Do you gain weight in the winter? The reasons why might surprise you. Here’s how to avoid winter weight gain this year. We tend to gain weight in the cooler months. Why? We’re preparing for ‘hibernation’.
This instinctual tendency to hibernate or ‘hide’ from the cold is one possible reason why we can gain weight in winter.We tend to consume approximately 200 additional calories per day as the sun starts to set sooner. Another reason is that we produce more of the ‘sleep’ hormones. When we are seeing less daylight, our pineal glands respond to the lack of sunshine by producing melatonin, the sleep hormone that can make use feel ready to sleep.That feeling of sleepiness, especially when it is not actually time to sleep, can result in a lack of energy and motivation. The higher melatonin levels tend to increase appetite.This means we may find ourselves eating more and moving less during the cooler months, which if poorly controlled, can lead to weight gain.
Our metabolisms increase in winter in order to burn more energy to stabilise our body temperature and stay warm, meaning we require more food for the body’s extra energy demands. Another reason we eat more, particularly warm, comforting and dense foods, is because when our body is metabolising food it generates heat, meaning our bodies may naturally crave more food to help heat us up. Cold weather often means we increase comfort foods such as roasts, pastas, creamy sauces, hot puddings and red wine.
We’re less likely to exercise. It goes without saying that we all feel much less motivated to go to the gym in winter. We are more likely to make excuses for not hitting the gym or going outside for our usual activities. We over eat during the holidays. Research shows that we tend to gain one or two pounds between late November and early January. Remember: it’s 20% exercise and 80% nutrition. If you keep this in mind, you won’t go and blow your entire food plan by overeating this holiday season.
[READ: How to lose weight by Christmas]
So what’s the solution? Here are 3 simple ways to avoid winter weight gain.
–Avoid fad diets
Stay away from all fad diets and focus on eating a balanced diet instead. Make healthy food swaps instead of trying to ditch them altogether.Increase your consumption of quality calories with a high satiety rating.
Some great food options that may help curb the cravings without adding to the calories include omega 3 rich foods such as oily fish, chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts, bananas, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
Try to eat a diet rich in whole foods and low in preservatives, drink plenty of water and make sure you keep up with exercise as when you exercise you tend to crave healthier foods.
To make healthy eating easier, try preparing one or all of your meals and snacks for the day ahead. Prep breakfast the night before if you know you have an early start, make enough salad for lunch when cooking dinner and have healthy snacks handy such as raw dried fruit and nut balls, natural yoghurt, fresh fruit, seed and nut mixes, homemade dips and vegetables.
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Increase your activity. Prioritise movement, get out in the fresh air daily or schedule in a class you enjoy. Get an exercise buddy to help you stay accountable and motivated.