Minimize the damage of overeating with this seasonal diet strategy

By Marnie Soman Schwartz
Updated: March 09, 2015
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You know you're going to eat more than usual on Thanksgiving, and that's okay-it's just one day, and your day-to-day habits count way more than what you eat in one indulgent meal. But if you do want to minimize the negative effects of a calorie-laden holiday meal (or a few holiday meals… those leftovers aren't going to eat themselves), stick to higher protein foods, says Elizabeth Frost, of Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

Yep, we're telling you to dig in to that turkey! In her recent study, presented this month at The Obesity Society's annual meeting, Frost found that when you're eating a high protein diet, you burn more calories simply turning food into energy than you do when you're eating the same amount of calories from lower protein sources. (Unfortunately, she also found that the change in metabolism is temporary: Once you quit the plan, your rate of burn reverts back.)

Earlier research backs up this high-protein meal plan. A study from 2012 that found that when people overeat on a high-protein, low-carb diet, they store about half of it as fat and the other half as lean (i.e. muscle) tissue, while people on a low-protein diet store a whopping 95% of extra calories as fat. In Frost's study, low-protein dieters actually lost lean tissue mass as they gained extra weight. So this week (and this season) think about getting protein into all your meals and healthy snacks. It'll help with weight maintenance by curbing cravings, keeping you satiated, and boosting your metabolic burn. And if you do overeat, you'll store fewer extra calories as fat, which counts as a win in our book. (You should also try these 6 Moves To Boost Your Metabolism Before the Big Meal.)

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