Fueling on Thanksgiving

Are you stressed about fueling this Thanksgiving? Want to stay on track with your fueling plan but also celebrate? Athletes in our Sports Nutrition Coaching Program (the Performance Fueling Club) came to me with questions and concerns about the upcoming US holiday this week. They were worried Thanksgiving dinner would be “detrimental” to their goals. 

First of all, this is not true! Thanksgiving with family/friends/teammates will not result in missing your performance goals. But there is a smart way to approach it! 


Here are three simple and easy sports nutrition tips I shared in this week’s athlete’s sessions. After our talk, our athletes felt confident and understood how to fuel going into Thanksgiving. I wanted to share them with you so you can feel the same! 

1. My first tip is to remember that you are an athlete and you should fuel like one!

No skipping meals to have a “huge Thanksgiving meal”. Fueling with full meals throughout the day and practicing the Performance Plate Method will ensure getting in the six essential nutrients throughout the day. If you train the morning of Thanksgiving, you still need to fuel like the athlete you are! My Sports RD recommendation is three meals with lean protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fruit/veggies. 

Don’t skip meals or fueling yourself to “save up”. This will leave you under-fueled and with poor energy levels on the field! Many RBSN athletes have games or a tournament the weekend after Thanksgiving. You don’t want to be under-fueled going into the weekend.

2. Don’t skip post-workout fuel!

Post-workout fuel is critical in the recovery and repair of the muscles after training. You want a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein to maximize muscle protein synthesis and recovery. As an elite athlete training daily, your body needs to take advantage of the post-training re-building period. Don’t skip fueling during this important time to save up for dessert or Thanksgiving foods later.

3. Spread out your nutrients throughout the day.

Ensuring you are getting all six essential nutrients is important. You can prioritize different nutrients throughout the day so you can still fuel properly and enjoy your dinner!

As I mentioned above, you should fuel with carbohydrates and protein around your workouts to maximize muscle protein synthesis, increase energy availability, and expedite recovery.

So carbohydrates and protein around your training and likely lots of carbohydrates and protein at Thanksgiving dinner. This might sound scary but it doesn’t have to be! Carbohydrates and protein are two essential nutrients that are extremely important for athletes. These nutrients should be incorporated into every meal. 

Below I have a sample timeline of what your Thanksgiving Day may look like. This isn’t a blueprint, it is just to help you get ideas on how to format your fueling on this holiday.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries and eggs as you watch the parade.

Snack: 2 cheese sticks, pretzels, and a veggie of choice

Lunch: Salmon, squash, and rice bowl.

Pre-training Snack: PB+J and a banana

Dinner: Performance Plate Dinner and your favorite pie!

You may notice I have a pre-training snack in this timeline. This does not mean that you have to train on a day like Thanksgiving. You are doing nothing wrong if you choose to have Thanksgiving as a day for family and to relax, that is what the holidays are for! 

If you aren’t training, I STILL recommend the snack, just make it more like the one earlier in the day that has a carbohydrate paired with a protein or fat. If you decide to train or are active with your family on the holidays, I recommend keeping the snack focus on carbohydrates. 

As you can see, fueling on Thanksgiving doesn’t need to be hard!

If you have more questions about fueling or are concerned about fueling over the holidays, apply for sports nutrition coaching today! I help elite athletes and active women maximize their performance with easy and simple nutrition. I help you with the basics, hydration, game day fueling, cycle syncing, and more! 

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