Winter means huge jumpers and comfy nights. However, whether it's higher-calorie meals, the fact that we may be exercising less, or covering up too much, it can result in weight gain. Although we may focus on weight gain during the holiday season, it is crucial to be mindful of the little changes in our lifestyles that occur during the winter.
A little more to eat combined with a little less movement can lead to gradual weight gain, which can be a bigger challenge to overcome by spring. And, if you don't lose it during the summer, gaining a couple of pounds each winter can mount up over time and harm your health. In this article, we will discuss the reasons for winter weight gain and how to stop it.
Winter Weight Gain Reasons
1. Too Much Sleep
When it's freezing outdoors, all you want to do is get into bed. As a result of your sleep schedule, your fitness may suffer. Remember, this does not mean you should sleep less, because getting proper sleep is critical if you want to lose weight.
2. High Calorie-foods Intake
Winter holidays include Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year's. Holidays are marked by social gatherings such as hors d'oeuvres-laden cocktail parties and family feasts. Furthermore, those who work frequently participate in several work-related holiday gatherings that provide high-calorie foods and beverages. Researchers believe that increased calorie intake throughout the holiday season is the primary cause of winter weight gain. This could be attributed to larger portion sizes as well as increased intake of high-calorie foods and beverages such as sweets and high-fat foods. Most holiday-related social occasions, for example, include calorie-rich meals, sweet desserts such as cookies, pies, and cakes, and high-calorie beverages such as eggnog, hot chocolate, and spiked cider. As a result of this increase in calorie intake, adults in the United States gain up to 0.88 to 2 pounds between November and January. Weight gain is frequent over the Christmas season in other parts of the world as well.
A tiny bit of weight gain is not cause for concern, and it is fine to enjoy your winter parties and the foods offered as part of a healthy diet.
Weight gained during the holidays, on the other hand, is not frequently compensated for during the rest of the year, indicating that winter weight gain may contribute to long-term weight buildup.
3. Reduced Physical Activity
During the winter, many people are less active. Lower activity levels result in fewer calorie expenditures per day, which might contribute to weight gain. This could be caused by shorter days, changes in weather, and more social engagements around the holidays, which leave less time for workouts and other physical activities.
An analysis of 26 studies involving 9,300 participants from 18 countries discovered that physical activity levels were highest in the summer and lowest in the winter in most areas. In general, people were more inactive in the winter. This makes sense, especially for individuals who reside in cold-weather areas. Even though a decrease in physical activity might contribute to winter weight gain, studies suggest that the main cause of increased body weight during the winter months is usually associated with increased calorie consumption.
4. Cold Weather and Metabolism
Cold weather can affect metabolism. When your body is exposed to colder temperatures, it works harder to maintain a stable internal temperature, burning more calories. However, this increased energy expenditure might not be sufficient to compensate for the excess calories consumed during winter.
5. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Some people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as the Winter Blues. Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that happens only at certain times of the year, commonly in the winter. SAD can range from mild to severe, and it can have a significant effect on one's quality of life. Changes in hormones and neurotransmitters in reaction to daylight loss, and the changes in sleep patterns that occur over the winter months, are thought to be a major cause of SAD.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) include:
- lack of energy
- excessive sleepiness
- increased appetite
- higher cravings for sweet and carbohydrate-rich foods
- Social withdrawal
As a result of these symptoms, some people with SAD may gain weight throughout the winter.
How To Stop Winter Weight Gain?
While you may believe that winter weight gain is unavoidable due to the colder, shorter days, the holidays hustle, and your natural desire to hibernate more, consider the following tips to manage your health and weight.
Did you know that dehydration is a leading cause of fatigue and poor energy? When you're fatigued, you may not want to engage in physical activities that improve your mood and help you maintain a healthy weight. Furthermore, when you think you are hungry, you may be thirsty. Staying hydrated is an excellent method to avoid winter weight gain. Drink half your body weight in ounces each day but more if you exercise. Drink at least 80 ounces of water every day if you weigh 160 pounds.
2. Eat Whole Foods
You've probably heard of the whole food movement. This eating style emphasizes consuming entire foods (or as near to whole foods as possible), such as fresh vegetables and fruits, unprocessed meats and proteins, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and healthful unrefined oils. Sugar, white flour, fast food, and classic junk food are connected with an increased rate of obesity, higher fasting glucose levels, metabolic syndrome, and higher total and LDL cholesterol levels. This winter, steer your grocery cart to the periphery of the store, where fresh, unprocessed, and whole-food selections are frequently found.
3. Upgrade Your Comfort Foods
Food enjoyment is a primordial human urge. The good news is that you don't have to give up your favorite flavors and snacks to avoid winter weight gain. Rather, try substituting higher-quality ingredients to improve the health value of your favorite comfort foods by using more whole-food, low-sugar, and healthful ingredients. For instance, replace white sugar with maple syrup, honey, or monk fruit. Use gluten-free flour, whole-wheat flour, or almond flour instead of white flour. Upgrade your oils to less refined ones like olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil.
4. Balance Your Blood Sugar
Insulin, a hormone that permits cells to absorb glucose, a sugar, from the blood, regulates your biochemistry. When your blood sugar levels rise and fall regularly, it might throw your insulin out of balance and lead your body to retain more fat. When your blood sugar levels are constant throughout the day, your body is better equipped to control metabolism, burn fat, and maintain your ideal weight. To keep your blood sugar levels stable, avoid foods made with processed sugar and other refined carbohydrates, such as crackers, candy, bagels, and even foods marketed as health foods, but which can contain high levels of refined sugars, such as granola, some energy bars, and sweetened yogurt. According to several studies, eating frequent little meals and snacks throughout the day results in more stable blood sugar levels and a lower body mass index. These mini meals or snacks, however, must contain a mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
5. Exercise Regularly
Numerous forms of exercise and exercise routines can help you avoid seasonal weight gain while also providing numerous other health and well-being benefits. Regardless of the type of physical activity you select, evidence suggests that frequent exercise, when combined with a balanced diet, not only helps stop weight gain but also helps individuals who have lost weight to keep it off in the long run.
Focus on the following components for increased effectiveness and durability in your fitness routine:
- Vary the type of workout you do each week. Try including some cardio, strength training, resistance training, and flexibility within seven days.
- Explore hobbies that you enjoy for more inspiration and better weight management. One study found that having fun while exercising helped overweight women lose weight.
- Maintaining consistency with your fitness routine will help you avoid winter weight gain. People who exercise for about 60 minutes every day have a better chance of losing weight. You don't have to work out for an hour every day, but you should move your body every day.
6. Manage Stress
You've probably heard that stress has an impact on your body weight. When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol (a hormone that raises your blood sugar and blood pressure) while weakening your immune system. It also increases appetite. Persistent stress and increased cortisol levels predict future weight gain. Many people have high-stress levels throughout the winter, which means they may have increased cortisol levels and a predisposition to gain weight.
Finally, you have little control over the possible stressors that life throws at you, but you can work on how you deal with stress. Make more time for yourself by simplifying your life, taking long, deep breaths, and focusing on the good.
- Sleep on time and for a fixed duration.
- If you're looking for food to warm you up, turn to healthy foods like soups.
- Drink plenty of water before and during your festive get-togethers to avoid drinking too many cocktails. It also helps to go into the happy hour or party with a set number of drinks in mind so that you pace yourself and don't go overboard.
- Meditate regularly to reduce anxiety, improve dietary habits, and weight management, among various health benefits.
- Get enough sleep as it will regulate hunger hormones and prevent winter weight gain.
Stay focused on weight goals through practices like meditation and journaling. It helps maintain healthy eating habits and prevents winter weight gain.