Protein-Up, Carb-Down: Holiday Recipes to Fight the Bulge

The holiday season is full of delicious starches: warm biscuits, buttery pies, golden cookies, mashed potatoes, cheesy casseroles, bite-size pastry puffs—the menu of carb-rich comforts goes on and on. And while we are all very familiar with the post-holiday weight gain, we might be surprised to learn that the cause of those extra pounds may not be due to simply overeating during the season, but overeating of all those comforting carbs in particular.

Researchers recently confirmed that individuals following various weight loss plans kept the weight off best while following a high-protein, low-glycemic diet. The glycemic index refers to the how quickly sugars from various carbohydrates are absorbed into the bloodstream. Generally, whole, unrefined grain products have a lower glycemic index, although some completely whole starch foods (honey or potatoes) can still fare quite high on the index.

Over a 26-week period, individuals that consumed more protein and less sugar were able to keep off the weight, while those on a low-protein or moderate-protein diet eventually regained significant weight. The take-home? Eat quality, lean protein foods, with a moderate amount of whole grains.

During the holidays, is it even possible to eat lower carb foods and still relish in the season’s eatings? Daunting as it may seem, it’s actually quite easy. Rather than the usual breads, cakes, casseroles, and crackers, think spiced nuts, oats, broiled and baked proteins, dark chocolates, and whole cheeses.

We’ve done a recipe roundup of high-protein dishes suitable for all of your holiday entertaining needs. And sticking to proper whole foods nutrition, we’ve kept the focus on lean protein, real ingredients, and a mix of fresh produce. Indulge in the holiday season without sacrificing flavor or nutrition. For even more low-carb dessert ideas, check out our flourless desserts guide.

The Entree:

Fish with Creamy Leeks, epicurious

The Vegetarian Entree:

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Tofu, 101 Cookbooks


Spiced Holiday Nuts, The Food Network


Overnight Oatmeal with Almonds and Cranberries, Delish

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Lemon Cream, epicurious


Dark Chocolate Bark with Walnuts and Dried Cherries, Delish


Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp with Rosemary and Stilton, epicurious

Marinated Mozzarella Cheese, Taste of Home



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