Winter weight gain is a common complaint of many people. It seems that every winter we add a few pounds, and come summer we don’t lose them all again either. A few of them always stick around, making us a little heavier every year. They seem to be very hard to lose extra pounds! Why does this happen and what can we do?
There are many contributing factors. First, it seems likely that we have a genetic disposition to store more fat as winter approaches. Many animals do this and it was vital to survival for our ancestors. Extra layers of fat on the body protect us against the cold and then can be used as fuel in the late winter and early spring when food stocks would historically be very low. We probably have a tendency to eat more in the fall and over the Holidays, when food is plentiful, to help this process along. We may also unconsciously choose foods that are higher in calorie content at this time.
Hormone levels can also influence our weight gain. The interaction of hormones and other chemicals in the brain can bring about variations in appetite and cravings. Some neurotransmitters can also influence the way we eat. People who are overweight often have low levels of these neurotransmitters and the results can include excessive appetite, depression and sleep disorders. At the same time, the lack of daylight caused by the shortening days during late fall and winter can bring on seasonally affected disorder or winter depression. One of the quickest ways to give a boost to the energy levels and emotions is to eat high carbohydrate foods including sugar treats, chips and cereals that give us a fast blood sugar ‘fix’. So people who feel low in the winter will tend to overeat, leading to weight gain, more depression and a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
So altogether there are many reasons why we eat more high carbohydrate foods such as cookies, pies and chocolate in the winter, and of course most of these foods also contain high levels of calories. The best way to handle this is generally to substitute other foods that are also high in carbohydrate so that we get what our body craves, but which have lower calorie content and plenty of fiber. This means potatoes, wholegrain pasta, wholegrain rice, oats, and fresh whole fruit.
It is also important to take more exercise. Often our physical activity levels drop in the winter and we have a tendency to want to stay home and rest. This is natural when it is cold outside. But we are not cavemen! We have heating in our homes and can be sure that there will still be plenty of food in the stores come February. We do not need to stow fat the way that they did. If you’re not already signed up to a gym, there are plenty of workouts you can do in the comfort of your living room, several of which can be found in The Flat Abs Formula and my free workout plan bonus.
You can still eat your Holiday favourites and winter comfort foods, but work them in moderation into your overall diet, so that you’re not setting yourself back in progress. And balance those calories with exerise *now*, rather than saying ‘After the holidays’ or ‘In the New Year’ or any of those other over-used excuses!
Winter weight gain is easily avoidable this way and you can continue to work towards your body goals, or at least maintain the hard-earned results that you’ve already achieved.
Don’t ever let the month of the year get in the way of your goals!
- FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Do you find winter more of a struggle then other times of the year?
Do you now feel better equipped to combat that this year?
I’d love to hear your answers in the comments section below!