I can't believe it's already time for Thanksgiving ... and I'm certainly not complaining.
It's hard to beat a holiday that's all about friends, family ... and delicious food. Thanksgiving is the true kickstart of the holiday season ... but it also marks the time when most of us let our health & fitness slide until the new year comes.
And that's because we tend to go overboard with our Thanksgiving meals ... which leads to a downhill spiral until we finally decide to dig ourselves out of the hole come January 1st.
I know the feeling because I've been there myself ... but that doesn't have to be the case for you this year.
These 4 tips will help you enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner, keep you from going overboard ... and make sure you're still staying on track with your fitness goals.
Tip #1 - Plan ahead
When you know you're going to be eating more than usual (during Thanksgiving or any holiday for that matter) ... plan for it by doing things like:
- Making your meals leading up to dinner smaller & centered around protein (this helps you save room for the extra carbs & fats you'll be eating later in the day)
- Exercising in the morning or before dinner (I like to call this "clearing some calories" ... and it allows you to eat a little more due to the extra calories burned from your workout)
- Staying hydrated (drinking enough water helps control your appetite & can keep you from overeating)
Tip #2 - If you're drinking alcohol ... go with lower calorie options
It's not just the food that throws you off track during holidays like Thanksgiving ... it's a collection of the food & drinks. I'm not going to sit here and tell you not to have a drink ... but I am suggesting that you reach for these types of alcoholic beverages to help keep you on track:
-Low-calorie/light beers (Bud Light, Miller Light, Michelob Ultra, etc)
-Seltzers (there's countless options these days ... most of which hovering around 90-100 calories per serving)
-Mixed drinks using clear liquors (vodka & diet soda, tequila & lime, etc.)
Tip #3 - Portion your plate
You don't have to avoid any of the foods that make Thanksgiving one of the best holidays of the year ... just keep them portioned!
For each food group, use these portion control methods:
Proteins (turkey, ham, etc.) - Shoot for a palm-size portion of protein on your plate. This breaks down to roughly 6-8oz for males and 4-6oz for females. Luckily ... turkey is a lean protein source, and also the main dish on most Thanksgiving menus!
Carbs (stuffing, mashed/sweet potatoes, bread, cranberries, etc) - Yep ... this is the good stuff, and the stuff we tend to overdue the most. It's because these foods are easy to eat & delicious ... but they can add up in calories quickly too. Try to stay around a fist-size portion for these side dishes ... which is roughly 1 cup for males and 1/2 cup for females.
Fats (butter, oils, etc.) - This can be a little tricky ... because sometimes it's already cooked into the food you're eating. But for rolls, biscuits, breads, etc ... trying sticking with just a thumbnail-size portion of butter. Fats can add up in calories quicker than any other food group ... so don't go too crazy here.
And if you're still hungry after your first plate, that's okay! When it comes to seconds ... grab an extra serving of protein before anything else. It's hard to overdue protein or store it as body fat. Plus, it can help you feel more full compared to other food choices.
Once you've had your second serving of protein, and you're still hungry ... it's okay to grab another fist-size portion of your favorite side dish!
Tip #4 - Utilize supplements
There's quite a few supplements that can help minimize the damage when you're eating a little more than normal, and they include:
GDA's or Glucose Disposal Agents - These are products designed to help you break down extra carbohydrates & and use them as energy ... rather than store them as body fat. They can also help balance your blood sugar and prevent that nasty, after-dinner crash.
Probiotics - Probiotics promote a healthy gut ... and a healthy gut means less bloating & better digestion. This is helpful anytime ... but particularly helpful when you know you're going to be taking in some extra food.
Digestive Enzymes - These are enzymes that help you break down and digest your food. Protease, amylase, and lipase would be examples of digestive enzymes. Protease breaks down protein, amylase breaks down carbohydrates ... and lipase breaks down fats. You'll be taking in extra of each food group during Thanksgiving ... and these enzymes can help your body break down each food group more efficiently.
Green Powders - Often times, top-quality greens powders will have GDA ingredients, probiotics ... and digestive enzymes all included within them. They are a collection of specific ingredients designed to improve the health of your gut, minimize bloating ... and break down extra food to help prevent fat storage. They're a game changer on holidays like Thanksgiving.
And of course ... make sure you enjoy yourself!
Don't stress too much about food or losing progress ... just use these tips and be mindful of your situation. If you do that, you'll be just fine!
We're getting ready to dive into the heart of the holiday season ... and we know it only gets harder to stay on track with your fitness goals, but we're here to make it easier for you.
Our Sports Nutrition Specialists & Personal Trainers are ready to help you put together a plan to get you through the holidays ... and make sure you go into your new year looking great & feeling confident.
Just stop into your nearest Supplement Superstores location ... and we'll make sure you have everything you need to see the best possible results!
*This article was written by Andrew Lynn, who has a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. He is also a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist.