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Three Tactics to not Gain Weight on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and inevitably everyone is eager to pig out on a big dinner that precedes another big dinner come Christmas. Two big holidays that spell out two big spikes in calories that lead right into the usual “This time will be different” weight loss New Year’s resolution. Here’s how to outsmart it!


First off, understand that there’s a couple of ways you can solve this but not all of them are going to be easy. You only have so much willpower to say no, and if you have a wolfish appetitte like I do around good food, this is a real problem. So let’s go over the options that work.

Tactic 1: Responsible portions

The least romantic and most difficult solution if your eyes light up to all the enthusiasm that human culture pours into celebratory events of nearly every kind. You do your homework on what the most fattening culprits are at the table and restrain yourself from overeating. This means taking single servings of everything and if you want to eat more you reach for the least calorie dense foods if such a thing even exists at your table. This is also assuming you don’t have any social pressure around you to eat more, no drinking of alcohol to wear away at your resolve, no unexpected or surprise dishes that push you over the edge. Eating light with breakfast and lunch will help give you more room at dinner.

I personally don’t think this is a good choice for most people, but if you can communicate with the people attending the dinner, have some lower calorie selections make up the feast, and just keep a good level of self-control, it can work. You will probably only walk away eating 0 or 500 calories too much.

Tactic 2: Pre-meal Exercise

Another choice you can do is to either exercise early in the day and build up a caloric deficit before you attend the big dinner. In the past I would walk on the treadmill before Thanksgiving started and then be showered and ready to have a postworkout feast. This is a little better of an option because you are at least making a deficit of calories to offset going nuts at the table, however exercise can increase the body’s appetite and cause you to eat more overall. After working out the body’s muscles break down and need to be repaired by food intake and protein. Keep in mind an hour of walking 3 miles only burns about 530 calories, something very quickly undone with some mashed potatoes and gravy.

Tactic 3: Fast

My personal favorite, and my go-to tactic for any big feast events that I attend. Intermittent fasting can help big time with keeping your weight in check and even more if you have experience doing more advanced fasting like 2 meals a day or one meal a day (OMAD). Fasting is essentially lowering your meal frequency and not changing much on the total calories you eat for the day. Thanksgiving dinner is really good but if it’s the only meal you eat for the day, your stomach does hit it’s limit; especially if there’s a lot of protein in your selections.

Holidays come every year, be prepared!

What to Keep in Mind

All ideas in this post can work, just the same way that any workout program or education program can. The individual needs to make it work, and the one that works for the individual is the one right for you. Excess weight loves to creep on gradually over the years from not having answers to events like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Other events will sneak on a few extra hundred calories like birthdays, anniversaries, and parties, food is just baked into the cake of human culture. Having a response to these events will help keep weight building up throughout the year so that you can get more out of your holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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