Twenty miles, almost a roundtrip run to Tullahoma, that’s the number of miles someone would have to run to burn off an average Thanksgiving meal.

That’s after factoring in a whopping 1,924 calorie Thanksgiving meal and the Runner’s World rule of thumb 100 calories per mile ran.

The figure 1,924 calories seems a bit excessive – being that 2,000 calories are generally used for a whole day’s about of food, but a simple breakdown of turkey day favorites (even using conservative portion estimates) adds up to major intake of food.

The Mayo Clinic states 3,500 calories is equivalent to one pound.




Roasted turkey is actually the bright spot on the holiday menu. White meat without skin is the leanest of all meats. At 185 calories a 4 oz. serving offers only 1.4 grams of fat and boasts 33 grams of protein. That figure climbs to 206 per 4 oz. for dark meat with skin and 256 for the wings. Four ounces of turkey is a serving about the size of a deck of cards.


Homemade Sweet Potato Casserole


Sweet potatoes are vitamin packed, naturally sweet, full of fiber and are pretty low in calories. But candy them with pecans and marshmallows and the sweet potato casserole tends look a bit less healthy.

My Fitness Pal website lists the homemade casserole as having 298 calories for a ½ cup serving, with 19 grams of fat, 50 grams of carbohydrates (28 grams are sugars) and 8 grams of protein. The bright side is that you’ll be getting a about twice the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A and a modest amount of potassium.


Stovetop Stuffing


Stovetop brings the carbs with the most recognized brand of stuffing/dressing. At 150 calories (prepared) for a 1/6 box, one serving of 28 grams consists of 21 grams of carbs. The rest is mostly protein at 4 grams and 1 gram of fat.

A closer look at 28 grams or 1/6 a box looks like a serving would be about ½ a cup, from what we could find on various nutrition websites.


Green bean casserole


Campbell Soup test kitchen’s Dorcas Reilly invented the green bean casserole in 1955. The soup-bean-fried onion dish, despite being crafted in a different culinary time, is a relatively healthy dish. One half a cup is 120 calories, 7 grams of fat, 10 grams carbs and just under 2 grams of protein. The down side is that a serving includes about 18 percent of the daily value of sodium.

If Thanksgiving meal weren’t carb-heavy enough, mashed potatoes, a dinner roll or two and some gravy for good measure will secure anyone’s food coma.

Mashed potatoes, at 119 calories per ½ cup, adds 18 grams of carbs. Add two rolls, at 160 calories each, and that tacks on 42 carbs. Finally the gravy offers a modest 3 grams of carbs for a scant 2 tablespoon serving.   


Pumpkin pie vs. pecan


While  taste preference of whether to have pumpkin or pecan pie is varied, calorie-wise, it’s a simple choice. A slice (1/8 of a nine-inch pie) is 323 calories for the pumpkin and 503 for pecan pie slice. Pumpkin is also rich in Vitamin A (if you passed on the sweet potatoes) and has about 6 percent of your daily recommended amount of potassium.

With a base of corn syrup, some variety of sugar or molasses, it’s little wonder that pecan pie with 63 grams of cards has 32 grams of sugars. That’s a pack and a half of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or about 7 teaspoons of granulated sugar.  The slice of pumpkin pie, though, has 46 grams of carbs and 25 grams of sugars.


Not all doom and gloom


Before it sounds like we’re suggesting skipping Thanksgiving altogether, note that weight change – gaining or losing – involves change over time. One study in the New England Journal of Medicine notes that while people perceive massive weight gain around the holidays, the average gain around the holidays among 165 participants was less than 1 pound. 

Bottom line, one rule of thumb suggests that people will gain 1/5 pound of body fat per 1,000 calories above their maintenance needs. Research suggests, however, that holiday weight gain is rarely lost during the summer months. 


John has been with the Manchester Times since May 2011. He covers Lifestyles in addition to handling education reporting and general news assignments.John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. John is a 1994 graduate of Tullahoma High School, a graduate of Motlow State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

Staff Writer

John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. He is a graduate of THS, Motlow and MTSU. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

Recommended for you