Burning Off That Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving meals weigh in at 4,500 calories on average

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Feeling more stuffed than the turkey you ate entirely too much of on Thanksgiving? You're not alone, and you're not without ways to burn off some of those calories.

No need for despair if you blew your diet goals with your holiday meal — just throw in a little extra exercise.

Holiday weight gain is no joke. A past study in Nutrition Reviews found that weight gained around the holidays accounted for about 51 percent of the weight people gained in a year on average.

And Thanksgiving likely shares some of the blame. The average US Thanksgiving meal weighs in at a whopping 4,500 calories and more than 200 grams of fat, says the Calorie Control Council. And, according to the Mayo Clinic, a pound of fat is equal to about 3,500 calories.

You did that math right — your Thanksgiving meal is equal to more than a pound of body fat. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean you gain a pound after you eat the meal — tons of other factors play into weight gain. Still, that many calories in one sitting can add to your weight.

But some exercise can offset that calorie binge. Thinking of playing a little backyard football or shooting some hoops in the driveway? Don't hesitate. According to CoachUp, you'd have to play football or basketball for 7.7 hours to burn off 4,500 calories.

Don't do any exercise for seven hours straight — that's unhealthy. But adding some extra exercise can still offset the calorie influx you had on Thanksgiving. The Mayo Clinic reports that a healthy amount of exercise is about 150 minutes a week of moderate cardio (or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio) and strength training (like lifting weights) twice a week.

Even if you're eager to get out there and burn off that Thanksgiving meal, don't forget to ask your doctor before you start a new exercise program.

Review Date: 
November 26, 2014
Last Updated:
November 30, 2014