With the holidays fast approaching, every bodybuilder or fitness enthusiast knows this can be one of the most challenging times of the year to keep your diet in check, prevent weight gain, and remain on track with your fitness goals. It all starts on Thanksgiving when people celebrate the pilgrims’ land on Plymouth Rock, the origins on American colonization, and most of all…food. Fattening food.
Plates and dinner tables will be stacked as people love the taste of their favorite dinner celebration each year. The amount of calories that go into one sitting on Thanksgiving is often equal to two or more. This is one of the fastest ways to gain weight and store fat. In addition, it establishes an eating pattern that can continue into the New Year and well beyond. After all, habits really are everything when it comes to dieting.
So in honor of everyone’s favorite season for weight gain and body fat storage, let’s review some of the things you need to know to experience fitness success for the holiday.
NOTE: Top picks and choices are denoted with a **, while “not too bad picks” are denoted with one *. Anything without a * or ** should be avoided for health minded and fitness minded people.
- White Meat (4 ounces): 180 calories**
- Dark Meat (4 ounces): 320 calories
2. Mashed Potatoes
- 1 Cup: 190 calories*
- Yams (1 mashed): 200 calories**
- Gravy: 50 calories (1/4 cup)*
- 1/2 Cup: 190 calories
4. Dinner Rolls
- Small: 90 calories*
- Peas, Green Beans, Carrots, Asparagus, Broccoli, etc..(About 1 cup); 100 calories**
- Apple Pie (1/8 of the pie slice): 400 calories
- Pumpkin Pie (“””””): 300 calories
- Vanilla Ice Cream (1/2 cup): 150 calories
- Wine (4 ounces): 100 calories
- Champagne (6 ounces): 120 calories
- Deviled Eggs: 60 calories each
- Fruit Salad (1/2 cup): 70 calories
- Cranberry Sauce (1/4 cup): 110 calories
There are a few things you should always keep in mind when dieting properly. First, remember that 3500 calories is equal to one pound, but also keep in mind that you need to simultaneously put value in the kinds of calories you consume. Obviously, white meat turkey is important because it is essentially fat free and full of valuable protein. Carrots, cauliflower, and mostly all green vegetables are relatively low in calories and the healthiest on the menu in the sense of low fat, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals so you can load up on as many calories as you want for them. In addition, it’s okay to have a little mashed potatoes (yams or sweet potatoes are an even healthier substitute and choice) or one dinner roll (without butter, of course), or one glass of red wine, but these aren’t foods that you should want to eat the most or be focused on. In fact, you want to keep that at an extreme bare minimum to come away with the healthiest meal.
Also, be aware of portion size. Most of the foods listed here with their caloric content are either 1 cup or less, so if you have multiple portion sized of anything, then you double and triple your caloric intake for that food. If you can walk away from the table feeling full, having comprised the majority of your meal with white meat and green vegetables and under 1,000 calories, then you probably had a relatively healthy meal. The calories can add up quick on Thanksgiving and during the holidays, especially with the desserts, appetizers, drinks, and variety of foods offered when combined with one another. It is easy to go up towards 1500-2000 calories or more for most people. This amount of calories is actually the total recommended intake for the entire day for some people. You want to try to keep your calories at a normal day’s dinner meal level and no different in discipline, except for maybe one exception since it is the holiday, like your mother’s or grandmother’s special pie or dessert.
But for the serious bodybuilder, Thanksgiving should ultimately be a time to build muscle and continue progressing towards your goals. For that, be sure to get a good lift in during the morning before the gym shuts down so that your body can take in all those nutrients and the valuable protein to continue the muscle building process. If you stay aware, you should escape the holidays in better shape than when you began. That’s dedication and commitment. That’s what champions are made of.