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Two pounds. That's how much adults gain, on average, after Thanksgiving.
Not too bad, you might be thinking, considering the free pass you give yourself to just go for it. (And by “it,” we mean all the gravy-soaked turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, buttery rolls and marshmallow-smothered sweet potato casserole you can possibly fit onto your plate.)
But here's the thing: Those 2 pounds may seem harmless enough, but the older you get, the harder it becomes to lose weight. Two pounds here and there can quickly add up.
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Are carbohydrates — arguably, the most maligned source of calories — the culprit?
"They can be,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, a Denver-based registered dietitian and author of Skinny Liver, who notes that it depends on which kind of carb you're talking about.
As any nutritionist will tell you, not all carbs are created equal. Simple carbohydrates — the kind found in candy, soda and sugar — are digested quickly and send immediate bursts of glucose into the bloodstream.
Complex carbs, on the other hand, are found in starchy vegetables and whole grains, and are digested more slowly. It may be easy enough to focus on the smart, complex kind most days of the year, but at Thanksgiving, even good-for-you carbs like sweet potatoes can go from healthy to unhealthy faster than you can say “casserole with-marshmallows.”
"The bulk of the carbs on the Thanksgiving table are white rolls and stuffing,” Kirkpatrick says. “And even the complex carbs like sweet potatoes are either loaded with sugar or, in the case of white potatoes, too high on the glycemic index. This can cause a rapid rise and fall of blood sugar and actually cause you to overeat."
But no one's suggesting you go no-carb at Thanksgiving. You can still have your pumpkin pie and eat it, too — without gaining a pound. Here's how.