How to Burn Off Thanksgiving Calories
December 5, 2017
Ready for a fact that you don’t want to hear? According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American consumes 4,500 calories over the course of Thanksgiving, with 3,000 of these coming from dinner alone. Given our recent breakdown of what you consume during Thanksgiving, this number shouldn’t be all that surprising. However, knowing how many calories you’re likely to consume shouldn’t take a toll on your enjoyment of the holiday.
Of course, the most efficient way to prevent the calories you’ll be taking in from having a negative effect on you would be to simply consume less. But there are still many other things that you can do. In this article, we’ll go over some ways to get rid of those Thanksgiving calories.
Intense weight loss exercises
The key to getting rid of calories, whether from Thanksgiving or otherwise, is simply to offset the amount that you take in with the amount you burn. Men’s Fitness content producer and on-camera personality Mike Simone posted a video/article combo on how to get rid of Thanksgiving dinner calories. This intense, all-day workout is a great way to burn calories, but it may be a little too much for the average person.
If 16 straight hours of working out isn’t your thing, or isn’t possible for you, the article linked above also links to some shorter, high-intensity workouts. Similarly, Daily Burn posted a very useful infographic for burning Thanksgiving calories. This infographic breaks down the caloric intake of everything that you’re likely to eat, and an exercise that will burn roughly that amount. Keep track of what you eat and reference the infographic to see what you need to do the next day.
Both of these exercises are built on the same principle: high-intensity. Once you are aware of this idea, you can apply it to almost any workout to increasing its efficiency. High-intensity workouts aim to do more in less time, with shorter rests in between. In 2015, TIME Magazine published an article citing high-intensity cardio workouts as the best way to lose weights through exercise.
Exercise smarter, not harder
Despite the assumptions made by Men’s Fitness, you don’t actually need to burn all of the Thanksgiving calories off on Black Friday (though a shopping trip may help). Instead, you can burn them off over time by simply increasing your normal exercise routine. If you don’t have an exercise routine right now but aren’t gaining weight, the same math will still work, though you should familiarize yourself with the benefits of exercise other than weight loss.
For simplicity, we’ll do the math for a person whose normal exercise is walking, and is set to burn about 500 calories a day. We’ll be using information from Live Strong to figure out how many calories they need to burn, and how many calories they can burn from Healthline.
This person is already set to burn a pound a week by walking for two hours a day at a pace of 3 miles an hour. They should have only consumed about 1,800 calories on Thanksgiving, so we’ll subtract that from 4,500, leaving them with a 2,700 calorie surplus to get rid of. Using the numbers from Healthline, they can burn this by walking an extra 10 hours over time.
You can apply this same math to your own workouts, but you do need to be careful about it. This article from Active breaks down the various factors that can affect Basal Metabolic Rate. The biggest of these are weight and height, which will affect how many calories you need in a day, how many you burn naturally, and how many a given exercise will help you burn.
Black Friday shopping, and other small things
If you go Black Friday shopping, it’s a great start to burning off those Thanksgiving calories. AZCentral broke down the various ways that shopping resembles exercise, including intense walking and weightlifting. While you may not burn off the full 4,500 calories, a full night of shopping can burn off a decent chunk of it—especially with your heart rate pumping in the rabid crowds.
Health.com provides a great list of other ways to get your metabolism going in preparation for Thanksgiving. In good news, a day of bingeing may actually do your body some good. As Health.com notes, consumption of too few calories in a day can actually trick your brain into thinking it’s starving, making it store more fat.