Thanksgiving stuffing could just as easily refer to how much the average American eats when they sit down to their holiday meal as it does to what sits inside the bird. According to the American Council on Exercise, most of us consume 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day. That makes it the highest calorie consumption day of the year and it’s enough to pack on nearly a pound of extra weight.
Turkey Day weight gain isn’t inevitable though. Read on for five smart tips on how to avoid the holiday pounds pile up.
- Dream up calorie burn. Studies show that losing even one night of shuteye slows down your metabolism by upping levels of hunger and fat storage hormones. Lack of sleep also lowers your defenses making it more likely you’ll give in to that extra helping of marshmallow sweet potatoes or third glass of wine. It’s harder to get adequate rest during the holidays but even a 15-minute cat nap before company comes can strengthen your anti-binge resolve.
- Pick your spots. Some holiday treats are smarter choices than others so be selective. For example, pigs-in-a-blanket are small and cute but at 66 calories each, these little piggies can really add up. They’re also loaded with artery clogging saturated fat and cancer-causing nitrates. Half a cup of steamed or boiled shrimp is a plenty satisfying nosh that contains under100 calories and virtually no fat. Just go easy on the cocktail sauce which can ratchet up the calorie count if you get carried away.
- Banish leftovers. You’ve already done enough damage so get rid of the evidence. If you’re hosting the holiday, buy some brightly colored Tupperware and gift every guest with a generous helping of dark meat and pumpkin pie. If you’re a guest and the host offers to send you home with a goody bag, either politely turn it down or cheerfully accept some leftover salad and green beans.
- Exercise, within reason. Working out helps ward off holiday weight gain by sizzling off at least some of your extra calorie consumption and by giving your metabolism a temporary boost. However, it’s next to impossible to burn off every single calorie you take in so don’t even try. Extend your pre- and post-holiday meal sweat sessions by an additional 5-10 minutes – and then move on with your life. We’ve got plenty of suggestions for Turkey Day workouts.
- Don’t skip meals. If you wake up famished the day after turkey dinner, chalk it up to wild swings in your blood sugar that trigger the flow of gastric acids, which in turn leads to more hunger despite the fact you had a major pig out the night before. Don’t even think about skipping meals to make up for yesterday’s calorie orgy. Fasting and deprivation will only throw off your metabolism even further, spinning you into a binge spiral. Ride out the day by eating small, balanced meals every 2-4 hours.
It’s week 5 of AcaciaTV’s Maintain, Don’t Gain Holiday Challenge. Get more tips, workouts and advice from the rest of the Acacia team for keeping your weight under control through the holidays: