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For anyone trying to keep their weight on an even keel, winter can prove a particularly challenging time of year. Research has shown that people gain around five to seven pounds on average during the colder months of the year. Why does this happen, though, and is there anything you can do to prevent the scales from tipping in the wrong direction?
It’s dark and cold
Winter can take its toll on our bodies, and the cold weather and dark nights certainly don’t help. Let’s face it, when the temperature plummets outside and the sun has done a runner, it’s tempting to hunker down indoors in front of the TV. Lack of time outdoors, whether going for a walk or doing gardening, means you’re burning fewer calories, so weight gain becomes inevitable.
It might seem difficult, but if you can brave the elements and get outside for a brisk stroll, you’ll feel much better for it.
Winter weight gain also occurs because we tend to eat and drink more during the colder months of the year. The run-up to Christmas is often filled with get-togethers and office parties, all helping to add calories to your waistline. Nights spent watching TV also often result in snacking or comfort eating, where many of us opt for unhealthy or stodgy foods.
Yet, there’s a scientific reason why we crave more food during winter, and it harks back to our ancestors’ needs to build-up fat stores during the colder months when food was scarce. Obviously, food scarcity is no longer an issue. But, if your ancestral genes are beckoning you to fuel up, pick healthy foods such as hearty stews and warming soups.
Disturbed sleep cycles
Winter can upset our sleep patterns, where the dark nights and mornings make it harder to get out of bed compared to summer. More time lounging in bed means less time being productive, and can contribute to weight gain over the winter months. Disturbed sleep patterns also reduce the hormone, leptin, responsible for making you feel satiated after a meal. This may increase your appetite, causing weight gain.
Try to stick to a regular sleeping routine so you don’t overdo your slumber levels. Create a relaxing environment before you retire for the night, such as taking a bath or reading a book, and set an alarm clock. Make appointments or meetings for early in the morning so you’ve got a reason to get out of bed early.
Lack of natural light in winter can trigger seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, in some people, resulting in feelings of depression or low mood. Many people turn to comfort eating or alcohol to combat these feelings, which can cause weight gain. A light box can help those who suffer from SAD, but if you feel the need for extra sustenance to boost your mood, consider endorphin-rich, healthy options such as bananas, Brazil nuts and turkey.
Additionally, lack of sunlight in winter can cause vitamin D levels to plummet in the body. Studies have found that those with low vitamin D levels are prone to storing excess body fat, as this vitamin can help to break fat cells down. To combat this, get outdoors as much as possible on sunny winter days, or consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
While you can’t control the onset of winter, you can control how it affects your body. By understanding how winter can impact your weight, you can make healthy choices. For additional help in keeping your body goals on track during the colder months of the year and beyond, take a look at the quality range of products available at Steroids & Muscle.