Why Does It Happen and What Can We Do?
Winter weight gain is a familiar complaint for many people. It seems that every winter we add a few pounds and come summer we do not lose them all again either. A few pounds always hang around, making us a little bit heavier each year. These extra pounds seem extremely hard to lose! Why does this happen and what can we do to move them?
There are numerous contributing factors. First, it seems possible that we have a genetic disposition to store more fat as winter approaches. Many animals do this, and it was almost certainly vital to survival for our ancestors. Extra layers of fat on the body protect us against the cold and then can be used as fuel in the late winter and early spring when food stocks would generally be very low. We tend to eat more in the Autumn, when food is plentiful after harvest time, to help this process along. We may also automatically choose foods that are higher in fat content at this time.
Hormone levels can also affect our weight gain.
The interaction of hormones and other chemicals in the brain can bring about variations in appetite and cravings. Some neurotransmitters can also impact the way we eat. People who are overweight often have low levels of these neurotransmitters and the results can include excessive appetite, depression and sleep disorders. At the same time, the lack of daylight caused by the shorter days during late autumn and winter can bring on seasonally affected disorder or winter depression. One of the quickest ways to give a boost to the energy levels and emotions is to eat high carbohydrate foods such as sugar treats, crisps and cereals that give us a fast blood sugar ‘fix’. So, people who feel low in the winter will tend to overeat or eat the wrong foods, leading to weight gain, more depression and a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
So altogether there are many reasons why we eat more high carbohydrate foods such as cookies, pies and chocolate in the winter, and of course most of these foods also contain high levels of fats. The best way to cope with this is to replace other foods that are also high in carbohydrate so that we get what our body craves, but which have low fat content and plenty of fibre. This means potatoes, wholegrain bread without butter, wholegrain rice, cereals, and fresh whole fruit.
It is also essential to take more exercise. Often our physical activity levels drop in the winter, and we tend to want to stay home and rest. This is natural when it is cold outside. But we are not cavemen! We have heating in our homes and can be sure that there will still be plenty of food in the shops come February. We do not need to store fat the way that they did. Sign up with a gym or get a stationary bicycle for the den. Transform those carbs into energy now instead of keeping it on the waistline until spring. Winter weight gain is easily avoidable this way.
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