By ABC News’ David Zinczenko:
If you think about the latest financial advice you’ve received, it probably all sounds something like this: Stop buying lattes! Cancel cable! Live by candlelight and sleep in your coat! Seriously? When it comes to improving your financial situation, sure, you can spend less. But wouldn’t it be great if you could just earn more?
In a way, your belly is no different than your wallet. Practicing restraint is no fun, especially with the holidays upon us. The average American downs 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day — about 2,500 more calories than he or she does other days of the year. Wouldn’t it be great if you could bank enough caloric goodwill to simply erase those 4,500 calories from your waist, and linger at the table as long as you like?
Here are five painless ways to “pre-game” Thanksgiving. Try them for a week, and you can safely and easily bank 640+ calories per day in the seven days surrounding Turkey Day to make for a splurge that doesn’t inspire a purge.
Pull out your stretchy pants, kids!
1. Get Moving for 2.5 Minutes. The best way to earn more calories for turkey dinner is to increase your heart rate, and interval training has proved particularly beneficial. Research presented at the Integrative Biology of Exercise conference showed that people who did five 30-second bursts of max-effort cycling, followed by four minutes of rest, burned 200 extra calories that day. That’s just 2.5 minutes of work for a metabolism boost that will last 24 to 48 hours. Beginners may have difficulty maintaining the needed intensity for all 5 30-second bouts, so feel free to mix things up with your favorite cardio machine or hit the track. Consult your physician or trainer to make sure any workout plan is right for you. Calories earned for Thanksgiving Blowout: 200
2. Drink two cups. Research presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society showed that people who drank two cups of water before a meal wound up eating 75 to 90 calories less than they would otherwise. This may simply be because water is filling, but the added H20 may well be displacing calories otherwise spent on calorie-laden beverages. Calories earned for Thanksgiving Blowout: 225-270
3. Eat before you eat. A series of studies at Penn State showed that eating an appetizer of soup, salad or even an apple can reduce total calorie intake over the course of the meal by up to 20 percent. But make sure to choose wisely: Pick low-calorie, broth-based soups, and stick to mixed greens with a simple light dressing of oil and lemon or vinegar. This concept of Volumetrics, an eating plan focused on getting more mileage from eating low-density foods that leave you full, is based on a series of studies led by Dr. Barbara Rolls, a professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State and author of “The Volumetrics Eating Plan.” Calories earned for Thanksgiving Blowout: 134-187
4. Use the dessert plates. Guys, we have a plate problem. Over the course of the past 50 years, the average plate has grown from 9 inches in the 1960s to today’s 12. So what? Research printed in the journal Appetite found that, on average, people clean their plates 91 percent of the time, no matter how much food is on the plate and even if they are no longer hungry. Data from the study suggests that switching from a 12-inch plate to a 9-inch plate may help reduce caloric intake by up to 48 percent. I’ll take it! Calories earned for Thanksgiving Blowout: 275-350
5. Go to sleep 30 minutes earlier. Sleep deprivation has a profound effect on the way our brains respond to junk food. Even though we burn more calories while awake, researchers from the University of Colorado found that dieters consumed 6 percent more calories when they got too little sleep. For someone on a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s 120 calories. Not only that, lack of sleep actually alters fat cells’ biology, aging them over time. Sleep requirements vary per person, but studies suggest a basal need of seven to eight hours of sleep for most adults. Calories earned for Thanksgiving Blowout: 120.
David Zinczenko is ABC News Nutrition and Wellness Editor and the author of “Eat It to Beat It!” To discover more hidden sources of sugar, and how to lose weight by skipping other ingredients in our everyday food, check out “Eat It to Beat It!” here.