christmas fitness tips

How To Stay Fit and Healthy Over Christmas

By Danny Webber
Danny Webber is a SENr registered practitioner, an ISAK certified Anthropometrist and a UK Anti-Doping accredited adviser.
| Updated on January 6, 2023

Christmas is a time to relax, spend time with loved ones, and most importantly enjoy some great food and tipple of your choice! But athletes and other fitness fanatics, want to stay in shape over Christmas. This is a very exciting time of year and people typically indulge a bit too much, which then leads to an attempt to ‘detox’ and go on a health kick in the new year.

Instead, you can actually make small changes that can significantly reduce the amount of calories you eat and drink over Christmas, so you feel a bit less guilty and still enjoy a party!

If this is you then keep reading, as I’m going to share some very simple and effective Christmas fitness tips on how to stay fit during the holidays!

Christmas Diet Tips

How you plan your Christmas diet over the festive period is entirely up to you, whether you enjoy a 1-2 week binge, or a bit of indulgence in moderation so you don’t feel you need to diet a bit harder than normal come the New Year. Athletes should follow the latter whilst being able to enjoy their food a bit more than normal over Christmas guilt-free.

Putting on a little bit of weight over the Christmas period is normal, but this does NOT directly equate to gains in body fat. You’re eating a great volume of food, particularly more carbohydrates, salt, fiber, drinking more fluids, etc, which will take longer to digest and sit in the gut, and will be stored within the muscles and liver as glycogen. Yes, the scales will likely say you’re heavier and you will probably feel a bit more sluggish, but 1 day of overeating will not result in increased body fat.

Doing this over a period of time is much more likely to be a cause of increased body fat. 

“It is the dose that makes the poison” – Paracelsus

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Fitness Tips For Christmas

Here are a few Christmas health tips to effectively manage your nutrition to make greater allowances for the increased calorie intake over holidays:

  1. Control your portion sizes: Don’t load your plate up for the sake of it. Stick to similar portion sizes whilst enjoying festive treats you wouldn’t normally have.
  2. Eat the rainbow – Minding your health and fitness, Keeping your plates colourful will ensure you’re getting the proper vitamins and minerals when challenged by excessive alcohol and processed foods.
  3. PROACTIVE meal planning – Reduce your intake in the days BEFORE Christmas at selected meal times of the day that will not negatively impact your training performances. Focus on less energy-dense foods e.g. proteins & vegetables/salads, and be wary of careless snacking choices. 
  4. REACTIVE meal planning – Knowing how much you’ve consumed over the last couple of days, you can make smart meal choices in the same way as the previous point. You will have good stores of energy so don’t worry about needing to over-fuel before training.
  5. Drink smart – if you drink alcohol then just be mindful of how much and what you drink. Don’t mix drinks, stick to lower calorie options e.g. clear spirits & low-calorie mixers, and don’t start drinking on an empty stomach!
  6. Stay hydrated – Remember to drink water regularly throughout the day to prevent dehydration, which can result in poorer food choices and a hangover! 
  7. Keep training & stay active – I’m not saying you need to go for a long run on Christmas morning (I won’t be…), but keeping up with your training and going for walks with the family during the holiday season will help you a) feel better about yourself and b) slightly increase your calorie allowance for what you will be eating.
  8. Relax and sleep well – regular nights of insufficient sleep i.e. less than 6 hours, is highly associated with increased risk of illness, injury, worsened body composition (more fat and less muscle mass), and increased appetite & desire for poorer food choices due to impaired regulation of hunger hormones. Excessive alcohol intake also reduces sleep quality

Smart swaps:

Here we will focus on smart swaps of alcohol.

right Beer (200-250kcal/pint) light beerlight beer (160kcal)

right Beer pint (200-250kcal) light beerbeer bottle (115kcal)

right Wine (80kcal/125ml glass) light beerwine & soda spritzer (40kcal)

right Spirits (Vodka/gin/whiskey etc) with ‘full fat’ mixer (180kcal/200ml glass) light beerspirit with diet mixer (55kcal)

right Alcopop – Bacardi Breezer/wkd etc (170kcal/bottle) light beerspirit with diet mixer (55kcal)

right Baileys/Irish cream (130kcal/glass) light beerchampagne/prosecco (90kcal/flute)

right Long Island iced tea (400kcal/glass) light beercosmopolitan/martini (100kcal/glass)

Take-Home Tips:

It’s really important that you enjoy yourself over the festive season, but don’t turn around in the New Year regretting how much weight you’ve put on. Eat smart and control your portions in the days before and after Christmas, Boxing Day, with mindful snacking and drinking choices. Stay active with a regular exercise routine and family walks, hydrate well, and relax!

Also, Learn about New Year Diet Plans.

Merry Christmas!


How do you stay healthy over Christmas?

People often gain weight during holidays and the festive season due to irregular exercise and improper eating habits. To stay healthy, plan your diet which means do not eat or drink too much that later increases your body fat. Eat the rainbow, keep your body hydrated, sleep well, and keep on exercising.

How do I stay motivated for Christmas?

1. Set micro goals
2. Keep up regular lightweight exercises
3. Be Social
4. Shorten the time and push harder
5. Find a fun activity
6. Drink enough water
7. Create a gym
8. Go workout date

What should I eat to manage my nutrition during the festive holidays?

1. Control your portion sizes
2. Eat the rainbow
3. PROACTIVE meal planning
4. REACTIVE meal planning
5. Drink smart
6. Stay hydrated
7. Keep training & stay active
8. Relax and sleep well

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