To burn off that turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, the average American would have to run 28 miles — more than a marathon.
The average American consumes 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving: 3,000 from the meal itself and the rest from appetizers and drinks, according to a blog post by Sven Henrich, lead market strategist at NorthmanTrader, a market analysis firm. That’s twice the recommended daily intake of calories and three and a half times the recommended intake of fat.
The worst plate? Pecan pie with ice cream and whip cream, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, candied yams, cranberry sauce, stuffing and dark meat turkey with the skin still on, he says. In other words, pretty much every item on the menu. “The caloric intake on such a day can be absolutely brutal,” Henrich said.
To reverse Thanksgiving’s average caloric toll, you would need to walk 58 miles and burn 60 calories per mile. An alternative: Run 28 miles (a marathon is 26.2 miles), burning 125 calories a mile.
Henrich equated one cup of mashed potatoes to one mile of running; one cup of stuffing takes another two miles to undo. Four slices of roasted skinless turkey is 190 calories. A cup of green bean casserole is 143 calories. And one cup of carrot-raisin salad? That’s more than 400 calories, according to the Calorie Control Council.
Of course, there are ways to not overdo Thanksgiving. Controlling portion sizes helps. So does eating lower calorie foods, such as fish, days before and after the Thanksgiving feast, according to the Calorie Control Council. Henrich also suggests staying hydrated, burning calories through exercise before a big meal, and talking more at the dinner table, which would mean eating less. “Try to find a conscious balance that works for you,” Henrich said. “Know when enough is enough.”
The best option: Cook less — not only would that help guest’s waist lines, but it would avoid the 40% of food that goes uneaten all year around, according to Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council. A timely reminder for the holiday season: Americans throw away $165 billion in Thanksgiving meals every year.