With Thanksgiving right around the corner and other holidays soon to follow, we are entering a time of year when lots of people inevitably gain some weight. Thanksgiving seems to be the catalyst for this period of weight gain, with people often intentionally overeating and then sort of just falling off healthy habits with the mindset that they will get back on track come January. I’ll admit that when it comes to Thanksgiving, I am fully aware that I’m going into the day knowing I’m going to be gluttonous and once I stop eating, I will probably be planted on a couch watching football and napping.
Therefore the point of this post is not to discourage you from feasting on Thanksgiving, but rather provide some tips to mitigate the amount of weight you’ll gain from the meal and keep you from falling off the wagon the rest of the holiday season:
- Starting about a week prior to Thanksgiving, it would be a good idea to cut back on your food intake just a little bit each day. Reducing your calories by 200 - 300 per day for just five days will give you an extra 1000-1500 to use on Thanksgiving and be a minor enough reduction that you will not experience any metabolic slow down, and also barely even notice.
- Plan your workouts so that the week of Thanksgiving, you are really pushing it and training as hard as possible. Either the morning of Thanksgiving, or more realistically the day before, plan to do some total body circuit training with weights. Moderate amount of weight, high reps, and going through the circuits nonstop. This will deplete the amount of stored carbohydrates in the muscle tissue, so that when you’re demolishing stuffing, potatoes and pie, those carbs fill your muscles back up, instead of “spilling over” as we like to call it in the bodybuilding world, and being stored as fat.
- Get a good night’s sleep before Thanksgiving. Calories in calories out is what determines weight loss/gain, and the calories in part is easy, but if you’re sleep deprived your hormones can get out of whack, and not only slow your metabolic rate but lead to increased cravings for sweets.
- Have a nutritious breakfast and go easy on the carbs and fats. You’re already going to be eating whatever you please in a few hours so now is not the time for donuts or breakfast danishes.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and have a full glass before you start eating. Simply having more water in your stomach is usually a surefire way to end up eating less.
- Pack your plate with as much food as you like and enjoy it! But, try and start off eating the proteins and vegetables first on this plate and each subsequent plate. That way when you do get full, if you haven’t finished everything on your plate you’ll be leaving off additional carb calories.
- Actually take time to chew your food. Don’t inhale it. You’ll eat slower and you won’t choke (or chip a tooth on your fork like I did last year after a bit too much wine).
- Consume lower-calorie alcoholic drinks.
- One dessert is done, try not to munch on leftovers the rest of the evening. Not only will this save you calories, but you’ll sleep better that night if your body isn’t trying to digest even more food after your feast.
- The following day, get right back on track with your normal diet.
If you celebrate Thanksgiving with multiple families, try to just abide by these rules for all of them. As a bonus, I usually save my heaviest most intense workout for the day after Thanksgiving. I’ll use all that food for extra energy and burn off a ton of those calories too! Just whatever you do, don’t let one big meal totally derail your progress. With just a little planning and thought, the holiday fun shouldn't have to come with the holiday weight gain!
If you could use some help planning and executing a true Thanksgiving feast worthy of a nap afterward, The Chopping Block has upcoming cooking classes you won't want to miss:
- Thanksgiving Crash Course Saturday, November 11 10am Merchandise Mart
- Thanksgiving Workshop Monday, November 20 10am Merchandise Mart
Can't make it to a cooking class this month? Download our Thanksgiving Survival Guide.