The Long Walk: Burning off Holiday Calories

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition
holiday turkey with vegetables

As a rule of weight loss, it’s better to control what you eat in the first place than to try to burn it off later with exercise. Why? Simple: eating is easy and exercising, for most of us, is hard. Plus, the amount of time it takes to eat a calorie bomb is usually a mere fraction of the amount of time it takes to burn it off. That’s a bad return on your time investment.

This is important to keep in mind, especially during this week of feasting. In order to motivate you to be mindful about what you’re eating, we’ve done the math for you. What follows is a list of a standard serving of a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, and how many calories they contain, followed by the amount of time you’ll need to spend walking at three miles per hour in order to burn the same number of calories. Keep in mind, that’s just the amount of exercise you need to break even. And if you’re on a weight loss program, you don’t want to break even—you want to move ahead.

A 150-pound woman burns about 230 calories walking three miles per hour, the pace of an average walker on pavement, on level ground. At that rate, here’s how long it will take you to burn off your Thanksgiving meal:

  • 8 ounces of dark meat turkey with skin: 424 calorie—1.8 hours (1 hour, 48 minutes) of walking
  • 1 cup of stuffing: 320 calories—1.4 hours (1:24)
  • 1 slice canned cranberry sauce: 86 calories—.4 hours (24 minutes)
  • 1 piece of cornbread: 173 calories—.75 hours (45 minutes)
  • 1 cup of green bean casserole: 160 calories—.7 hours (42 minutes)
  • 1 cup of mashed potatoes and ¼ cup of gravy: 443 calories—1.9 hours (1:54)
  • 1 heaping serving spoon of sweet potatoes and marshmallows: 609 calories—2.7 hours (2:42)
  • 1 glass of white wine: 122 calories—.5 hours (30 minutes)
  • 1 slice of pecan pie: 503 calories—2.2 hours (2:12)
  • 1 slice of pumpkin pie: 316 calories—1.4 hours (1:24)

Total: 3,157 calories—13.7 hours (13:42, 41 miles)

If you have seconds: 6,314—27.4 hours (27:24, 82 miles)

Lesson: Choose wisely.