Counteract Seasonal Weight Gain
What You Need to Know
Winter weight gain is an unfortunate complaint. Every year folks gain a few pounds due to less activity in the cold winter months and if they’re not lost again over the summer then before you know it we become a little heavier with each passing year. Why does this happen and what can we do to avoid winter weight gain?
There are plenty of contributing factors to this annual weight gain. First, it appears that humans have a genetic tendency to store fat with the coming winter. Animals also do this and it was probably a vital survival factor for our ancestors. For the winter, extra layers of fat in the body protected us from the cold and provided fuel for said bodies during the late winter and early spring when food stores historically were low. Further since the fall has always been harvest time when food is abundant, we may have a genetic disposition to eat more food (and possibly more fat) then as well to facilitate the storage of fat for winter.
Hormone levels can also play a role in winter weight gain. Hormones and other brain chemicals can affect appetite and food cravings. Some of our neurotransmitters can also affect our food choices as shown through research on overweight people who have been documented as having low levels of neurotransmitters and who suffer from increased appetite, depression and trouble sleeping.
All of this is worsened by increasingly shorter days during during fall and winter can bring on seasonally affected disorder (SAD) also known as winter depression. A quick way to boost energy levels and improve mood is through eating high carbohydrate meal foods like chips, cereals and sugar-laden treats that offer quick blood sugar highs. So people who get depressed in winter end up eating foods that can lead to weight gain, more depression and a never-ending vicious cycle.
The best way to handle the body’s increased desire for refined carbohydrates like cookies, pies and chocolate during winter is to substitute other foods for them in the winter so that the body gets what it craves but these foods should also be low in fat and high in fiber to prevent the blood sugar crashes that often follow the sugar highs. Some of these foods that manage to provide carbohydrate, fiber and are low in fat: potatoes, wholegrain breads, wholegrain rice, cereals and fresh fruit.
Exercise also plays a crucial role in helping one to avoid winter weight gain. Because of the weather and shorter days in the winter, our activity levels drop and we tend to want to stay home “hibernating” which is only natural when it’s miserable outside. We have to remember we are no longer cavemen dependent upon the cycles of the season or feast/famine. Our homes are heated and our food stores will not get depleted come March. Our bodies do not need to store fat for survival like our ancestors needed. You can sign up with a gym or bring a stationary bicycle or treadmill into the den to get some exercise.
Avoid winter weight gain by transforming those carbs into energy now so they don’t get stored around your waistline. Doing so can help you avoid the vicious cycle of depression and weight gain every year.
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