It’s that time of year: Pie season. Almost 20% of all pie eating in the U.S. occurs during the holidays, according to one report. That adds up to approximately 50 million pumpkin pies just at Thanksgiving, according to Nestle.
But if you’re training for a race or event, is it OK to indulge? Just this once? (Or twice?) We asked a few sports nutritionists who say stop fooling yourself but stop worrying about protein-to-carb ratios and — if you really want some — have a slice.
“Having a small piece of pie on occasion will not make a difference on your performance,” says Leslie Bonci, RD, a sports dietetics specialist and owner of Active Eating Advice. “In fact, if you deprive yourself of something you really enjoy, you may find that when you have that particular food, you end up over-consuming it and possibly other foods as well.”
If you’re worried about pie because you’re on a low-carb kick, you may want to rethink your eating plan. “Too many athletes tend to be carb-phobic. But they need carbs for energy — and glycogen is important for endurance energy,” says Dana White, RD, a sports dietitian and athletic trainer.
Granted, flaky crust and sugary filling are by no means recovery foods or something you should eat regularly. “A small slice of pie is anywhere from 200–400 calories,” Bonci says. “If you add in pie every day and don’t take out another food or increase your energy output through exercise, you will see your weight creep up.”
So if you’re going to have some apple pie, you may want to skip that glass of wine or go lighter on the mashed potatoes. Either way, pie isn’t all carbs, and many ingredients do have some health benefits.