Continuing the weight loss journey in winters can be an uphill task as we tend to become less active and eat whatever we can lay our hands on since we alway seem to be in a ravenous mode – and the prolonged festive and wedding season just upset that apple cart a bit more. With the mercury level plummeting down in winters, we also become less active and find warmth in blankets, quilts, and of course, loads of food! Also, the grey, cold, and gloomy days can steer you to pick comfort foods high in sodium and sugar – all of these contributing greatly to weight gain. The good thing about winters is that we can hide all the extra flab behind layers of warm clothes and jackets, but once the winters are over, the guilt and frustration might kick in when we may no longer be able to fit into that skinny jeans anymore. On an average, everyone gains anywhere from two to three kgs in winters and it’s not only due to letting guards down during the prolonged festive and wedding season and infinite cups of hot chocolate, there’s more science behind weight gain with cold months, and in this post, we want to elaborate on why we gain fat in winters and how to lose it all?
Why We Gain Weight in Winters?
1. It’s part of the Evolution: Through various stages of evolution, our bodies have learned to conserve energy and store more fat during cold winter months when food was scare and not readily available. Our evolutionary trait pushes the body to stock food in winters.
2. Changes in Melatonin Level: Since the days are shorter and sunlight goes out too soon, the body produces more of the sleep hormone melatonin, which can make you less active and sleepy for most part of the day. High melatonin levels also increases appetite which means you would need more food and would be conserving all the calories by being less active.
3. Increase in Metabolism: That’s a good thing, right?! The dip in temperature means our body needs more energy to raise the core temperature, and that it does by increasing metabolism, and more calories are needed to keep up the metabolism, and extra food is needed to keep the metabolism happy.
4. Certain Foods Bring us Comfort in Winters: To beat the cold temperature outside, we may reach out to high-calorie foods and snacks for comfort and warmth.
5. Decrease in Activity: It’s obvious, we become less active due to cold temperature outside.
6. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): It’s a change in behavior that sets in “mostly” during winter months where people have feelings of depression, changes in mood, and feel lack of energy and motivation, and often described as “winter blues.” Some people experience SAD in summer and other seasons too, but it is commonly seen during winters. SAD can push people to eat more food, increase stress levels, decrease physical activity – all adding to cause weight gain.
7. Extended Festive and Wedding Season: From Diwali to New Year’s to wedding season, the entire winter season is chock-a-block with feasting and food. Feasting is a part of festivities and wedding season and sweets and sugary delights are an integral part of festivals, so how can you get past festivities without sweets?
8. Lower Water Intake: Have you noticed how we feel less thirsty and more hungry during winters? It’s because we have reduced the water intake by a considerable degree. Since the body is not able to rightly distinguish between hunger and thirst signals, we mostly respond to it as a hunger signal and eat more.
9. Low Vitamin D: Less sunlight means low vitamin D levels, and as we all know, vitamin D is a key nutrient that is essential for weight loss.
Ways to Lose Weight in Winters:
1. Drink Warm Water: Do not cut down on the number of glasses of water in winters just because it is extremely cold outside. Warm up your water and have it at regular intervals because we have mentioned above, when the body is dehydrated, various chemical reactions including the fat-burning process slows down, and that’s why it’s important to drink at least 2 liters of each day. Dehydration also affects the release of human growth hormone (HGH) which binds to the fat cells, breaking down stored fat, and mobilizing them. Since the body cannot properly differentiate between hunger and thirst signals, we tend to confuse “thirst” for hunger, and turn to food to curb hunger pangs, adding unnecessary calories that are hard to burn off at the end of the day.
2. Try 10 to 20 minutes HIIT twice a week: Weight loss can only happen by following a proper diet and exercise routine, so do get into the proper workout clothes, and dedicate at least 20 minutes for exercise, even if it’s just brisk walking. Also, try to include 10 to 20 minutes of high intensity interval training twice a week to torch all the extra calories. Also, if you lack motivation, find a friend who can motivate and workout along with you. Read about this 7-Minute Fat Burning HIIT Exercises that you can Do at Home.
3. NEAT activities: Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy we use for everything we do in our day-to-day life except for when we are sleeping or exercising. Using the stairs instead of the lift, squatting on the floor to lift something up, walking while talking on the phone, every activity we do while being on our feet, comes under NEAT. Learn about these activities help to burn some amount of calories and these bits of calories spent here and there, add up to a considerable amount when you are trying to lose weight. Since most of become extremely inactive during winters, NEAT activities help a great deal in burning certain amount of calories through the day.
4. Stay off Sugary Delights: Sugar is the number one factor that can cause rapid weight gain. Since festive and wedding season is in full swing, keep a safe distance from cupcakes, cakes, muffins, gulab jamnus, and everything that spells “sugar” because they make you more hungry and increase cravings throughout the day.
5. Amp up Fiber and Protein: High-protein and high-fiber food items can help you lose fat by keeping you full for longer periods of time, and prevent food cravings. Protein also helps in burning more calories. A high-fiber food slows down your stomach emptying process and help in releasing hormones that make you feel full. Food items that are high in water, fiber, and protein all benefit your body by keeping you full for long period of time. Additionally, fiber has no calories at all and the best option in a weight loss diet.
6. Natural Appetite Suppressants: Try these Top 45 Foods To Suppress Appetite and Reduce Hunger.
7. Increase Vitamin D Levels: Vitamin D deficiency is strongly linked to belly fat. Amp up your vitamin D not only by getting a bit of sunlight, but also by eating vitamin D rich food such as fish, eggs, mushrooms, and even fortified food.
8. Serotonin-Boosting Foods: For someone who feels low during gloomy winter days, consuming foods such as spinach, eggs, cheese, tofu, salmon, nuts and seeds can boost the level of serotonin, which is a chemical in the brain which impacts and improves mood.
9. Eat more of Whole Foods: Eating whole foods helps to cut back on processed and high-calorie foods. Check out various diet programs on Rati Beauty app that include whole foods extensively to help drop the excess weight.
10. Try to Workout in the Morning: Since the days are shorter, it would be a good idea to workout in the mornings to exercise when the motivation is high and when sunlight is available to make enough vitamin D.
11. Make it a rule to clock 10,000 steps everyday: Since winters can push you into a state of inactivity, make it a habit to clock in 10,000 steps to burn calories through the day.
12. Learn to Meal Prep: Meal prepping is a great way for sticking to a healthy diet. Learn how you can meal prep by following weekly diet programs on Rati Beauty app.
13. Don’t go to parties hungry just because you are going to eat a lot of Food: It’s a common tendency to stay hungry in order to save calories, for most part of the day, just because you are going to eat a lot of food at the wedding or party later on. When you have starved yourself through the entire day, you are most likely to binge and overeat, piling up extra calories. In fact, eat a protein snack just before hitting the party scene to avoid binging.
14. Limit Coffee and Tea Intake: Winters also means unlimited cups of coffee and tea because they provide the much-needed warmth and that too instantly, but do cut down coffee and tea intake because they can surely increase your weight, with that added heaps of sugar.