Why do we pick up weight during winter?

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The shorts and swimsuits have been put away, mince pies and bobotie are on the stoves and all thoughts of dieting have been forgotten until September. We are all ready to pile on a few pounds, but is putting on weight inevitable? 

 

Winter weight gain has been a common complaint of many people. It seems that every winter we add a few pounds. But the downside to this is that come summer we don't lose them all. What is even worse is that it seems to be very hard to lose these extra winter pounds. Why does this happen and what can we do?

There seems to be several contributing factors:

  • First, it seems likely that we store more fat as winter approaches.
  • Another likely reason for this seasonal weight gain is the influence of hormones in our body. The flactuations of hormones and other chemicals in the brain can result to variations in appetite and cravings.
  • At the same time, the lack of daylight caused by the shortening days during winter can bring on winter depression. An effective way to give a boost to the energy levels and emotions is to eat high carbohydrate foods including sugar treats like chips, cookies and cereals that give us a fast blood sugar fix. 
  • And not to forget, we need to include exercises inspite of the chills. Often our physical activity levels drop in the winter and we have a tendency to want to stay home and rest.
  • What may surprise you is that most of us tend to eat more in spring and summer, but it is just the type of food we want that changes in winter.
  • Low levels of vitamin D can also affect our weight in winter, the lack of vitamin D reduces fat breakdown and triggers fat storage, so calories you consume are stored in fat cells rather than being used for energy.

Tips to avoid winter weight gain:

  • Exercise, setting a regular fitness schedule is the key to keeping weight off in winter.
  • Never go to a party hungry. Fruits and vegetables are where we need to get our carbohydrates form and not from alcohol and brownies. Eat baby carrots, a big salad or an apple to curb your desire for calories.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is loaded with calories, drink a glass of water or a diet soda before and after each alcoholic beverage to help pace yourself and to dilute calories.
  • Practice calorie damage control. Don’t fall off the wagon if you do overeat, make up for it by cutting your calories for a few days and adding extra exercise.

Do you dread the holidays with all those tempting, fattening foods? This year, be prepared for the season with our plan to beat winter weight gain.

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