How to enjoy a calorie neutral Christmas

Sports nutritionist Annie Simpson tells you how to make sure your winter fitness programme is not derailed by that last mince pie

by Annie Simpson   December 18, 2013  

Christmas Turkey - pic by Andrea Goh (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thebokeeffect/)

Whether you are training for a sportive or simply enjoy cycling for fitness, adopting a structured training regime alongside a healthy and varied diet is important. As we all know it is very easy to over indulge at Christmas, and before you know it the festive period may have left you with some unwanted pounds and you spend the whole of January desperately trying to lose it as the cycling season fast approaches.

So here's some useful information to help you get through a ‘Calorie-neutral Christmas’ or at least give you an idea of what is required if you do slightly overindulge this Christmas.

The Christmas dinner (around 900 kcal)

The Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) for how much we should eat states that an average man should consume around 2500 kcal per day and women around 2000 kcal a day to maintain weight. As you can see from this break-down, by taking average servings for your Christmas dinner you are already close to consuming 50% of your GDA on one plate, this doesn’t even include all the naughty festive treats and puddings that are probably still to come.

●      Roast turkey (4 thin slices) = 150kcal
●      Roast potatoes (3 medium) = 300kcal
●      Roast parsnips (2 serving spoons) = 43kcal
●      Cranberry sauce (2-3 teaspoons) = 40kcal
●      Carrots (2 serving spoons) = 13kcal
●      Sage & onion stuffing (medium portion) = 135kcal
●      Cocktail sausages (4) = 123kcal
●      Sprouts (2 serving spoons) = 40kcal
●      Bread sauce (medium portion) = 50kcal

Christmas dinner as a whole is not that bad for you. Turkey is one of the leanest meats available and a plate filled with vegetables is always great as you are ticking off some of your 5-a-day. However, you need to be careful with cooking methods, when roasting opt for olive oil as opposed to other fat. Where possible go with homemade condiments such as bread and cranberry sauce as these are generally healthier as you can avoid adding extra sugar. Be sensible with portion sizes, don’t eat with your eyes and pile it on your plate, chances are you will still eat it all. Start with smaller portions, as you will probably find them more than sufficient.

Let's check out some naughty festive treats and see how much cycling it takes to make them calorie-neutral:



Treat

Your body weight

To burn it off you will need to ride at 12-14 mph for

1 x mince pie = 190 kcal

60kg

25 minutes

 

75kg

20 minutes

 

Top Tip: When buying or making your own mince pies, always opt for an open-topped variety. Pastry is quite fatty, so using less will definitely help cut the calories.



Treat

Your body weight

To burn it off you will need to ride at 12-14 mph for

Large glass of red wine = 120 kcal

60kg

15 minutes

 

75kg

12 minutes

 

 

 

Pint of lager = 230 kcal

60kg

30 minutes

 

75kg

25 minutes

Top Tip: Drinking too much alcohol at Christmas will increase your appetite and may mess with your decision-making process. This means being able to say no to that extra serving of Christmas pudding probably isn't going to happen. If you want to drink it's better to opt for single spirits with slimline mixers, half pints, or dilute drinks down with soda. Alternating with non-alcoholic drinks should help you feel a bit fresher on Boxing Day and more likely to be ready and able to do some training.



Treat

Your body weight

To burn it off you will need to ride at 12-14 mph for

5 Quality Street or Celebrations = 200 kcal

60kg

25 minutes

 

75kg

20 minutes

 



Treat

Your body weight

To burn it off you will need to ride at 12-14 mph for

A handful of crisps (30g) = 150 kcal

60kg

20 minutes

 

75kg

15 minutes

Top Tip: When reaching for the dips this Christmas, go for tomato-based options such as salsa instead of creamy based dips like sour cream and chives. They are just as tasty but lower in calories.



Treat

Your body weight

To burn it off you will need to ride at 12-14 mph for

1 portion of Christmas pudding = 330 kcal

60kg

45 minutes

 

75kg

35 minutes

As you can see, when you settle down to watch a festive film or listen to the Queen's Speech and innocently tuck into a couple of handfuls of crisps, devour a few Quality Street or mince pies, and wash it down with a nice cold pint you could easily consume another 730 kcal on top of your Christmas dinner. 

Of course Christmas Day is just one day in 365 and for many the demands of their training/fitness regime are going to have to give a little on a day when people will have been cooking and preparing food and may not take too kindly to you not eating 'enough' of it it. Moderation is the word to bear in mind enjoy the day and don't fret too much about that extra mince pie, at least you now know what you'll have to do to work it off come Boxing Day and you've got the perfect excuse for a slightly longer than usual ride… or two.

A word of warning though, Christmas Day indulgence can be habit forming and it is quite easy for people to put on up to 7kg over the festive period, if these are kilograms of fat it will equate to something in the region of 53,000kcal, meaning you may have to ride for an additional 90 to 120 hours at 12-14 mph to lose these 7kg - that's quite a long bike ride.

