Health & Fitness, Fitness & diet

Holiday celebrations: Target muscle gain

Are you afraid of gaining weight during the holiday season? To keep your resolutions in spite of rich meals, why not take advantage of this period to start a muscle-building diet? With tips and a few recipes to inspire you, finish the year on a high note and enjoy the festivities without feeling guilty.

Combining pleasure, health, fitness and the festive season


Between family meals, holidays and reunions with friends to celebrate the New Year, it is often difficult to stay focused on your fitness or health goals in the last few weeks of the year. However, it is possible to avoid the pitfalls of end-of-year festivities and combine pleasure and sport by taking advantage of this period and eating more to build up your muscles!

The bulking diet

The bulking diet corresponds to the period of muscle building. Composed of multiple meals spread throughout the day, it gives priority to proteins and lipids. It is associated with above-average calorie consumption, with about 3,000 kcal per day, but it is coupled with physical activity, which allows you to gain muscle rather than water and fat.

The principle of the bulking diet is to stimulate the metabolism by providing the body with extra energy to promote harmonious muscle growth while increasing its expenditure to eliminate excess fat and water.

Is it possible to combine a bulking diet with holiday meals?

Of course, a bulking diet during the festive season will not be as healthy or well-controlled as the rest of the year. However, it does contain a hearty meal at lunchtime and a high-protein snack in the evening: With a big family lunch at noon and a dinner aperitif in the evening, where you can decide what to eat, you can treat yourself during the holidays without feeling guilty.

Good habits to adopt


To limit weight gain and optimise the effects of your calorie intake, remember to keep yourself well hydrated. Maintain your workout routine between celebrations and get enough sleep to allow your body to assimilate nutrients and recover.

Here are the basics of a bulking diet, which you can adapt according to your abilities without too much constraint in order to take advantage of the holidays:

  • Aim for about 1.5 g of protein per kg of body weight per day, while staying limber! You can calculate what this represents with different animal or vegetable protein sources to get an idea of the approximate amount in your head and to know how to select the most interesting foods.
  • Favour lean protein, such as poultry, fish or seafood, which are a natural choice for the festive table!
  • Don’t limit yourself to carbohydrates, which are essential for energy production and muscle growth.
  • For muscle building, multiplying meals is more effective: Don’t feel guilty about taking advantage of extra aperitifs and frequent snacking.
  • An excess of simple sugars is the least desirable deviation from the diet, but you shouldn’t be afraid to treat yourself: Do your best to find a compromise without depriving yourself!

Winning menus for muscle building during the holidays


If you’re the one entertaining guests in your home, you are the master of your menus: Organise a special festive meal without extra calories that will go completely unnoticed. If you are a guest at a relative’s house, the assortment of seafood, fatty or lean fish, poultry, starchy foods and the cheese platter are completely compatible with your diet. You can also offer to bring a healthy fruit-based dessert if you are afraid of the traditional Christmas log.

A festive menu to encourage weight gain during the holidays

For Christmas or New Year’s Eve, here is an example menu compatible with a muscle-mass building goal:

  • Wholegrain toast with cottage cheese, dill and smoked salmon.
  • Turkey stuffed with chestnuts, mushrooms and Greek yoghurt, with sweet potato purée.
  • Cheese platter.
  • An assortment of fruit, dairy products and dark chocolate cookies made from oat flakes and nuts.
  • Some chocolate sweets, ideally with dark chocolate and nuts.

Exercise before the party: The meal will serve to replenish your glycogen stores. Eat a small snack just before meeting your family and friends, a fruit and dairy product, for example, to better resist temptation.

The day before and the day after, lighten your menus

If possible, avoid several days of uninterrupted festive meals. The day after New Year’s Eve, have breakfast with eggs, fruit and oatmeal, at lunchtime opt for a single dish with a salad, vegetables and grilled fish, and have a light dinner in the evening with wholegrain rice and a small piece of meat. It’s best to avoid starters and desserts on the day after the holidays, but you can easily plan a few healthy snacks during the day in addition to your meals.

Check out our Health & Fitness page for more advice.