Experts Reveal How Long it Takes to Burn Off Christmas Dinner, Plus the Exercises to Do

Experts are cutting to the chase this holiday season, revealing the exact time needed to burn off your Christmas dinner calories. Plus, they’ve got the inside scoop on the exercises to make it happen.

It’s no secret that people gain weight during the festive seasons. However, making better choices this year starts with understanding how many calories your favorite Christmas foods contain and how much exercise you need to burn them off.

Experts at Mirafit have analyzed the calorie intake of traditional Christmas dinner foods to highlight the exercises you need to burn them off and how much time it will take you. So you can have your Christmas cake and eat it too!

Starters and Snacks

Most families start eating well before Christmas dinner is ready—common starters like smoked salmon and cheese with crackers amount to 280 calories. Make staying healthy a goal for 2024, and burn these calories in advance. Women would need a 58-minute walk to burn off this calorie count, while men could do it with 49 minutes of walking.

Go caroling, or take the kids to see the decorations in the neighborhood anytime before the 25th to earn a guilt-free Christmas morning first course this year.

Turkey Dinner & All the Trimmings

Christmas dinner racks up 1,499 calories, including the turkey with all the trimmings, so expect some more intense exercise to burn this off. Running burns considerably more calories than walking, and running is a great way to start over with your fitness goals. Women will need to run for 2 hours and 1 minute, and men should aim for 1 hour and 42 minutes.

Long runs are impractical for all but experienced athletes, especially over the holiday season. Spread the training over a few days and incorporate other exercises into the same workout, like strength training. 

If you opt for an outside run instead of a treadmill, wear bright colors to stay visible to drivers when it’s dark. Also, remember that muscles become tighter and more injury-prone in winter due to muscles contracting to conserve heat, so stretching properly before your run is vital.

Desserts to Finish the Feast

After your dinner, the feast continues with dessert.

A sampling of traditional desserts like Christmas pudding, yule log, and mince pies totals 1,172 calories. For men, burning off this calorie count would require an extensive 4 hours and 22 minutes of weightlifting, while women would need 5 hours and 10 minutes.

While it’s unrealistic to commit to this length of exercise in one day, it’s certainly feasible to spread it out over a week or two. Spending just over an hour for four or five days will burn the calories you consumed from Christmas day desserts.

Alternate between upper and lower body workouts to ensure you’re targeting all areas while simultaneously allowing muscles to recover.

Drinks to Celebrate the Festivities

It wouldn’t be Christmas day without mulled wine, eggnog, and even a couple of glasses of regular wine – but altogether, the combination of these drinks equates to 1,008 calories. To burn this off, women must aim for 1 hour and 24 minutes of cycling, while men must complete 1 hour and 11 minutes.

Cycling can be an excellent way for the family to get together over Christmas. Pick a route with a pit stop halfway through to take a rest if attempting to burn off over 1000 calories in one go.

Stationary bikes at the gym are a better option for people who would rather not face the cold.

Calorie Count for Common Christmas Foods

Find the calorie count for common Christmas foods below:

  • Two turkey slices: 117kcal
  • Three small roast potatoes: 300kcal
  • One serving of mashed potatoes: 88kcal
  • Twi pigs in blankets: 550kcal
  • One serving of brussel sprouts: 28kcal
  • Two servings of broccoli: 15kcal
  • One serving of parsnips: 50kcal
  • One serving of carrots: 23kcal
  • One small Yorkshire pudding: 56kcal
  • One serving of stuffing: 193kcal
  • One serving of gravy: 79kcal
  • One serving of smoked salmon: 117kcal
  • Four crackers: 80kcal
  • One serving of cheese: 83kcal
  • One serving Christmas pudding: 327kcal
  • One serving Christmas yule log: 427kcal
  • Two mince pies: 418kcal
  • Two glasses of wine: 516kcal
  • One glass of mulled wine: 227kcal
  • One glass of eggnog: 265kcal

Mica Moore from Mirafit understands the athlete mindset, “Fitness enthusiasts may be determined to stay in good shape despite the high-calorie consumption. Fitness logs and calorie counting in a journal can help.” The average American can benefit by thinking this way, too.

The average Christmas dinner totals 3,959 calories. Christmas Day can be guilt-free with a little planning and some carefully placed workouts. It’s one day of the year when we can forget the diet and fitness goals.

Gregory Gaynor Avatar

Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done.

Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.