The Best and Worst Thanksgiving Foods to Eat When Training for a Race

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and of course, food. But if you’re training for a marathon, you might be wondering what Thanksgiving foods will help or hinder your performance. Never fear, we’re here to help! Read on for the best and worst Thanksgiving foods to eat when training for a half or full marathon.

The Best:

  1. Roasted turkey – Lean protein is essential when training for a race, and roasted turkey is a great source of lean protein. It’s also low in calories and fat. Just be sure to avoid the skin, which is high in saturated fat.
  2. Green beans – Green beans are low in calories and a good source of fiber, both of which are important when training for a marathon. They’re also a great source of vitamins A and C.
  3. Sweet potatoes – Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, which are important for energy during long runs or races. They’re also rich in vitamins A and C, potassium, and beta-carotene. Just be sure to go easy on the toppings like marshmallows, brown sugar, and butter—all of which add extra calories and fat that you don’t need.
  4. Pumpkin pie – pumpkin pie is loaded with Vitamin A and fiber, both of which are important for runners. Just make sure to go easy on the whipped cream (or better yet, ditch it altogether).
  5. Water – Staying hydrated is key when training for any race—and that means drinking plenty of water throughout the day leading up to Thanksgiving dinner as well as during the meal itself. Add some lemon or lime slices to your water for an extra boost of flavor (and Vitamin C!).

The Worst:

  1. Fried foods – fried foods like turkey legs and fried chicken skin are loaded with unhealthy fat that will weigh you down during your runs. And let’s face it—they’re not exactly good for your heart health either.
  2. Gravy – Too much sodium can lead to bloating and dehydration, neither of which are ideal when training for a marathon.
  3. Mashed Potatoes – Just like gravy, mashed potatoes can also be very high in sodium. In addition, they’re typically made with whole milk and butter, which can add unwanted calories and fat to your diet.
  4. Pecan Pie – Pecan pie is loaded with sugar and fat, two things you should limit when training for a marathon. A single slice of pecan pie can have over 400 calories and 20 grams of fat!
  5. Alcohol – We know it’s tempting to indulge in a glass (or two) of wine at Thanksgiving dinner, but alcohol can cause dehydration and hinder your performance on race day.

With all the tempting food options available on Thanksgiving, it can be hard to stray from the marathon training diet.  And everyone should enjoy the holiday season.  So if you stray from the diet, don’t worry – just keep everything in moderation.  This is more of a friendly reminder that leaner cuts of meat, like turkey breast, complex carbs like sweet potatoes, and veggies are the healthiest options.  Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking water (not alcohol! Or maybe a little…) and you’ll be well on your way to crossing the finish line come race day. Bon appétit!

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