It’s no secret that most of us are prone to gaining a few pounds as the seasons change; but why does cold weather and shorter days cause weight gain? Here are the top 6 reasons why gaining weight is so common in winter:
1. You sleep more
Picture this: it’s 6am in summertime. The birds are singing, the sun is shining and the streets are busy. You naturally want to hop out of bed so that you don’t miss the beautiful weather and the day of opportunities ahead! Now, picture this: it’s 6am in winter. It is still dark outside and the only light emanates from the traffic and the streetlamps whose light flurries down in the raindrops. It seems much more tempting to stay in bed!
But how does oversleeping cause weight gain? Not only are you less productive, meaning that you are sedentary for a larger portion of the day, but your metabolism and sleep pattern may also be negatively affected, which could contribute to weight gain.
2. You exercise less
Whether it be running, cycling or playing a sport, many of us enjoy exercise most when it is outdoors. But when the cold weather sets in and brings with it the rain, wind, ice and snow, a jog in the park loses its appeal; many of us would trade exercising in freezing conditions for curling up on the sofa with a blanket and a hot chocolate. In fact, even many people who need to walk to an indoor gym facility would prefer to skip the chilly journey. As a result of moving less, it is much easier for our inactive bodies to pile on weight.
3. You eat larger meals in social situations
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Eve, New Year’s Day… With so many occasions lined up in the winter calendar, it is inevitable that the number of social gatherings and parties that revolve around eating will increase. Compared to your home cooked meals, meals at Christmas gatherings tend to be much bigger, richer, and significantly higher in calories. Sprinkle in a few holiday buffets and a mountain of party food and you’ve found yourself the ideal diet for weight gain.
4. You can’t access as much fresh produce
In autumn and winter, you will find a reduced selection of fresh produce available in the supermarkets as it goes out of season. So, you may find yourself skipping the depleted fresh fruit and vegetable aisle and venturing down towards the snacks… This is where willpower comes in; if your supermarket is lacking fresh fruit and veg, opt for frozen instead! Whilst it may not be as nutritious as the fresh produce, it certainly has more nutritional value than that bag of crisps or chocolates that you were tempted to add to your trolley.
5.You increase your alcohol consumption
As we draw nearer to December, more and more households will be embracing the Christmas spirit! And by ‘spirit’ we mean whiskey, rum, vodka and gin. In fact, in the UK alone, Brits consume six billion units of alcohol at Christmas! But why does alcohol cause weight gain? Not only is alcohol high in calories, thus causing you to consume extra calories on top of your meals, but it also stops your body from burning fat, it can increase your appetite and it can lead to poor food choices.
6. You don’t feel well
In the winter months, colds and flus are rife and the chances are that you will end up ill at some point. Whether it be the common cold or man flu, any form of illness, particularly when it is cold outside, will cause you to feel sluggish. As a result, you will spend less time being active and more time sleeping or resting – not to mention the added comfort foods. Thus, greater levels of inactivity and comfort food will inevitably lead to weight gain.
How can I avoid significant weight gain?
If the weather won’t allow it, do some exercise at home! Slide your sofa out or bed of the way and find a free fitness video online. Regardless of what type of exercise you choose – be it yoga, dancing or an intense HIIT class – what matters is that you are moving! And why not get your friends and family involved?! The Christmas period is a social affair, so laughing along to a workout dance video together is a great way to be together, have fun and keep fit!
Remember healthier options
A side effect of unproductive days is poor food choices; the chances are, if you haven’t been very active during the day, you will most likely opt for a takeaway or comfort foods. To avoid these poor choices, it will help if you have some alternatives in mind. Instead of snacking on crisps and chocolates that are filled with empty calories, why not opt for a nutritious vegan Butternut Squash Soup? And, instead of that fizzy drinks can or beer, why not choose a delicious berry smoothie or a natural Vitamin C fruit juice that gives your immune system a boost?
Plan your meals
If you want more than simply switching out comfort foods for healthy alternatives, you may want to consider a meal plan. By planning your meals in advance, you will have no excuse to make bad diet decisions that will cause you to gain those extra pounds. So, ditch the fast food and pick up a healthy food plan!
As you can see, there are numerous causes of winter weight gain – we have only listed the top six(!) – yet, the solutions are simple: move more and eat better. Following these simple tips and by making healthy diet choices you will be able to maintain or even lose weight this Christmas!