Between the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, and four kinds of pie, Thanksgiving presents a host of challenges to a “clean” eater. We’re here to make sure that you don’t undo months of hard work in one sitting.
By using a few scientifically proven strategies on Thanksgiving, you’ll actually boost metabolism, increase fat burn, and make sure that the nutrients you shovel down during dinner go toward building muscle, not gaining fat. Follow our game plan to enjoy your holiday, eat guilt-free, and avoid unnecessary fat gains.
6-8 a.m.: Drink a tall glass of water
After you wake up, you’re dehydrated because you haven’t drank water in for hours. This hurts fat loss because your metabolism slows down to conserve fluids—even if you lose just 1% of your bodyweight in water, your physical performance will decline, according to this 2007 study.
Drink a tall glass of water after you wake up to rehydrate and keep your metabolism at optimal levels. In a 2003 study from The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, German researchers also found that drinking two cups of water increased metabolism by 30% after 30–40 minutes.
6-8 a.m.: Sip black coffee or green tea
Coffee and green tea provide caffeine, which is a proven appettite suppressant. Furthermore, in 2008, British researchers concluded that green tea improves insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, enhancing your body’s ability to shuttle nutrients favorably between muscle and fat mass.
6-8 a.m.: Skip breakfast
By skipping breakfast, you’ll continue your fast, which, according to this 2005 study, will elevate your insulin sensitivity and help you burn more fat.
10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Stay hydrated
Again, drink more water, coffee, or green tea to keep your metabolism at optimal levels, and reduce any hunger pangs that may come from intermittent fasting.
2-4 p.m.: Work out
By doing an intense workout before Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll create a huge metabolic demand and ensure that your calories will go toward replenishing your energy stores, stopping muscle damage, and fueling muscle repair and growth. Instead of traditional strength programs with low reps and long rest periods, follow a program that blends heavy weights, short rest periods, and a lot of volume.
The pre-Thanksgiving workout
Do as many rounds as possible in 25 minutes. Use your 10-rep max for each exercise.
A1) Front Squat
A2) Dumbbell Bench Press
A5) Hang Power Cleans
But won’t it be bad to train without food? Not necessarily. This 2010 Journal of Physiology study found that training in a fasted state improves glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and muscular adaptations. If you’re hungry before your workout, follow the next step.
2-4 p.m.: Take BCAAs
Taking branched-chain amino acids before and during your workout will give you fuel to power through an intense workout without food. Also, because BCAAs have no carbohydrates, it’ll prevent any insulin spikes that could negate the effects of your fast.
By the time Thanksgiving dinner arrives, you’ve successfully depleted your glycogen levels, your muscles are hungry for carbs and protein to recover and grow, and you’re ready to eat like a madman. Pack your plate with plenty of meat, watch how much sauce/gravy you add to your meal, and go easy on the alcohol. Other than that, eat till your heart’s content and enjoy the party.