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10 Easy Tactics To Prevent Your Stomach From Spontaneously Combusting This Thanksgiving

It’s almost here. Thanksgiving. The one day of the year when America unites in unabashed, self-indulgent, unadulterated fatness. It’s the one day when it’s completely okay (it’s actually a little weird if you don’t) to go back for seconds — three-to-four times. The one day when it’s encouraged to sprawl out on a couch and watch football for 9+ hours in a row.

And for many, it’s pure bliss. Go ahead, consider it a national cheat day.

That said, your stomach doesn’t have to spontaneously combust at the same time every year. Believe it or not, but a large chunk of Thanksgiving food is actually healthy. It’s the nonstop IV of sustenance connected directly from table-to-belly, combined with a full-force onslaught of EVIL foods—specifically stuffing, sweet potato casserole, PIE, and butter-laced mashed potatoes—that leads to surefire weight-gain.

In the spirit of the holiday season ahead, we’re unleashing 10 extremely powerful, relatively harmless tactics that can help keep the pounds off on Thanksgiving day without cutting into your day of gluttony.

Enjoy it, just be somewhat smart and you’ll escape in tact.


10 Easy Tactics To Prevent Your Stomach From Spontaneously Combusting This Thanksgiving

Image: Men’s Fitness


1. Workout First Thing in the AM

There’s absolutely zero chance you’re breaking a sweat once football starts, family’s over, and the cornucopia of Thanksgiving aromas start to circulate the house.

Be proactive – TIVO the parade and hit the gym early.

You’ll get your daily dose of activity in and burn off a sizeable chunk of calories. What’s more, your body will use the food that you’re inevitably going to eat and re-route it towards recovery, growth, and new muscle synthesis.

Go for a long run through the leaves. Do one of our WOTMs. Bang out an intense HIIT session. Anything. Just sweat.


2. Chug a Protein Shake 2-3 Hours Before the “Main Event.”

It may seem counter-intuitive to eat (or drink, in this case) MORE food before an impending Thanksgiving slobberknocker, but the calorie-saving impact of a protein shake is profound. Pre-gaming the main event with a frothy protein shake can help increase your perception of fullness and reduce hunger cravings the rest of the day.

It’s 150 calories well spent.

The result — you’ll easily knock off a few hundred calories during Thanksgiving dinner, yet still feel just as satisfied. Gasp, how HORRIBLE would it be if you were too full to eat round two or three? Or skip your forth piece of pie?


3. Skip the Skin

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Turkey skin is loaded with empty calories, grease, and artery-clogging saturated fat. In fact, keeping the skin on doubles the fat and saturated fat content.

  • Turkey, meat only (1 cup): 238 calories, 7 g fat, 2 g sat. fat.1
  • Turkey, meat and skin (1 cup): 291 calories, 14 g fat, 4 g sat. fat.2

Skip the skin and opt-for an extra serving of nutrient-rich veggies, or if you must, use the saved fat & calories on the dessert you were going to eat anyway. You’ll net fewer total calories come end-of-day.


4. Load Up on Turkey

One cup of white meat turkey packs a whopping 42 g of muscle-building, metabolism-revving protein. It’s also low in fat and calories, helps reduce hunger levels, and contains the antioxidant selenium.

It’s the leanest thing on the table and makes for a fantastic Thanksgiving plate-space-clogger. Make it the centerpiece of your plate (and pray to the Thanksgiving gods that it’s not dry).


5. Go Dark, but Double Down on White Meat

We love dark meat. Eat it. But if you’re a dark meat fiend, follow this rule — your plate should always have 2x as much white meat as dark meat.

Dark meat is loaded with valuable nutrients—iron, potassium, B vitamins, and the antioxidant selenium—which earns it a much-deserved spot on any plate, but keep in mind that it has twice as much fat, sat. fat, and cholesterol. Plus it nets about 40 more calories per serving.

Make white meat your plate’s main staple, and then complement it with a side of the darker stuff.

  • Turkey, white meat (1 cup): 220 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g sat. fat, 10% iron, 64% selenium.3
  • Turkey, dark meat (1 cup): 262 calories, 10 g fat, 3 g sat. fat, 18% iron, 82% selenium4


6. Cut Down on Processed Applesauce and/or Cranberry Sauce

Their names start with “cranberry” and “apple,” respectively, but in reality they’re nothing more than a blend of concentrated sugar & high fructose corn syrup with a little bit of fruit flavoring mixed in.

Skip the processed store brands and make your own instead – it’s fresher, more nutritious, lower in sugar & calories, and lacks the artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and ingredients typical in Mott’s.

Between apples and cranberries and a little bit of uber-healthy cinnamon, natural variants of both sauces make for a perfect garnish to most-likely-dry turkey.


7. Go Green & Orange

Image: OhMyVeggies

Outside of turkey, green & orange veggies are your best bets at the Thanksgiving table.

Broccoli, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, squash, artichokes, spinach (not the creamed variety), etc. should fill up a large section your plate. They’re LOADED with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and for the most part they’re low in calories.

That said, aim for veggies that are grilled, baked, broiled, or steamed. Anything that’s buttered, marshmallowed, creamed, syruped, or casseroled is 99% likely to be a sugar-laced, healthified dessert.


8. Swap Yo Potatoes

When it comes to veggies, we love VIBRANT color. Be proactive and swap your mashed potatoes and baked white potatoes for sweet potatoes.

Mashed is potato code for “I’m loaded with butter and salt” and they’re effectively a black hole of empty calories — all fat and carbs with very little fiber, vitamins, or minerals.

Sweet potatoes pack over 375% DV for vitamin A, they’re high in fiber, and they digest slowly, which helps control insulin, blood sugar, and fat storage. Hop on it.


9. …and Then Swap to Yams

Most people don’t realize this, but sweet potatoes and yams are NOT the same vegetable.

Although sweet potatoes are higher in vitamin A and slightly lower in calories, sweet potatoes pack 6x the sugar per serving. Yams also have a negligible amount of sugar, more fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.



Chug as much water as possible. All day long. All throughout your meal. Don’t stop.

Water can help control hunger cravings, slow your eating at dinner, and help with digestion after you’ve inevitably crushed an entire table’s worth of food. Plus, it can help displace some of the apple cider and soda, both of which are insanely high in sugar.


Happy Thanksgiving! Stay lean out there.

Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Owner & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
Bryan DiSanto is the Owner & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a culinary student at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, an ACE-CPT & CSN, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness/nutrition nutjob.

He also contributes to Men's Health Magazine.

When he’s not working on his (or somebody else’s) abs, whipping up Eggocados, or running a Tough Mudder, he’s probably off yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.
Bryan DiSanto
Follow Lean It UP on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for real-time fitness/nutrition tips, advice, info and updates.


References, Notes, Links

  1. Nutrition Facts — Turkey, Meat Only []
  2. Nutrition Facts — Turkey, Meat & Skin []
  3. Nutrition Facts — White Meat []
  4. Nutrition Facts — Dark Meat []


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