The Fitness Recipe for Burning Turkey
In America it’s the one day of the year you should not worry about your diet because it’s all about the food! It’s even better if you don’t have to cook. My husband makes our Thanksgiving meal complete with a savory cranberries-sausage stuffing and a rich broccoli casserole. I must admit I have a generous portion and return later in the evening for a second slightly smaller plate.
The cook spends hours in the kitchen making dishes you enjoy.
Of course you’d be rude not to enjoy everything. Plus these are usually dishes that only come around once or twice a year to enjoy. So do yourself a favor and go sweat so you don’t sweat it.
First, don’t skimp on your workouts leading up to Thanksgiving.
You might need to make an extra effort to shore up your commitment to go to the gym or however you get your physical activity. If you enjoy Thanksgiving dinner earn it. Make plans to meet a friend for a walk or jog. Take your kids or dog to the park to play ball. I have a treadmill in my basement and it’s very easy to get on it for 15 minute and jog a mile or so. That burns about 200 calories depending on your weight and speed.
Also add some muscle conditioning or strength training into the mix.
Remember muscle burns more calories than fat. If you build up your muscles you’ll actually require more calories for your body and burn more while sleeping. Do some push-ups or hold a plank for a minute or two. Feel your muscles heat up and fatigue. I have a fitness band in my bedroom and can run through some quick strengthening exercises in my pajamas while waking up in the morning.
On Thanksgiving Day, if you’re not the one slaving away in the kitchen, do something active you enjoy early in the day.
Join a Turkey Trot 5k. Running the entire distance is not mandatory. Or many gyms have special classes with Turkey Burning themes to make you sweat. I know a group of people who organize a touch football game every year. This will help quell your guilt for eating a lot.
Afterwards, enjoy a walk or join the kids in front of the Wii. What ever you do don’t sit down and fall asleep! There is a lot of research finding that movement after eating a big or high fat meal is best for your body and digestive system.
An Indiana University study found physical activity after eating a high fat meal reversed and improved the functioning of arteries. The break down of high-fat meals causes stress markers in the arteries and contribute to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s’ and cancer.
Another Japanese study found exercising soon after eating did a better job of reducing triglycerides levels, which can lead to heart disease.
Unfortunately a recent Oxford study found that fat could start to gather in the tissues around your plumpest areas as quickly as a few hours of eating a rich meal. The researchers did say that fit people found it easier to get rid of that fat as exercise gives a long-term boost to fat-burning mechanisms.
As for burning calories, I could find no scientific evidence that exercise before or after eating is better. You burn the same amount of calories whether you do the same exercise before or after dinner. However, you can exercise more intensely and therefore burn more calories before a big meal. You should wait a few hours after eating if you think can manage a hearty workout after the feast.
The bottom line is one meal isn’t going to make you fat. Once the tightness of your belly subsides you shouldn’t notice any weight gain. Only if you let the trend of over eating last through the Christmas holidays should you worry about your waistline and your over-all health.
- Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.
- Indiana University Study on exercise after eating: http://www.mycurves.com/uploads/health_articles/188/8_30_Exercise_after_highfat_meal.pdf
- Oxford Study: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/9264356/Fat-reaches-waist-just-three-hours-after-a-big-meal.html
- Japanese Study on triglycerides: http://www.livescience.com/26377-exercise-timing-heart-disease-triglycerides.html