AUSTIN, Texas — Thanksgiving in Austin means one thing: the annual Turkey Trot.
Frequently, people will view food-focused holidays as a means to restrict their food intake or to become worried about "burning off" their calories to make up for the excess food.
This mindset is applied to traditions like the Turkey Trot, a running event that Austinities have participated in for years. The turkey Trot is a five-mile run or one-mile walk around the Long Center in Downtown Austin. For the last 32 years, residents and travelers alike have participated in this early-morning event on Thanksgiving to "burn off their calories" before the eating sets in.
The harm with this mindset is that the human body physically cannot burn off a large amount of calories in one bout of regular exercise. For example, if you were to consume an extra 1,000 calories over your normal caloric intake, you would have to run for over two hours to make up for it.
The number of calories people burn when exercising depends on a myriad of factors, including your current body size, sex assigned at birth, muscle mass and your basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories your body needs to just maintain your organs).
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE) calculator, you can see how long it would take based on a formula to burn any number of calories based on weight. It should be cautioned that it is only a formula, and not a one-size-fits-all science.
A majority of the time, when it comes to consistent "burning of calories," being consistent with food habits and exercise is the golden rule. A study out of Cambridge University found that a balance between non-exercise activity and diet, in addition to normal exercise, was the standard when it comes to maintaining normal life habits.
The end all be all when it comes to the science of weight loss, if that is your goal, is to progressively lose weight over a period of weeks. The normal goal that dieticians and exercise scientists recommend is between half a pound and a pound of weight a week. This would result in a caloric deficit, or decrease, range of 3,500 a week because one pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories.
At the end of the day on Thanksgiving, eating the amount of food you want will not make or break your diet. Furthermore, dietitians recommend not talking about how people look or the amount that they are eating.
If you or someone you know is suffering with an eating disorder or are in need of help, the The National Eating Disorder Association has a hotline (1-800-931-2237) for people to call. Additionally, the National Suicide Hotline number is 988 for those in need.
If you are struggling with disordered eating, the National Disorder Association has created a guide on how to navigate the holidays, which can be viewed here.