Anatomy of a Holiday Pig-Out
A typical Thanksgiving meal contains more than 3,000 calories. What does it do to your body? Michele Meyer reports.
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The good news is that it takes 3,500 excess calories to gain a pound so you might escape from your holiday feast with little to show for it.
The bad news is that at least 40 percent of the excess calories you've eaten probably come from fat. Fat is the most calorically dense (nine calories a gram versus four for protein and carbohydrates), and it converts most easily into fat on your hips.
Your stomach and intestines burn off about 20 percent of the calories in the process of converting excess carbohydrates and proteins into fat. However, your body doesn't burn a single calorie when it is converting nutritional fat into body fat. Your small intestine simply dumps it straight into your bloodstream.
"If you eat 100 excess fat calories, most of the 100 are stored as fat," explains Franca Alphin, R.D., L.D.N., administrative director of Duke University Diet & Fitness Center. With 100 calories of excess carbs, about 20 go to fat storage.
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WHAT'S IN YOUR THANKSGIVING FEAST?
Mixed nuts and crackers, 289 calories, 23 g fat
Sour cream and spinach dip, 108 calories, 9 g fat
Small salad with dressing, 173 calories, 16 g fat
Dark and white turkey meat, 239 calories, 10 g fat
Herb stuffing, 292 calories,10 g fat
Cranberry sauce, 200 calories, 0 g fat
Gravy, 84 calories, 7 g fat
Sweet potato casserole, 309 calories, 9 g fat
Green beans almondine, 124 calories, 8 g fat
Cornbread with butter, 338 calories, 23 g fat
Two glasses white wine, 201 calories, 0 g fat
Pumpkin pie with whipped cream, 321 calories, 24 g fat
Pecan pie with whipped cream, 568 calories, 43 g fat
TOTAL: 3,246 calories, 182 g fat (50 percent of total calories come from fat).
Prepare for the Big Feast
You can minimize the damage with a little forward planning:
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Read on for tips on how to survive (and enjoy!) the holidays without gaining a pound.