Turkey Day Tips


By: Kyle Arsenault CSCS

With the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I thought it would be appropriate to share some easy tips to help you stay on the path to enhanced performance and health. Now, this will not be a post telling you “not to eat this” and “stay away from that,” but instead I will share with you a few things you can do to maximize performance and health during the absolutely best day known to man. I mean come on, giving thanks, spending time with family and loved ones, eating massive amounts of delicious food and watching football all day long…is there anything better?

Thursday can't come quick enough

Although Thanksgiving is the Holy Grail of all holidays, many times the activities and nutrition involved are far from conducive to performance, aesthetic and health enhancement. Loading up on turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pumpkin pie and all Aunty Anne’s baked goodies is not only something you should look forward to, but is something you should be able to take pleasure in and know that it will not destroy your training efforts. And just how can we do this? By following these few simple tips, your Turkey Day extravaganza will not wreak havoc on your training and performance goals.

1)      Train!

What a surprise…training will help you better maintain your goal of performance and aesthetic enhancement. Whether it is a holiday or not, training is the most important component of a healthy and productive life. Not only will training create adaptive changes within the body that help to reduce disease and increase performance parameters (efficient movement, strength, power, agility, endurance, etc), but training will allow you to directly and indirectly expend more calorie to better help you offset your Thanksgiving feast. Performing a proper and intense training session (even if it is only 30 minutes) will help deplete energy stores and make room for some of your holiday spread to be stored as substrates other than fat.

2)      Eat breakfast and quality snacks before the feast

Too often individuals figure that since they will be eating a large meal during the day, they don’t (or shouldn’t) eat additional meals. Not eating breakfast and snacks before the holiday meal will only slow your metabolism and leave you ravished…therefore you will be more likely to splurge on the low quality (high sugar/processed) foods. Try having a veggie omelette or a protein shake for breakfast and a small protein packed snack before chow time.

A great start to the day


3)      Drink water and other non-calorie beverages

Other than the fact that our body requires adequate hydration for training (which you should be performing), sticking with water/tea/coffee will help to reduce unnecessary calories (from juices, sodas, etc) as well as keep us feeling fuller throughout the day and during the meal. Not to mention better stabilizing blood sugar and other important factors when it comes to overall health.

4)      Eat slowly

Eating slowly allows your body to release and respond to certain hormones that signal satiety. If you attack your holiday plate like a wild animal, you will undoubtedly go back for more before your body has the chance to realize it is full. Before long, you will be sitting on the couch with your pants unbuttoned wishing you would have called it quits after the first plate full.

5)      Load up on the meat and veggies

Try to make the largest portions on your plate the turkey and veggie dish. I am not suggesting not to have potatoes and stuffing (because I am not a hypocrite and you can bet your arse that I will), but try to make these servings smaller. Stick mainly with the meat and veggies.



Dr. John Berardi's version of "My Plate"...stick to it for better results (90% of the time)

6)      Go for a walk

A little extra physical activity will help to utilize a some extra calorie as well as keep you from falling into bad posture all day long. Sitting in the car to the family gathering, sitting at the dinner table for the extended feast and sitting on the couch for the football games…that’s a lot of sitting. Try to break it up with a brisk and peaceful walk or two (or if you are really dedicated to your training, try performing some bodyweight movements such as squats, lunges, push-ups, etc….friends and family will understand, hopefully).

So enjoy, and I mean ENJOY your Thanksgiving. Make sure you express your thanks to those who you are truly thankful for. Laugh, love and eat some delicious food. Watch football, catch up with friends and family and know that Thanksgiving is a time to relax a bit and have some fun. Employ a few of these tips and your journey through the greatest day known to mankind will not be all that bad for your health, aesthetics and performance.  And even if you don’t, you will be able to jump back on the health and performance wagon the very next day.



Any other tips to survive the holiday chow downs? Leave a comment below to help everyone out.



One Response to Turkey Day Tips

  1. hydrosquall says:

    Ha, my sister has been trying to talk me into joining her in our town’s “turkey trot” run on Thursday, I would really like to just sleep in but I suppose I don’t want to torpedo all the training I’ve been sticking to… thanks for putting the exercise tip in there.

    Tipwise… Yeah, if you’ve got the option of having some sort of appetizer up front (rolls/salad), make sure to hit those veggies with a sprinkling of nuts. Fiber+protein+carbs lets you know you’re full, whereas pigging out on simple sugars (chips/bread) doesn’t have that same filling effect.

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