Do NOT Gain a Pound of Fat This Thanksgiving

How to have and healthy Thanksgiving, but still eat bomb food!!!

I know, I know. It sounds ridiculous to cut calories on the holiday probably most well known for indulging. People say, “It is only one day a year!” That is true! You do not have to make any changes if you do not want to! You are in control of your own life, and you are responsible for yourself. If you are cooking for your kids, you are also responsible for their health…but I am not guilt tripping at all. Everyone deserves to enjoy life.

Now that I have made my position clear, I hope I have communicated my appreciation for delicious food. However, know this, the Caloric Control Council estimates the average Thanksgiving meal contains 4,500 calories and 229g of fat. Let that sink in.

The purpose of this blog is to help you have a healthier Thanksgiving while still being able to enjoy it. I will accomplish this purpose by giving you tips for physical activity on Thanksgiving, and recipes that are just as delicious as any other recipe.

My mom always goes over the top on Thanksgiving. She would start saving her money in July so she could buy everything she wanted for our Thanksgiving dinners. Her food was so onolicious that until I started making my own substitutes I never found anything that compared to her cooking.

So first, here are some tips for physical activity. If they seem obvious that is fine, then I hope they at least serve as a reminder!

1.     Start the morning off with a fasted HIIT cardio.

a.     Do each exercise for 40 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds

b.     Repeat the entire cycle of exercises 4 times to equal 20 minutes of exercise

                                               i.     Sprinting (perhaps treadmill)

                                              ii.     Jumping squats (get low on the squat)

                                            iii.     Pushup (do variations if necessary)

1.     Easy- pushups on knees

2.     Medium- regular pushups

3.     Advanced- Clapping pushups

                                            iv.     Mountain climbers (pushup position, but pull one leg to chest, then alternate)

            4. According to 20 minutes of this style of exercise will burn approximately 360 calories.

2.     As soon as you complete your HIIT, eat a bowl of oat bran with protein powder and egg whites on the side. Eating right after a workout is important, but on this particular day we are also ensuring you eat fiber and protein earlier in the day to help maintain healthy macros and keep your metabolism in check.

3.     If eating with other people, get a group of people who will be present at the meal to agree to go on a walk after the meal. Having people agree in advance will make it harder for them to bail later, versus trying to find walking buddies when everyone is full and the tryptophan is hitting. According to walking for 20 minutes at 3mph will burn approximately 90 calories if you weigh 175lbs. 

4.     Cook the food you bring, not only so you can control how healthy the recipe is, but it also keeps you moving, rather than simply purchasing food.

5.     Make sure you enjoy the company, or your solitude, rather than making food the focus of Thanksgiving.

Now for the food…

1.     Eat your normal amount of meals throughout the day so you are not too hungry when you arrive for the Thanksgiving meal. 

2.     Drink a lot of water. recommends drinking 8 glass of water 8 times a day. Your needs may vary. There are many reasons you should drink the recommended amount of water, however, people often confuse thirst with hunger. Do not be that person.

3.     When you do eat your Thanksgiving meal make sure your plate is at least close to proportionate between fats, proteins, and carbs. The exact proportion depends on your health, weight, goals etc.

4.     Do not take leftovers home (unless the food you take home is relatively lean).

Recipes- I will give specific example of substitution that keeps the food bomb. I will give pairs of recipes. The first of each pair is the regular version and the second is the healthier version.


Fruit salad

“Fruit Salad”

This is really more of a sugar salad than anything. It is the favorite dish in my family at all holiday parties. The measurements really do not matter. You can really just add any fruit in just about a reasonable amount. I am just giving you an idea here.

1. 16 oz of sour cream

2. 2 regular size cans of pineapple chunks (drain juice)

3. .5 jar of maraschino cherries

4. 1 cup of walnuts

5. 24 oz of marshmallows

6. .5 bunch of seedless grapes

To prepare, simply combine all ingredients, stir, chill then serve.

Fruit Salad – protein style

1. 16 oz of cottage cheese (I do not mind products with full-fat content)

2. 2 regular size cans of pineapple chunks (drain juice)

3. .5 jar of maraschino cherries

4. 1 cup of walnuts

5. 1 scoop of whey protein powder

6. .5 bunch of seedless grapes

As you can see, the differences between the recipes are SLIGHT to say the least however the difference in calories for the entire recipe is 436.



