great for burning fat and it also allows you to put those extra calories into our weekend Brunch.
If you can’t do that the day before brunch, do it the day before that or any day the week before. You can even do it more than once, which I will go into later.
How Do You Set It Up?
If you are not counting calories you have to be strict with food choices.
First, choose a source of lean protein. The best are chicken breast, turkey breast, tuna and tenderloin steak (if you’re really fancy). Have a normal fist size portion.
Then choose from any non-starchy vegetables. So, broccoli, lettuce, spinach and cucumber are all good. Have a small bowl full.
Have this for three to four meals depending on your regular meal schedule.
If you are counting your calories set it up like so- take your bodyweight in kilos and multiply it by 1.8. This is the amount of protein you should consume in grams. Half that number and that is the number of carbohydrates you should consume in grams. Half the number you got for carbohydrates and that is the number of fat grams you should consume. You can then split this over 3-4 meals.
Below is sample meal with calories included to help you out:
This is for a person weighing 80kg eating 4 meals
Chicken breast-70g Kcal-240
Cheddar cheese-25g Protein-29g
Tomato-120g (1 medium) Carbs- 14g
Honeydew Melon-100g Fat- 8g
Tinned tuna in water (1 tin)-135g Kcal-240
Olives, green-40g Protein-28g
Bell pepper-75g Carbs- 16g
Cucumber-100g Fat- 8g
Salmon fillet-135g Kcal-240
Tenderloin Steak-200g Kcal-520
Broccoli-100g Carbs- 35g
Cauliflower-100g Fat- 15g
Dark chocolate 70% or above-10g
Depending on how big a calorie deficit you wish to create (or make up for) you can do a PSMF a couple of days leading up to your indulgent weekend and a couple of days the week after.
Another way to create the calorie deficit we are looking for is to take a small number of calories from a few of the days leading up to brunch and for a few days after.
If you are not counting calories this can be done by cutting out a higher calorie food that you normally have each day. For example, cutting out the latte you have in the morning. A medium latte from Starbucks comes in at around 200kcal. Do this for the 5 days before and 5 days after brunch and you will have saved yourself 2000kcal.
If you are counting your calories you can easy take 200-400kcal off of your daily intake for the days leading up to and the days after, again depending on the deficit you wish to create.
You can also do a full day fast the day after brunch. Have nothing but water and zero calorie beverages, such as black coffee and diet coke.
On morning of brunch, you want to get up early and hit the gym. We are going to increase that calorie deficit and make sure all the food about to be consumed goes to the right places and not straight to your waist and hips.
If you are not used to exercising on an empty stomach it is advisable to have a small protein based snack when you get up, before you hit the gym. You can have a meal similar to the meals you had yesterday during the day or you can have something like a whey protein shake.
When you get to the gym the first thing you want to do is resistance exercise. This can be lifting weights, using the gym machines or even TRX or bodyweight exercises. Try and train until near failure, when you feel like you just can’t get any more reps. This will stimulate muscle protein synthesis- which to you and me means that your body is in recovery mode. This means a lot of the tasty treats you are about to consume will be used for recovery (and not weight gain). If you are not already on a structured weight training program, train your full body for maximum effect. Otherwise, stick to your regular program.
To finish your workout, it is best to do some glycogen depletion training. Glycogen is what carbohydrate is stored in the body as. So, if we can reduce the amount of carbs stored in the body a lot of what you eat will just refill these low levels. Which means more food with no guilt. Make sure you drink plenty of water during your morning workout. This will keep you hydrated and feeling full.
Some sample glycogen depleting workouts include:
Battle ropes- 20s work with 20s rest for 4-8 sets and as many rounds as you can handle.
Stationary bike sprints- 20s work with 20-40s rest for 4-8 rounds.
If you don’t fancy the high intensity type exercise then any endurance exercise will also do the job. You will have to go longer to get similar glycogen depleting effects though.
At brunch start with a big bowl of salad and lean protein. This will start you off on the right track with a filling low calorie meal. Then have at it; you are there to have fun and you don’t need my advice to do that. I’m also not going to tell you to stick to lower calorie drinks such as spirits as this usually just leads to people drinking more and offsets any benefits. Try and be mindful of how much you are consuming but ultimately have what you want.
After brunch have low calorie snacks to eat ready in the fridge. Good choices are chopped cucumber and carrots or fruits such as strawberries or grapes.
If the food is there and ready to eat you are much less likely to order that takeaway when you finally make it home.
The next day drink plenty of water and try to eat a healthy breakfast. Hold off as long as possible on the comfort foods and see if you still want them later.
Now, like Jenny, you can enjoy the Dubai social life without ruining your health.
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