It’s the most diet-filled time of the year.
Thanksgiving brings all the delicious meats, cheeses, sauces, gravies, and fatty vegetables you can eat… and all the accompanying pounds of extra Thanksgiving weight gain and shame.
It’s no surprise that many New Year’s resolutions involve losing weight and eating better. And that’s why we’re here (and why you’re here).
How much weight does the average person gain during the holidays?
The good news: You know that familiar warning about how the average American gains 5 to 10 pounds over the holidays? Totally fake.
“There is no scientific data to support this number,” says Jamie Cooper, PhD, an exercise physiologist and associate professor in the University of Georgia’s Department of Food and Nutrition.
He co-authored a study, published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, where participants averaged just 1.7 pounds. acquired
(Another study reported an average weight gain of 0.9 pounds.)
OK, now the bad news: Those who exercised (at least 150 minutes a week on average) gained as much weight as those who didn’t. Gulp.
“That doesn’t mean you should cut out exercise,” Cooper warns, “but it really depends on your food choices.”
Still, is it worth worrying about such a small number? it’s not that It’s hard to shed a few pounds in January when you’re serving up your broccoli and chicken breasts.
Except for many people, it is is. Cooper says many people won’t Lose their holiday weight in the new year.
“There is something called creeping obesity,” she explains. “If you put on a small amount of weight every year, year after year, it really adds up over time.”
The average American gains 1 to 2 pounds a year, and if that gain comes primarily around the holidays, it makes sense to try to avoid it.
How to Avoid Gaining Weight on Thanksgiving
So back to that exercise problem.
Cooper’s easiest tip for surviving the season without loosening your belt is to stick to your normal routine as long as you try eating healthy and exercising (it can’t hurt to up your exercise intensity a bit, too).
In his study, initial body weight was a greater predictor of holiday weight gain than exercise, meaning heavier people tended to put on more pounds.
So if you’re already lean and trim, you’re on the right track.
Cooper recommends weighing yourself regularly over the holidays so you’re constantly catching the number — and then cutting back on excessive liquid calories like alcohol, punch and eggs.
Finally, be aware of how many calories are in your food. “That single holiday cookie has 150 calories, and you have to walk a mile and a half to burn it off,” she says.
How much exercise does it take to burn off Thanksgiving calories?
Read on to imagine what it takes to work from a typical Thanksgiving plate.* Then decide if that extra glass of wine is worth it.
(All calorie counts are based on a 150-pound person, so if you’re overweight, you’ll torch more calories.)
Before your guests arrive, start the big day with some Yoga Surya Namaskar (3.3 METS) to center your mind and adopt an “attitude of gratitude.” Ten minutes of flowing yoga will zap every pat of real butter (36 calories).
2. Turkey legs
You called dibs — via mass e-mail — on one of the drumsticks last week. Earn it by putting some time in the kitchen because the drumsticks will take about two and a half hours of oven time (3.3 METS) to burn off 542 (pre-basted) calories.
3. Pumpkin Pie
Sign up for the T-Day morning turkey trot, and you won’t have to feel too bad about pounding away at that 323-calorie slice of pumpkin pie.
Maintain a 10-minute-mile pace (9.8 METS) for half an hour and you’ll burn enough calories to top it off with a tablespoon of whipped cream.
Get a healthy recipe: Pumpkin Pie with Whole Wheat Crust.
We don’t need no smelly gravy packets.
Your mom is making gravy the old-fashioned way — with drops and giblets.
Help clean house (3.3 METS) for 12 minutes before everyone arrives to discard each quarter-cup serving of turkey gravy (46 calories).
5. Sweet Potato Casserole
If you have visions of this Southern dance classic in your head, make room for just under an hour of moderate-intensity calisthenics (3.8 METS)—a serving (249 calories) of push-ups, crunches, lunges, squats, and planks. Time to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
He’s only arrived five minutes ago and already your dirty Aunt Esther is asking why you’re not married/don’t have kids/wear your hair so short/have that tattoo.
Lace up your sneakers and head out for a 35-minute-long power walk (6 METS) to get you through dinner with two glasses of cabernet (244 calories).
Sitting next to Aunt Easter of course.
Can’t stop thinking about that dressing, huh? Leave the rack for 38 minutes (3.8 METS) and negate 162 calories in a 1/3-cup serving of the smoothie.
(Who are you kidding? You double that racking time.)
Get a healthy recipe: Bulgur apple and sage stuffing
8. Green Bean Casserole
If you like your veggies weird, get a rope. Just nine minutes of jump rope (11 METS) can serve up those beans (111 calories).
Get an even healthier recipe: Healthy Green Bean Casserole
You heard Cousin Miriam is bringing her traditional Hannukah Kugel. Host a game of flag football (4 METS), and you’ll melt through a one-cup serving (257 calories) in about an hour.
10. Cranberry Sauce
Want to make boogering cranberry sauce for your kids at the table?
Brave the pre-Black Friday sales (2.3 METS) for an hour and 20 minutes to ditch that bittersweet, red munchie (210 calories).
11. Pumpkin Spice Latte
You have “treated” yourself (for 24m (this month) is a mid-turkey-day jolt to Starbucks’ fall pumpkin treats.
Better to do some max-effort calisthenics (8 METS). It will take you about 40 minutes to burn off the calories hidden in a Grande with 2 percent milk and whipping cream (380 kcal).
* Calories calculated from The Compendium of Physical Activities using the calorie calculator from Cornell University’s METS.