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3 Thanksgiving Health Tips to Prevent Weight Gain

Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CN

Today, I want to share with you my Thanksgiving health tips, specifically on how to not gain 10 pounds on Thanksgiving!

Now, has anyone ever really gained 10 pounds on Thanksgiving day? I doubt it, but you know what, there have been quite a few people who have been close, so I want to share with you my secret today on how to not gain a lot of weight on this festive Thursday.

While I haven’t seen anyone actually gain 10 pounds on Thanksgiving day specifically, I have seen people gain 10 pounds over a 30-day period between Thanksgiving and Christmas! You don’t want to be that person, so let me share with you my top secrets and tips for not gaining holiday weight.

Related: 5 Benefits of Unplugging for the Holidays + 5 Tips

3 Important Thanksgiving Health Tips

1. Get Active

The No. 1 Thanksgiving health tip I would recommend you do, first thing Thanksgiving morning, is get outside and get active. Even if it’s snowing in your area, getting outside for 20 minutes is a great thing to do — or if you can’t do that, do a 20-minute burst training workout.

If you don’t have 20 minutes, even five minutes can help you keep that weight off. So make sure on Thanksgiving morning to wake up and get active, whether that’s taking a walk outside or a 20-minute BurstFit routine. That’s going to help you keep weight off Thanksgiving morning.

In addition to your morning workout, get outside and do something active during the day.

One of the things we’ve done in my family for years is we get out and we play a little bit of 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 football for an hour or so, both men and women. We love doing it.

Getting outside and creating a fun family tradition like that — maybe some backyard football — is a great way to have a lot of fun, follow some great tradition and, at the same time, work to not pack on the pounds from some of those extra calories you’re probably consuming Thanksgiving day.

2. Focus on Protein

Another one of my Thanksgiving health tips when you’re trying to lose weight or just keep the weight off these holidays is to focus on more good, quality protein foods.

Turkey is amazing. It’s full of tryptophan, protein and other amino acids that can really support your immune system, which can help improve your mood.

There are a lot healthy benefits of turkey so when you’re loading up that plate Thanksgiving Day, pack on the turkey. For instance, in addition to providing protein with fewer calories and less fat than beef and the tryptophan that helps the body make niacin and serotonin — which helps your mood — turkey contains selenium, phosphorus and B vitamins.

Selenium benefits include its role as a powerful antioxidant that regulates thyroid hormone metabolism and reproduction. With almost half of the daily recommended value of selenium in a serving, turkey is an excellent selenium source.

As a food high in phosphorus, turkey also helps the body make protein and use carbs and fats, thus helping prevent weight gain. Throw in the beneficial B vitamin content — namely niacin, vitamin B6 and riboflavin — and turkey also benefits digestion, brain development, immunity, metabolism and red blood cell production.

So have the turkey piled high, go easy on the gravy, go easy on the stuffing, and add lots of turkey and then lots of good vegetables to your Thanksgiving plate. If you can get some good protein in there — even things like deviled eggs that you can make as healthier options — that’s one of the best Thanksgiving health tips I can offer.

So again, I highly recommend loading up on the turkey if you want to keep the weight off here Thanksgiving day. Plus, as an added benefit, you can make so many healthy, delicious leftover turkey recipes that help limit weight gain and keep those pants from getting too tight!

3. Monitor Your Meals