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With some calorie-saving ideas, you can still enjoy the festive period without ruining your training…

‘And on the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… a year’s pass to Slimming World.’ Okay, I hope you’re sitting comfortably. According to the British Dietetic Association, the average Brit will pile on up to half-a-stone over the festive period. Visually, the waist seepage over your Christmas belt isn’t overly appealing. But it’s exercising when that extra weight really chaffs with a cycling example revealing why…

Your power-to-weight ratio is how much wattage you generate per kilogramme of bodyweight. Say your average power output is 200 watts. If you weigh 75kg, your power-to-weight ratio is 2.67 w/kg. Put on 5kg, elevating you to 80g, and that figure drops to 2.5 w/kg. That means you’ll have to work harder to maintain the same speed, which will ultimately see you slow down sooner. Then again, you’re neither a pro or a monk so you want to enjoy Christmas. So how can you get through the festive period, enjoy the seasonal delights, and still hit the New Year in good shape?

‘Try to avoid, or at least limit, the calorific extras,’ says Kate Percy, author of Go-Faster Fuel. ‘That means leaving the turkey skin and bread sauce aside.’ You should also watch roast-potato consumption as each one can register a rather distressing 200 calories! On the positive, turkey’s a great source of muscle-repairing protein, while carrots, kale and, yes, sprouts are bursting with enough antioxidants to bolster your immune system. And as the NHS says you’re 80% more likely to catch a cold in the winter, that’s heartening news.

You can actually boost your defences further by drinking eight to 14 glasses of red wine each week. Red wine, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, scores highly on the ORAC scale, which is a measure of a food or drink’s antioxidant content. ‘That said, red wine still dehydrates you, so try and accompany each wine with a glass of water,’ adds Percy. As well as rehydrating, water also fills you up, meaning you’re less inclined to ‘do a David Boon’. Ex-international cricketer Boon famously downed 52 cans of beer on the flight from Australia to England for the 1989 Ashes. Clearly it didn’t dampen his senses as he went on to average 55 during the series as the Aussies won 4-0!

Still, as ale is highly calorific, you could always replace with a spirit, though ideally lose the mixer. Coke, for instance, is packed with sugar that’ll soon find its way to your hips.

Finally, to complement your shot of brandy, the pub snack. These are notorious for being packed with saturated fat and salt. Pork scratchings are generally the worst offenders with around 400kcals and 35g of fat per bag.

The healthiest pub snack depends on the type of establishment you’ve found yourself in. If you’re in a fashionable part of town, go for popcorn or pretzels. Lower in fat than crisps, nuts and ‘the scratchings’, they’re a great source of carbohydrate to help replenish your energy stores. If there’s no popcorn to hand, choose a small bag of peanuts, which are packed with muscle-rebuilding protein.

James Witts is a writer & editor specialising in endurance sport, health & fitness, outdoor adventure and sports science.

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