When the temperature drops, what’s the one thing humans are all too quick to put on? (Hint: It’s not more layers of clothing.) Nope, we’re talkin’ about poundage. Studies show most adults gain at least one pound during the fall and winter, and these pounds are likely to pile up over the years
Creatures of Comfort — Why It Matters
Of course, winter also brings colder temperatures, and when body temperature drops, it’s natural to crave foods that provide warmth (since the body transfers energy from food into heat)
On top of the temptation to stuff our bellies with mac n’ cheese, shorter days and less sunlight might also mean less exercise. One study found that participants were least physically active in the winter, and most active in the spring
Winter Weight — The Answer/Debate
Even with holiday parties and an abundance of casserole, pasta, and pumpkin pie around the corner, it’s possible to beat winter weight gain (a.k.a. the blizzard bulge) with a few helpful tips:
- Hit the fruit basket. Eating a piece of fruit before heading to a holiday party can take the edge off hunger and help prevent overloading on carbs.
- Scope out the buffet table. Check out the healthiest choices available before filling up a plate. Then, aim for filling half to three-fourths of the plate with veggies, and the rest with lean protein like skinless roasted turkey or seafood.
- Keep a food journal. Tracking everything we eat can make us more aware of our food choices, especially during the holidays. Yep, even that nibble of cookie dough counts!
- Get busy in the kitchen. Cook up healthy comfort foods that are lower in calories and fat, like Greatist’s whole wheat stuffing or baked apple recipes.
- Beware of the holiday beverages. Festive drinks may be fun to sip, but drink in moderation— they can be full of empty calories and loads of sugar (just one cup of eggnog has 340 calories!). Not to mention, spiking the hot cocoa with alcohol can wreak havoc on the waistline and even the skin.
- Bundle up and get outdoors. Exercise can help curb holiday weight gain, and one study suggested prolonged exercise in cold weather boosts metabolism
Cold exposure and exercise metabolism. Jett, D.M., Adams, K.J., Stamford, B.A., Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Department of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Sports Medicine, 2006;36(8):643-56.. Try some of these fun, festive options, from sledding to Reindeer Runs.
- Get moving inside. If staying indoors is the only option, there are plenty of ways to stay active. Instead of watching a movie, try popping in an exercise DVD. Hosting a holiday party? Get in a good workout and prepare for guests at the same time— deep cleaning can burn up to 270 calories per hour.