Sticking to your diet during the holidays is hard. We all want to celebrate with loved ones and it may be the only chance you get all year to have some of Aunt Rickie’s famous Holiday Mashed Potatoes. And sometimes it’s hard to say ‘just no’ when everyone around you is shoveling food in like a bear preparing to hibernate for the winter and constantly asking why you aren’t doing the same. Inevitably, sticking to your diet during the holidays can make you feel like a crazed fitness extremist… or maybe that’s just me.

Last week, Jimmy laid out a great plan to enjoy holiday meals without completely ruining all of the hard work you’ve put in throughout the year. If you haven’t read that yet, check it out here. I have used this plan with great success the last two years and I’d like to share some of the food items that help me keep the calories, fats, and carbs down during the day so that I can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. You could make it through the day on veggies, protein shakes, and chicken breast, but here are some alternatives that can be a little more enjoyable.

These items are easy to find at the grocery store or Target, and even most convenience stores. They are also all basically “heat and eat” which makes them great if you’re staying at a hotel, are someone’s house guest, or need to feed yourself during a day of plane travel. My father-in-law is an excellent chef and my mother-in-law is an outstanding baker, so I pretty much live off of protein shakes and low fat lunch meat while visiting for Christmas.


Muscle Milk ready to drink protein shakes come in a few different sizes and can usually be purchased individually in the refrigerated section or in packs of 4 on the aisle with the protein bars and “diet” stuff.

The amount of protein varies by size and flavor, but it’s about 20 grams. Fat and carb content also varies, but usually around 7-8 grams each. I personally like the Chocolate and Banana Creme flavors. For those of you with food allergies, these are lactose and gluten free.


Okay, I know what you’re thinking, and no, turkey jerky isn’t better for you. It actually has the same nutritional information if you compare it to the beef version of the same flavor, so eat whichever one you prefer.

The “Original” flavor has the best protein to carb ratio, at 13 grams of protein per serving and 6 grams of carbs. Most of the other flavors have a little less protein.


Yes, hot dogs. These are low fat and you can eat a lot of them, so you feel full. These puppies have 1 gram of fat and 2 carbs per frank, but also only 6 grams of protein which means a meal is about 4 franks, depending on your protein needs.   


Even though the goal may be to horde carbs for dinner and dessert, you do want to eat some carbs at breakfast. These waffles are easy, have a little fiber, and even taste good even without butter or syrup. Two waffles is only 6 grams of fat and 30 grams of carbs. Eggo also makes a low-fat plain Nutri-Grain waffle with only 2.5 grams of fat and 27 grams of carbs per serving.


If waffles aren’t your thing, or you want to keep your fiber numbers on track, the Thin Sliced Power Seed bread is a great choice. Once slice is only 1 gram of fat, 11 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of protein; plus it has 3 grams of fiber! This bread is great for toast, making a sandwich with low fat lunch meat (Applegate Farms is a great choice), or as buns for your lean hot dogs.


As the name implies, these dressings are made with Greek yogurt, which contains less than half the fat of regular creamy dressing. These dressings are refrigerated and usually found in the produce section.

Personally, I enjoy ranch or bleu cheese for dipping my carrots, celery, broccoli, and red/yellow/green peppers. Two tablespoons of the ranch dressing is only 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein. Veggies and Greek yogurt dip is a great way to pack in some low calorie, high volume foods to help feel satisfied.


Sugar free Jell-o can be a real diet saver when trying to hold out for a big meal or as an everyday filler when you’re trying to shed some body fat. The snack cups are only 10 calories per cup and have 1 gram of protein, but this also means that have no nutritional value. You certainly can’t live off of sugar free Jell-o, but it can help satisfy a sweet craving and provide some low calorie filler.

Example Day

Here’s an example of how all of these items could fit together and leave room for that special dinner. This example is assuming an 1,800 calorie daily goal, which is low for more active males so adjust accordingly for gender and activity level. Looking at the total calories at the bottom of the table, this leaves just shy of 1,000 calories left to eat at dinner.

For more information and a detailed presentation of nutrition strategies for a successful diet make sure you attend the free nutrition seminar this weekend register HERE.

[The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Progressive Performance. The author, Jimmy McCurry, and Progressive Performance have not received any compensation from the manufacturers of these products.]

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