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Our pilgrim forefathers may have been Puritans, but the Thanksgiving traditions they left for us are anything but pure. Thanksgiving is more like a celebration of debauchery, drowned in gravy and covered with marshmallows. In fact, Eat This, Not That! predicts Thursday will probably cost you as much as 4,000 calories or more, between your standard morning breakfast and the liberal ladles of lard for dessert. And, if you’re the type who looks at nutrition as a math equation, you already know that it takes just 3,500 calories to add an entire pound of fat to your body.
So will you gain a whole pound on Thursday? Might you gain even more? (And by the way, no matter what you gain, all is not lost. Try our guilt-reversing Ultimate One Day Detox anytime!)
Let’s look at the science.
No matter how many calories you eat, you’re simultaneously burning those calories off as well. “To gain one pound of fat in a day you would have to eat 3,500 calories more than what you burned off,” says Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., founder of The NY Nutrition Group. The average person fries about 1,600 calories a day, just keeping their heart beating and their lungs breathing. So to gain a pound on Thanksgiving, you would have to eat a total of 5,100 calories of turkey and pie.
That means to gain a pound on Thanksgiving, you’d have to eat:
2 turkey legs (with the skin on)
6 oz. turkey breast (with the skin on)
2 cups mashed potatoes (made with butter and whole milk) plus 1 cup turkey gravy
½ cup cornbread stuffing
2 slices canned cranberry sauce
1 cup candied sweet potatoes with marshmallow
1 cup Brussels sprouts with walnuts
1 cup green bean casserole
2 crescent rolls
1 piece pumpkin pie with 1 cup vanilla ice cream
2 pieces pecan pie each with 2 Tbsp whipped cream
and 1 slice apple pie
(Hey, at least make that turkey healthy—use our kitchen-tested, family-approved 90-Minute Turkey Recipe.)
That’s 5,130 calories! Chances are you won’t come near that total.
But you will “gain weight” temporarily. “On average, people could expect to see an extra two to four pounds staring back to them after their Thanksgiving feast,” says Moskovitz. Those numbers are a combination of the weight of the food and drink sitting in your belly, plus a bit of extra water weight.
Related: 5 Ways to Blast Belly Fat Fast
Aunt Nancy’s famous stuffing and Uncle Ned’s to-die-for mashed potatoes are to thank for that. These dishes (among other Turkey Day favorites) are typically loaded with sodium, which causes the body to hold on to extra fluid, and can increase blood pressure and the risk of stroke, too. (Discover which sides won’t harm you in our list of the Best and Worst Thanksgiving Dishes, ranked by calorie counts.)
For a quick slim-down, get a sweat going at the gym on Friday to help flush out the excess water and relieve some of the bloat, suggests Moskovitz. Aim to drink at least six eight-ounce glasses of water and munch on potassium-packed produce like sweet potatoes and bananas, and calcium-rich foods like yogurt. (Bear in mind, not all brands are nutritional champions. Stock up on the best with our report on the The Best & Worst Yogurts.) These nutrients will help flush out the excess sodium so you can slip back into your skinny jeans within a few days!
LOSE WEIGHT BEFORE THE MEAL—no sweat, by clicking here for the Eat This, Not That! science-backed new study: Six Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.
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