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What you Should Eat for Thanksgiving

BY Nick Suffredin

Thanksgiving dinner usually means plenty of options to pile on your plate. There are many foods you know you shouldn’t have, but there also some good foods you can select. Use the following guidelines to have a healthy Thanksgiving.

During a typical Thanksgiving dinner, most people will over indulge themselves. Honestly, there isn’t a good reason for endurance athletes to pack on the pounds during Thanksgiving simply because it is a gluttonous affair. Instead of just gorging on an unnecessary amount of food, let’s look at a way you can fuel for the next day’s workout as well as recover from the morning’s turkey trot race you may have completed. Just because you’re fueling for a workout doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, it just means you should look at eating good food in a smart way. Determining how to focus your calories is the beginning.


First, there needs to be a strategy to help ensure you don’t overdo it. You don’t want to waste calories on simple things as hors d’oeuvres or cheese and crackers. Your attention should be on the big meal at hand. Before the big holiday if your family has some specific recipes they typically make, look into seeing if there are some healthier options for some ingredients that can be used.

Smart Decisions

Prior to filling your plate up, do a quick survey of the options and then make smart decisions with reasonable sized portions that you cannot live without. Don’t waste your calories on the foods you can have any week throughout the year. Try to resist the temptation to go back for seconds, there are always leftovers you can enjoy after your workout the next day. If you can resist seconds you are less likely to overeat and then have more room for a delicious dessert.

Healthy Options

Some foods that are great to target are turkey, plain vegetables, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, some light or defatted gravy, and for dessert pumpkin pie (portion guide below with benefits). Keeping your portions small will allow you to enjoy more of the foods you enjoy while keeping your overall lifestyle in balance.

Plate portions to consider:

  • 4 OZ of Turkey – Estimated 300 calories – Contains 30 grams of protein and Vitamins B3 and B6.
  • 2 OZ of Sweet Potatoes – Estimated 100 calories – Good source of Omega-6 Fats and Vitamins A, C, B3, B5, B6.
  • 4 OZ of Mashed Potatoes – Estimated 100 calories – Good source of carbohydrates.
  • 4 OZ of Plain Vegetables – Estimated 100 calories – Mixed vegetables are a good source of fiber.
  • 1 Slice Pumpkin Pie – Estimated 320 calories – Another great source for Vitamin A and good fats.

This is a balanced recovery meal for your turkey trot and you’ll also be fueled for tomorrow’s workout all doing so with a healthy indulgence to celebrate the holidays, but do it with your goals in mind for training. You can enjoy the holidays without over consuming as long as you have a strategy.

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About Nick Suffredin

Nick Suffredin is a former scientist at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute where he worked on testing elite professional athletes to enhance their hydration practices and nutrition intake to improve their performance. Currently, Nick provides fueling and hydration strategies working with D3 Multisport.