Winter is when most of us can experience unwanted weight gain for various reasons. Heavier, warming meals, less day-light to exercise in and winter weather can affect us all at some point. Luckily, there are ways to counteract winter weight gain and stay in shape year-round – let’s take a look!
1. Follow the Same Nutritional Rules Year-Round
Many of us experience weight fluctuations throughout the year due to poor nutritional habits and an over-reliance on short-term diets. For instance, a you might be looking to get in shape for the summer and so sign up for a 12-week diet program during spring. Despite early results, it is all too common for the motivation to disappear, and it’s easier to return to previous behaviors and re-gain the lost weight.
Following the same nutritional rules year-round and building healthy eating habits is much more beneficial for staying at a healthy weight. Doing so is great for your health and stops you from doing unsustainable diets for temporary weight loss.
Good sports nutrition habits and actions include:
- Be aware of your food choices and overall intake – a food journal can help
- Have at least one serving of fruits or vegetables with each meal
- Drink some water before each meal (sugar-free drinks with electrolytes can also help)
- Eat more slowly and focus on your meals instead of distracting yourself with TV or your phone
- Cut out liquid calories: fruit juices, soda, alcohol, cocktails, etc.
2. Maintain an Exercise Routine
Aside from increasing your calorie intake in winter, you might be at higher risk of weight gain during the winter due to a reduction in exercise. Regular physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight in three significant ways.
First, research suggests that physical activity has a regulatory effect on our appetite. Exercise can improve your hunger and satiety signals, reducing the risk of overeating and gaining weight.
Second, maintaining a solid exercise program burns energy and increases caloric expenditure, reducing the risk of overconsuming calories. The expenditure isn’t huge, but it can add up. For instance, burning 2,000 calories through exercise weekly means you’re expending over 8,000 per month.
Third, regular physical activity makes you more likely to eat better because you wouldn’t want the effort wasted. For instance, if you go on morning runs or bike rides, you’re much more likely to eat a healthy breakfast and fuel your body correctly.
3. Keep Your NEAT Up
NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis and refers to the calories you burn through everyday activities: carrying groceries, walking up a flight of stairs, playing with your kids, and more.
Though it might not seem important, your NEAT can be a big part of your daily energy expenditure and reduce the risk of unwanted weight gain. According to some data, NEAT can vary by up to 2,000 calories between people of similar sizes.
Trying to keep your NEAT high can allow you to enjoy more food and not gain weight even if you don’t have the time for long training sessions. Here are a few simple ways to boost your NEAT:
- Stand instead of sitting
- Take the stairs
- Play with your kids
- Park your car farther and walk to your destination
- Leave the car at home and bike instead
- Go for a walk during your lunch break and after dinner
- Walk to your co-worker’s office instead of emailing them
Winter doesn’t need to be a time for weight gain – instead with a focus on consistent, healthy nutrition and regular exercise (even if it means changing your exercise habits during the colder months) you can avoid the winter weight gain and be ready for those summer months!