You can find lots more detailed nutrition advice on Annies blog at www.otesports.co.uk/blog/
If you would like further information and nutrition advice on the best ways of balancing the demands of winter training and Christmas cheer 
don’t hesitate to contact the OTE team: thebunker@otesports.co.uk

32 user comments

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Food for thought (not actually a pun, that). Hmm. I'm vegetarian and tend to eat plenty of healthy stuff. Unfortunately my weaknesses are chocolate and booze, so Christmas is especially not a great time.

Having had a baby recently also quite severely curtails the potential for the long rides. I don't do much more than a 25 minute commute (each way) these days, which barely breaks me into a sweat. And I'm seeing the pounds creep on. Not good.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1091 posts]
18th December 2013 - 22:08

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It wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't eat the usual 8000 calories, plus all the extras over the following days!

I did fine burning it all off before I got into cycling so I can only be better off now. I'm certainly not going to calculate how long I need to be on the saddle.

posted by NorthEastJimmy [24 posts]
18th December 2013 - 22:09

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I will be eating Christmas dinner on the turbo trainer so that the calories are burned immediatly, avoiding any issues with weight gain.

@ Ghedebrav, do you use gears and a freewheel on your 25 minute commute? I used to commute a measly 5 miles on my fixed gear which took me about 13-16 minutes each way depending on how I was feeling on the day and my bike fittness has never been as good, before or since. I certainly sweated a bunch on those rides too, even in th cold.

posted by Matt eaton [395 posts]
18th December 2013 - 22:56

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A mince pie without a lid is not a mince pie!

posted by Topcat [20 posts]
18th December 2013 - 23:02

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The idea of restraining myself over xmas is to horrible to comprehend. I even get the 'special plate' with handles these days, I reckon I do 10000kcal even before the bottles of port. I will do a 50 miles on the bike and an hour run on xmas day though.

posted by ilovemytinbred [164 posts]
18th December 2013 - 23:05

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12-14mph is for grannies

What about those of us who are cycling at 20mph? - halve the time?

5'10 and 64Kg I have the skinny jean Smile

posted by kie7077 [453 posts]
18th December 2013 - 23:49

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12-14mph av? I didn't think road.cc did mountain biking.

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posted by William Black [196 posts]
19th December 2013 - 0:08

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I question these figures. Yes it might take 35 mins of cycling to consume 330 calories of energy, but this does not take into account the bodies recovery time. There has been a several studies showing the bodies energy consumption at night after vigorous exercise as it recovers. This should be factored in. Still I agree with the ideas behind the advice offered here

posted by wellcoordinated [76 posts]
19th December 2013 - 0:17

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It's a mince tart? Or a mince tartlet?

posted by wellcoordinated [76 posts]
19th December 2013 - 0:19

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SHIT! I just got back from a works Christmas meal.... bollocks! thank god it's going to be 10 miles into a strong head wind tomorrow. I'll have to gonhome via the hilly route too to burn all the stuff I've just eaten.. and drunk D Oh
.
Why does everything I like have to be so full of calories?

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [211 posts]
19th December 2013 - 0:48

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Believe it or not I find that even when you eat 8000 calories you don't ingest it all. You might come out of Christmas one or two pounds heavier but the rest mysteriously disappears about 24 hours after you stop over eating.

Your muscles are still there, just think of it as brimming the tank for the New Year.


Suffering from Low Cadence.

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posted by bikeboy76 [1254 posts]
19th December 2013 - 4:02

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To lose 7kg you need burn 53,000 calories.

But that means to have put on the 7kg in the first place you need to have consumed 53,000 MORE calories than your daily allowance.

That's 279 mince pies.

In which case, you probably have other problems.

posted by jb_ [7 posts]
19th December 2013 - 10:01

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Three words: festive five hundred.

posted by samwstraw [26 posts]
19th December 2013 - 10:02

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William Black wrote:
12-14mph av? I didn't think road.cc did mountain biking.

If the Annie Simpson that is the author of this article is The Annie Simpson - aka Little Simo - then I think it's highly likely that she could provide you with a less traditional Christmas dinner, like your arse on a plate perhaps Laughing

*Edit*

Yep, it's that Annie Simpson, who rides for Hope.

Like a boss.

posted by farrell [1406 posts]
19th December 2013 - 10:34

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Matt eaton wrote:
@ Ghedebrav, do you use gears and a freewheel on your 25 minute commute? I used to commute a measly 5 miles on my fixed gear which took me about 13-16 minutes each way depending on how I was feeling on the day and my bike fittness has never been as good, before or since. I certainly sweated a bunch on those rides too, even in th cold.

+1 on that - switched to a SS on my almost 6 mile each way daily commute 2 years ago & yep - u sweat snow on the ground wind howling rain beating.. on a SS u still sweat, add any elevation in and even more. lol it is strange how quickly u notice your in the mood or not days when u ride one too.

posted by bfslxo [118 posts]
19th December 2013 - 10:50

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Hi Annie I'm 47 my elite racing days are over (hand over the mince pies) Wave

posted by Roberj4 [193 posts]
19th December 2013 - 12:44

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It's colder so you burn more calories.

Just ride the festive 500 without a base layer.

Sorted.

