According to the British Dietetic Association, the average person will consume 6,000 kcals on Christmas day. But wait, there's more:
Over the festive period, which seems to kick off earlier and earlier every year, the average person could consume an extra 500 kcals per day, equating to a weight gain of around 5/7lb by the time we reach the beginning of the New Year.
The festive season is upon us, and that can only mean diet debauchery, abandoned fitness regimes and six-hour TV marathons. But it doesn't have to be this way. With a little forward planning and a smidgeon of self-discipline, it is perfectly possible to enjoy a happy Christmas and enter the New Year feeling fit, not fat.
"Many people fall off the exercise bandwagon at Christmas, or rule out the idea of getting into shape during the festive period, assuming there is no point in starting until the New Year. "But given that one of the biggest barriers to exercise is lack of time, a break from the usual routine can provide the ideal opportunity to begin or maintain physical activity." Staying active over Christmas not only reduces your chances of gaining weight, it also helps energise you, reduces stress and gives you a break.
Exercising first thing may entail getting up a little earlier than normal, but it does ensure that you get your workout done before other commitments and crises get in the way - and it will kickstart your metabolism for the rest of the day.
Workouts don't need to be long to be beneficial. "If you're prepared to work hard, you can fit a super workout into just a 30-minute window,". It's a trade-off between duration and intensity: most of you will now be aware that that 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training burned more calories than 40 minutes at a steady state. And if time is of the essence, you can even break down your daily exercise into short bouts rather than opt for one single prolonged session (research shows that activity bouts as short as 10 minutes are effective).
If an influx of family and visitors make it difficult to do your usual workout (say, a gym visit or a solitary run or bike ride), try to get everyone involved in something seasonal, like ice skating or a winter walk. has a programme of more than 300 walks nationwide between
You can rig the odds of getting guests outside in your favour by buying gifts that are just begging to be road tested. "Bikes, scooters, in-line skates, footballs and Frisbees are all good options,"
If you can't drag yourself - or anyone else - outdoors, look for indoor alternatives to slumping on the sofa. The ubiquitous Wii-Fit Plus - currently at the top of the UK gaming charts - offers a realm of opportunities for hitting virtual tennis balls and punching invisible targets without leaving the living room, Or there's always good old-fashioned Twister.
As far as timing is concerned, it's better to schedule activity in after eating, rather than before. Research shows that post-prandial exercise attenuates the glycaemic effect of food, minimising blood sugar spikes and dips and reducing the likelihood of further snacking later on. Gentle after-dinner activity also helps to support digestion a lot more than nodding off in an armchair does …
While it would be rather Scrooge-like to suggest that you forgo all treats and extras at Christmas, you can limit the damage by selecting your festive foods more carefully. "Try choosing healthier nibbles like pretzels, roasted chestnuts, unsalted nuts, dried fruits or satsumas instead of crisps and chocolate,". And think twice before you open your mouth. Do you really want it, or are you just eating it because it's there?
Starting Christmas day with breakfast is a wise idea. "You might be tempted to skip breakfast, but this is just likely to make you overindulge later on," she says. "Add festive fruits such as cranberries, dates and figs to your breakfast, to contribute towards your recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day."
Don't feel obliged to eat more than you normally would, just because it's Christmas. Turning down seconds doesn't mean you didn't enjoy your meal - it's just that you have had enough.
When the whole season is an excuse for celebration, those alcohol units can really mount up. Mulled wine on Christmas Eve, buck's fizz with breakfast, wine with dinner, Baileys, brandy … Keep tabs on how much you are drinking, and intersperse alcoholic drinks with water one for one is a great way to minimise that morning after headache.
"It's worth bearing in mind that it's not the amount you exercise and eat between Christmas and New Year that is the problem - it's what you do between New Year and Christmas that makes the real difference,"
'I'm going to start in the new year …'
For those of us who fully intend to shelve health and fitness resolutions until the New Year,
Be realistic. "If you wake up on 1 January with a hangover and a strong urge for a double espresso and a bacon sandwich, is this really the day to begin the 'first day of the rest of your life?' Start on the 2nd, instead, and use the 1st to finish up the stilton and the Quality Street and to clear the cupboards of any other tempting food that is not in keeping with your new regime!"
Set goals. "Spend some time formulating and writing down your health and fitness goals, ensuring they are challenging but realistic. Be positive and confident about your ability to achieve them."
Be patient. Fitness and weight loss don't happen overnight. That's why it is important to have a time frame for your goal. Set mini goals to work towards along the way - these give you something more immediate to aim for, and help you build confidence and faith in yourself.
Keep track. Keep a food and/or exercise diary to monitor your progress and help motivate you to stay focused on your goals.
Indulge with your friends and family but the key is to remain active, start the new year feeling fit not fat.