Burning off a Holiday Meal: The Real Numbers

Avoid overeating this season by considering just how much exercise each bite translates to.


Photo by Anthony Tieuli / Food Styling by Jessica Weatherhead

The problem with holiday meals, of course, is that they’re too delicious for their own good. That’s why the average American gains five pounds this time of year. One suggestion to avoid overeating this season? Think about just how much exercise each bite translates to. Selected by Four Seasons executive chef Brooke Vosika and calibrated by Caroline Apovian, director of Boston Medical Center’s Nutrition and Weight Management Center, this feast shows what a typical person might consume during the holiday—and how much activity it would take to burn those calories off.



Fall greens with candied beets and cornbread croutons (3 oz., 120 cal.)
Pumpkin bisque (8 oz., 150 cal.)

Total calories: 270

How to burn it off: Shovel snow for 40 minutes.

Pumpkin bisque photo via Shutterstock



Wine (14 oz., 280 cal.)
Apple cider (12 oz., 180 cal.)
Peppermintini (4 oz., 330 cal.)
Eggnog (8 oz., 343 cal.)

Total calories: 1,133

How to burn it off: Row the Head of the Charles three times.




Martini photo via Shutterstock


Main Courses

Roast turkey (6 oz., 450 cal.)
Ham (4 oz., 138 cal.)
Sweet potatoes (1 cup, 400 cal.)
Mashed potatoes (1 cup, 210 cal.)
Giblet gravy (1 cup, 300 cal.)
Stuffing (1 cup, 400 cal.)
Roasted veggies (½ cup, 118 cal.)
Dinner roll with butter (155 cal.)

Total calories: 2,171

How to burn it off: Run the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon.


Holiday food photo via Shutterstock


Pecan pie (1 slice, 500 cal.)
Pumpkin pie à la mode (1 slice with 1 cup of ice cream, 470 cal.)
Coffee with cream and sugar (6 oz., 77 cal.)

Total calories: 1,047

How to burn it off: Walk up the Pru’s 52 flights six times.

Pecan Pie photo via Shutterstock

Whole Feast

Total calories: 4,621
How to burn it off: Ride the 11-mile Minuteman Bikeway 11 times.