Sir Velo

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posted by Raleigh [1728 posts]
19th December 2013 - 12:45

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jeez. eat, drink, relax, enjoy a break for the norm, and get back on the bike/turbo/treadmill mentally fresh, and a full tank, you'll soon burn off those cals.

posted by a_to_the_j [73 posts]
19th December 2013 - 14:21

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How about - relax and eat what you like, because actually you're not a pro cyclist who relies on winning bike races to feed your family? So it's probably fine to indulge for one week out of 52, actually... Cool

posted by Yennings [211 posts]
19th December 2013 - 15:01

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Fatbagman wrote:
Looks like I will be on the bike for about 15 hrs on boxing day.[/quote

Nice. Rolling On The Floor

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1058 posts]
19th December 2013 - 19:01

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remember, you are allowed the first 2000 kcals a day anyway. So even if you put away 5000 kcals on christmas day, to remain calorie neutral, you only actually need to burn 3000. There, that feels better, doesn't it?

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posted by dafyddp [148 posts]
19th December 2013 - 19:43

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dafyddp wrote:
remember, you are allowed the first 2000 kcals a day anyway. So even if you put away 5000 kcals on christmas day, to remain calorie neutral, you only actually need to burn 3000. There, that feels better, doesn't it?

But you have to burn 3,000 more than on a normal day. That's a lot of extra pedalling.

Thanks for the numbers Annie, they may help a little with the willpower. The only problem now is I'll never be able to eat a guilt-free mince pie again.... especially when I'm on the third one of the day and it's not yet lunchtime.

(yes, I'm afraid this does happen, and too often)

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posted by Simon E [1947 posts]
19th December 2013 - 23:37

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At 85kg, I'm clearly a lost cause, but on the up side, I can burn off the extra cals in less time than the 60kg waifs.

Mine's the mince pies with lids on please.

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posted by neildmoss [188 posts]
20th December 2013 - 9:57

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a_to_the_j wrote:
jeez. eat, drink, relax, enjoy a break for the norm, and get back on the bike/turbo/treadmill mentally fresh, and a full tank, you'll soon burn off those cals.

Hear hear, forcing yourselves into something uncomfortable will only make your brain want to binge and you'll end up going backwards.

I went from 83kg to 60kg within a year and didn't diet once, managed three helpings of xmas dinner last year and had a fabulous race season to boot.

Moderation is key, don't shock yourselves into something you're not used to.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

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posted by mooleur [542 posts]
20th December 2013 - 10:17

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farrell wrote:
William Black wrote:
12-14mph av? I didn't think road.cc did mountain biking.

If the Annie Simpson that is the author of this article is The Annie Simpson - aka Little Simo - then I think it's highly likely that she could provide you with a less traditional Christmas dinner, like your arse on a plate perhaps Laughing

*Edit*

Yep, it's that Annie Simpson, who rides for Hope.

Like a boss.

This made me smile Big Grin

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

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posted by mooleur [542 posts]
20th December 2013 - 10:18

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What Annie says makes perfect sense though. You are not doing any good by eating that much over the course of one day without doing anything in the way of exercise.

I'm a type 1 diabetic & it has always amazed me how much people overindulge over Christmas.

Personally I tend to ride over to my folks for Christmas dinner & then ride home later to at least burn off some of it.

Whenever I tell someone how many calories & carbs are in a mince pie they never believe me. Which shows how little people actually read the nutrition lists on food

posted by jimbocrimbo [35 posts]
20th December 2013 - 11:02

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I am a great believer in living a little at Christmas. This blog may be more relevant to some than others. If weight isn't an issue for you over Christmas then by all means enjoy. For some however it might be, especially for those targeting events early in the New Year (Cyclo-cross perhaps) and therefore I hope this simple blog helped.

posted by Annie Simpson [16 posts]
20th December 2013 - 17:26

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kie7077 wrote:
12-14mph is for grannies

What about those of us who are cycling at 20mph? - halve the time?

5'10 and 64Kg I have the skinny jean Smile

For someone of your weight riding at around 20mph, you will burn around 500 kcal in 30 minutes. So obviously it's going to take you less time to burn off the calories or allow you to eat more, which ever way you want to look at it Cool

posted by Annie Simpson [16 posts]
20th December 2013 - 17:32

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F**k it, it's Christmas. I've already eaten half the home made bourbon chocolate truffles plus the white chocolate & cranberry fudge. Luckily I have a week off work in January, so can get a few long rides in.

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posted by jayonabike [11 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 2:01

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Matt eaton wrote:

@ Ghedebrav, do you use gears and a freewheel on your 25 minute commute? I used to commute a measly 5 miles on my fixed gear which took me about 13-16 minutes each way depending on how I was feeling on the day and my bike fittness has never been as good, before or since. I certainly sweated a bunch on those rides too, even in th cold.

Yes, I do. It's also very stop-start, with twenty sets of traffic lights on the way - typically at least fourteen of these will be on red (in four years, only once have I gone through on green every time). If it was, e.g. a country commute over the same distance - roughly six miles - then no doubt I'd work up more of a sweat.

I'm considering getting a fixed-gear bike at some point next year, though.

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posted by Ghedebrav [1091 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 23:16

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