I have done quite a bit of research and reading on the nutritional content of deep fried turkey. There are a number of articles and new stories claiming that nutritional content between deep fried turkey and roasted turkey are very small. However, according to when compared to, there is a substantial difference.

I used a recipe for the deep-fried turkey that I found on See the link for the recipe

Fried Turkey

1.     Fresh whole turkey

2.     Peanut oil

3.     Cajun seasoning

4.     Onions

Here is a recipe for “Chef Meg’s Herb Roasted Turkey”

Roasted Turkey

1.     12 lb. turkey

2.     1 orange

3.     2 T olive oil

4.     1 T rosemary

5.     1 t thyme

6.     1 t sage

7.     ½ t black pepper

I personally like to keep my turkey simple, and I do not use herbs, however, I appreciate the recommendation to use the V-rack when cooking the turkey. You can apply this tip to your cooking year round to ensure not only a low caloric content but also to reduce saturated fat intake.


Sweet Potato

The next substitution is candied yams for sweet potato…obviously there will be a significant difference in nutritional content. One is covered in high-calorie deliciousness, and the other is the go-to food for bodybuilders who are cutting weight. TOTAL. OPPOSITE. ENDS. OF. THE. SPECTRUM. However, I think this is a fair substitution. Roasted sweet potatoes are often considered the dessert when on a cutting diet. When roasted the sugars inside the sweet potato caramelize, but to make it even more delectable you may add stevia and cinnamon. Cinnamon is a natural thermogenic, and aids in weight loss! So why would you unnecessarily add to your waistline when you can have deliciousness that is prime for cutting?

Candied yams

  1.  1 can of sweet potatoes
  2. .25 cup butter
  3. .5 cup of brown sugar
  4.  1.5 cups of miniature marshmallows

The directions are simple. After preheating the oven, place the sweet potatoes in a medium baking dish, cover with butter and marshmallows and then sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for 25 mins.

Caloric difference 102, 10g carb, 7 g fat, sugar 12g

Note the difference in sugar is approximately half of the recommended daily intake as determined by the World Health Organization.

Roasted sweet potatoes

  1. Sweet potatoes
  2. Stevia (if desired)
  3. Cinnamon (if desired)

Roasting sweet potatoes is incredibly simple, and the best way to enjoy the natural sugars. Simply clean them, then wrap each individually in aluminum foil. Bake for 30-45 mins at 450 degrees. IF you desire you may sprinkle with stevia and cinnamon.

Green Beans


The next and last substitution is also so obvious is almost seems ridiculous, but nonetheless, I included it. Green bean casserole seems to be very popular on Thanksgiving. If you want to cook or eat it then by all means, go for it. However, I prefer to replace the casserole with steamed vegetables. I also happen to love steamed vegetables and hate casserole. Here is the recipe, and the nutritional differences.

Green Bean Casserole

1.     2 cans of green beans (drained)

2.     1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup

3.     1 can of French fried onions

4.     1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese   

The recipe on this is very simple

Steamed Green Beans

Sooooo…you can take green beans, steam there and you are done! Or, if you want more flavor you can do this recipe

1.     1 lb fresh green beans (trimmed)

2.     3 T olive oil

3.     3 cloves garlic (sliced)

4.     1 pinch of Hawaiian or Himalayan salt

5.     1 pinch ground black pepper

6.     2 T white wine vinegar

7.     3 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese

8.     2 T chopped fresh parsley

The differences between the two recipes, versus comparing the plain steamed green beans are: caloric difference 176, 11g carbs, 12 g fat

The total difference in meals:

Calories                      3,203

Carbohydrates           574g

Protein                       7g

Fat                              83.4g

So, you can never know if I am right unless you try it. Why not give it a shot? These recipes are just as delicious as the originals or classics, and you will not be adding at least an extra pound of fat to your body. The difference in calories is almost one pound of pure fat. If you eliminate your alcohol for the night you will have saved yourself an entire pound of fat. If you want to drink because it is a holiday and you deserve it, then try switching from a dessert or sparkling wine to a light sweet white, which will may save you around 150 calories.

If you include the HIIT and walking calories you burned earlier in the day you have cut approximately 450 calories from your Thanksgiving meal. The best part about HIIT is that your metabolism increases and begins to fire more rapidly, which means you will continue to burn more calories throughout the day than if you had not performed HIIT!

Either way, no matter what you choose, enjoy the holiday and take some time to rest.