Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and of course, food! If you’re training for a half marathon, you might be wondering what Thanksgiving foods will help—and hurt—your training. Never fear, we’re here to help. Here are the best and worst Thanksgiving foods to eat when training for a half marathon.

Best: Turkey

Turkey is one of the best Thanksgiving foods to eat when training for a half marathon because it’s packed with protein. Protein is essential for runners because it helps repair muscle tissue after a long run. Just be sure to go easy on the gravy—it’s loaded with calories and fat that can offset all the benefits of the turkey itself.

Worst: Macaroni & Cheese

Macaroni & cheese is usually made with butter and cheddar cheese, which are both high in saturated fat. So if you’re looking to keep your calorie intake in check, skip the pasta and go for something else instead. Trust us, your body will thank you come race day.

Best: Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is one of the best Thanksgiving foods to eat when training for a half marathon. Why? Because it’s packed with nutrients that will help your body recover from all those miles. Plus, the tartness of cranberry sauce can help fight inflammation. Just be sure to go for the homemade stuff—the processed stuff is loaded with sugar and won’t do you any favors come race day.

Worst: Stuffing

Stuffing might be delicious, but it’s not exactly runner-friendly. Why? Because it’s usually made with white bread, which is high on the glycemic index and can cause spikes in blood sugar levels. That’s not exactly ideal when you’re trying to train for a long-distance race. So if you’re looking to load up on carbs this Thanksgiving, go for something else instead—like sweet potatoes or squash.

Best: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are another great option for runners. They’re full of complex carbohydrates, which are essential for energy production during long runs. They’re also rich in potassium, an electrolyte that helps prevent cramping.

Worst: Alcohol

Alcoholic drinks can contribute empty calories and promote dehydration (not to mention hinder your recovery). So if you’re looking to stay in top shape for your half marathon, it’s best to keep the drinks to a minimum (and be sure to continue drinking lots of water to stay hydrated).

Best: Fruit Salad

A fruit salad is a great way to get your daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals. And, since fruit is high in water content, it can also help keep you hydrated during your race. Just be sure to avoid any fruits that are high in sugar, as they can give you an energy crash mid-race. 

Worst: Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole is usually made with cream of mushroom soup, which is high in sodium and can dehydrate you during those long training runs. 

 

This Thanksgiving, don’t let all those delicious holiday foods derail your training! By sticking to lean proteins like turkey and complex carbs like sweet potatoes, as well as healthy fats found in cranberry sauce and nuts, you’ll be sure to enjoy a delicious AND nutritious meal that will help improve your performance come race day! And most importantly, have fun! After all, it is the holidays!