Thanksgiving Nutrition: Tips & Tricks To Meet Your Goals!

We all need to plan our nutrition accordingly to continue to meet our health and fitness goals, especially during Thanksgiving time. Find some great ideas here!

What in the world should we eat on Thanksgiving? I think this all depends on what our goals in fitness are. If our goals are to gain size, maintain size, or lose some size in the form of body fat, then we should plan accordingly.

Whether into competitive bodybuilding, powerlifting, or other sports and athletics, we should have some clear idea of how to eat to be able to achieve our best performances in the gym or on the field.

Whatever our goals are, we should have a clear and precise game plan that we can execute properly in order to achieve our desired results. Many times we have tried to eat the wrong ways for our goals and become frustrated in being unable to see and feel desired results.

If we have a plan for our type of sport and/or body-type we want to achieve, then we can better troubleshoot tricky eating times such as Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving should be a time of thanks and a time of laughter with family and friends, but there is always a huge amount of food around along with that bird.

Read below for ideas and tips to find out how we should best pick and choose our foods according to our goals.

Bulking up, Adding Size and Mass, and Weight Gain

If you are bulking up and trying to add some much-needed mass, then you need to know that you cannot add a lot of muscle size without adding a tiny bit of fat at the same time.

When we are in mass-gaining mode, we need to think about eating a large quantity of healthy proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and in doing so we have to sacrifice a bit of muscle definition. I am not saying you have to gain a huge gut, but you need to feel comfortable with a little soft covering and blurring over the abdominals.

Right now I am coming off of a mass-gaining cycle, so I am slowly trying to sharpen up and expose some muscle detail once again. Since this is so, my goals have gone from size-gaining to fat-loss. You will see below how I will need to adjust my eating accordingly.

Eat lots of veggies and lots of lean meats, which are less fattening but big on protein. Eggs are always great!
Eat lots of veggies and lots of lean meats, which are less fattening but big on protein. Eggs are always great!

Here are some tips on how to eat during Thanksgiving if you are on a mass-gaining and bulking cycle:

  • Eat heavy and fill up, but do not gorge yourself. Maxing out the digestive system could lead to digestive and gastrointestinal discomfort, especially with a high fat intake.
  • Eat lots of veggies and lots of lean meats, which are less fattening but big on protein. Eggs are always great!
  • Eat a medium amount of carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice, pastas, and breads, and try to eat more of the meats and veggies.
  • Dairy is okay, but make it low-fat milk, cheeses, and yogurts.
  • If possible, complete a massive mass workout prior to the meal, so your body can sit down, get refueled, and replenish muscles.
  • If you are going to be eating fats, make sure you choose the monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats instead of the unhealthy saturated fats.

Maintaining Your Weight

To be able to maintain your current weight, which should be a lower body-fat level with muscle definition present, you should adhere to the following tips:

  • Stay away from heavy and thick sauces and creams.
  • Try to limit red meat to small amounts and choose white meats such as chicken and turkey over the beef.
  • Opt for small amounts of low-fat milk, cheeses, and yogurts.
  • Get plenty of your vegetables and medium amounts of fruits.
  • Limit desserts such as pies, cookies, pastries, and ice cream to a minimum.
  • If you choose any carbs, choose the whole-grain and whole-wheat versions of breads and pastas, and for potatoes stick to sweet potatoes and red potatoes. For rice, stick to brown rice.
  • Keep the alcohol to a minimum and drink water whenever possible.
  • If anything is glazed, remember sugar is present, so practice moderation.

Fat Or Weight Loss

We get so caught up in calorie counting and what is the right or wrong low-calorie or low-sugar food item to put into our mouths that we forget about the simple, healthy choices.

Thanksgiving is a holiday. I tell my clients that, in my opinion, they need to splurge a little on the holidays. How do they do that? They need to plan for the holiday meals by being as good as possible prior to the holiday day, and then splurge on the day of the holiday.

What if they do not want to, or have a hard time eating clean and healthy prior to the holiday? Then I give them some healthy options such as sticking to the lean meats and low-calorie and low-starch (if late in the evening) vegetables. We all need to remember moderation is also very important! Remember to wash all the healthy stuff down with good fresh water if possible!

When losing body fat. I believe we really need to stay away from sugars (some fruits are the exception) most of the time. If someone says the sugar-free stuff is better, then I disagree because normally the sugar-free stuff is something processed that our body does not need or rejects anyway.

I believe that, when we eat sugar substitutes, we are falsely attempting to satisfy a craving. When we do not really satisfy a craving for sugar the right way, we usually end up wanting more—and even worse the next time. We need to be eating for maximum performance, not just for the sake of saying we are eating low-calorie foods or sugar-free stuff.

Our bodies can take a little bit of sugar, but we really are asking for trouble when it comes to gaining body fat when we overdo it!

Sugar, if eaten in even small amounts, such as from fruits or sugar in coffee, should be consumed in the early parts of the day. The reason for consuming the sugar earlier in the day is so we can have the rest of the day to have it burned off by being used as fuel for moving our bodies in exercise or normal activity.

Sugar, if eaten in even small amounts, such as from fruits or sugar in coffee, should be consumed in the early parts of the day.
Sugar, if eaten in even small amounts, such as from fruits or sugar in coffee, should be consumed in the early parts of the day.

Shown above is a list of healthy items and not-so-healthy items, for those of us who want to eat clean and healthy on Thanksgiving Day without cheating or straying from our diet.


Try to stick to your guns and follow your goals and game plan. If you are bulking, remember to fill up on the healthy and not-so-saturated-fat stuff.

If you are maintaining weight, remember to keep the carbs to a minimum, and make sure they are healthy high-fiber complex carbohydrates.

When it comes to those of us who are trying to shed the body fat, we need to remember no starchy carbohydrates or starchy veggies, no saturated fats or sugars, and really eat a moderate amount of the good lean meats and veggies.

If those of us on the fat-loss plan mess up and splurge on the Thanksgiving Day meal and leftovers, then it is okay! We need to just work extra-hard the next few days afterward, when performing our workouts and returning to our healthy eating plans. Good luck, and have a great Thanksgiving!