Winter weight gain is a real thing..

Winter has officially come to the southern hemisphere. And as we add extra layers of clothes, we have to watch out that we are not adding extra layers of fat as well. Because winter weight gain is a real thing.

It is true… Winter has its fun side: lazy days, chunky sweaters and cozy fireplaces. But then there’s the real drawback… weight gain. Often the term “winter weight gain” is thrown out as a joke, but it’s more real than we think.

There are many factors that contribute to this. Too cold to exercise, moving less with cold dark days, seeking warm comfort foods… But there are adjustments you can make if you understand what contributes to this weight gain.

Here’s some of the reasons you may be gaining more weight in winter:

1. Evolution
According to new research, natural evolution can heavily influence us to pack on the pounds when it gets colder.
One study blames this on our animalistic urges, which are meant to help us to survive against the harsh winter elements.

2. Lack of sunlight
Another study found that our fat cells are sensitive to sunlight, something sadly lacking in winter.

3. Dehydration
Being dehydrated can cause weight gain in winter
too. We immediately associate winter with feeling cold and forget that we actually spend a lot of the time warm, with heaters and warm winter clothing and scarves…and this leads us to sweat. Consequently, dehydration can ensue just as rapidly as it does in the summer.
And the trouble with being thirsty, a side effect is hunger.

4. The urge to hibernate
Feel like you hibernate more in winter? You’re right.

5. Cravings
In winter the body craves more calories to gain fat in order promote internal insulation and survive the cold.

6. We also burn more calories
When the bodies internal temperature drops, we burn more calories in an effort to raise it again. As a result, we naturally reach for high-calories foods. Unfortunately we do tend to reach for the wrong high calorie foods and consume more than what we burn.

7. Hormones
Research shown that levels of melatonin, the hormone responsible for our sleep-wake cycle, as well as increased appetite, are as much as 80 percent higher in the body during the winter. Disrupted sleep can increase appetite, which may contribute to a higher intake of calorie-dense foods, and an increased chance of weight gain,

So what can you do right now to beat these factors and the winter bulge?

Eat right
It is easy to lose yourself in comfort foods in winter. But eating right now will pay off when we start shedding those winter coats. Get the calories and warmth your body demands in winter, but make sure it is from the right sources. Follow a structured eating plan like the TLC-Program. You can still have warm broths and comfort meals within the guidelines of your TLC Program without gaining weight. (See TLC RECIPE BOOK and Trim Buddies for ideas)

Stay active
Find ways to stay active and keep your body moving. Find indoor locations for your walks, even a mall will do! Insulate well when you venture outdoors and it will make going outside more pleasurable and ensure you have exposure to natural light for your body’s biorythms as well.

Sleep
In winter, the nights are longer and we get less light throughout the day and at lower intensity. This limited light exposure helps explain why we may feel like we are more tired and need more sleep. The brain doesn’t get the same signal to stay awake and alert as it does in summer during the day. Partly this is due to disrupted melatonin.
Hibernating indoors and not getting physical exercise also contribute to disrupting sleep patterns.

To help you sleep better in winter make sure you get outdoors in the morning, soon after the sun comes up; if that’s not possible, try to at least sit by a window during the first few hours of daylight. You can also help keep melatonin secretion on schedule by avoiding bright light at night.

Drink water
Stay hydrated. Drink enough water, even if it is in warm teas and soups. As mentioned before, it is easy to get dehydrated from sweating in winter, without realizing it.

With some basic measures and your TLC-Program, you can ward of the dreaded winter weight gain and even lose some weight in time for summer!