When the cooler weather rolls around, sometimes a little unwanted winter bulge comes with it. But while seasons are a constant, winter weight gain doesn’t have to be.
Learn how to avoid winter weight gain with a few simple strategies.
Staying healthy and keeping fit isn’t just about feeling comfortable and capable in your body, it’s a crucial part of preventing illness and disease so that you can lead a long and healthy life.
Eating more in winter can be a normal phenomenon for extra comfort and boosting body temperature.
But too much of the wrong types of foods will not only add to your waistline, but will compromise your immune system too.
One of the biggest reasons why people get sick in winter, is actually because their body's are under constant stress from having to digest extra calories and denser foods.
You can eat more in winter and not gain weight, but the secret is to ensure you're eating the right types of seasonal, nutrient-rich, unprocessed foods.
So, no you don't need to go on a diet in winter nor is that a smart idea.
But by making some small tweaks to your diet, lifestyle and routine during the colder months, you'll not only stay in shape, but you'll protect your immune system when in its most under threat.
1. Choose The Right Types of Comfort Foods
It’s completely understandable that when the weather starts to cool down, we feel the temptation to hibernate and eat heavy, comforting foods which can open up a pandoras box of unhealthy choices.
But before you load up on heavy, processed carbohydrates and fried, fatty foods, look to mother nature and what she naturally brings forth in the cooler months seasonally.
These are predominately the "strengthening" foods from the vegetable spectrum, as well lower water content fruits and whole beans, legumes and grains.
By embracing these foods, you'll nourish and protect your cells with nutrients that they're designed to receive in the winter time.
Seasonal winter foods include:
- Brussel Sprouts
- Leafy Greens
- Citrus fruits
- Whole Grains
2. Eat When You’re Hungry, Not Out Of Habit
It might sound obvious, but eat only when you’re actually hungry.
Eating is a habitual thing that we often do subconsciously rather than out of need.
In the winter time, since eating warms us up, it's especially easy to reach for another serving of a meal, or to over snack on the wrong types of foods, which can quickly add to weight gain.
Also, since we tend to spend less time being active outdoors in winter, it's important to be careful not to take on "food" as your winter activity.
The truth is that if you're nourished, you'll feel less hungry less often.
So, focus on building seasonal winter foods into your diet and you'll naturally begin to feel more satiated, reducing cravings. If hunger sets in outside of meal time, grab a handful of raw macadamias, almonds or organic dried mango or apricots and your cravings will quickly pass without piling in too many extra calories.
It also helps to drink more water throughout the day, especially a full glass right before a meal.
In winter, you need to be more conscious of your water intake. Even though thirst doesn't come as naturally as it does in the summer time, your body still needs adequate hydration to function at its best.
Hunger is also often a mask for thirst - so drink water first, wait 20-30 minutes before you definitely choose food.
Tip: Add a 2-3 drops of lemon essential oil into your water to make hydration in winter even more appealing.
Learn more in 6 Healthy Ways to Lose Weight & Keep It Off.
3. Increase Resistance Exercise
Exercise and fresh air are key components of your overall health at any time of year, particularly in winter when we tend to spend more time in doors in stale, stagnant air.
So be sure to get your daily 30-45 minute walk done outside in the fresh, moving air as a priority.
Beyond that, to keep your body in shape during winter, add a little resistance training to your routine if you don't already. Not only will placing resistance on your muscles strengthen your body and make you more agile, it also naturally boosts your metabolic rate, stimulating fat burning.
So basically, any extra calories you eat that may turn to fat will be in the firing line if you're putting a little pressure on your muscles.
And you don't need to go crazy in the gym!
Try Pilates, Hot Yoga, Circuit Training, Interval Training, Light Weights or a mix of push-ups, burpees and squats using your own body weight at home - whatever works for you that is at a level that you can stay consistent with.
4. Eat More Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are rich in natural probiotics, which are incredibly important for your digestive system. And a healthy digestive system means faster digestion and less weight gain.
Probiotics cultivate good bacteria in your gut which not only helps improve your digestive health and weight loss, but boosts your immunity as well.
Even though probiotics are available in supplement or powdered form, the best versions are from foods like:
- Organic Yogurt (Dairy or Coconut)
- Organic Cheese (Vegetable Enzyme, Non-Animal Rennet)
- Sourdough bread
- Miso soup
- Apple cider vinegar
If you can include a different probiotic rich food each day, particularly in the winter time, your gut health will be primed to help your body process food and avoid winter weight gain.
Learn more in 8 Probiotic-Rich Foods that Boost Weight Loss.
5. Avoid Processed Foods
When the weather starts to cool, it’s more tempting than ever to fall back on processed foods and heavy, refined carbs. When you’re looking for how to avoid winter weight gain, this might be your most important change.
By eliminating highly processed foods from your diet, you can last the entire winter without gaining weight, whilst probably becoming your healthiest yet.
Cut out white flour, white bread, white pasta and white rice, packaged cereals, cookies, cakes and biscuits and substitute them with whole, unrefined varieties.
Avoid processed sugars, sodas, trans and saturated fats, and generally everything that is packaged and processed in the centre of your grocery store aisle.
By shopping around the perimeter of the store, you’ll get more in tune with the fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains - that are your winter prime time foods.
6. Intermittent Fasting
One of the healthiest things you can do at any time is intermittent fasting.
Especially in winter when you're likely to consume more calories, intermittent fasting is a wonderful way to balance your dietary intake out, whilst supporting digestion and fat burning.
Intermittent Fasting is a lifestyle practice that you can incorporate into your routine a few days each week - and once you get the hang of it, it's not that hard to stick to for very noticeable results.
Intermittent Fasting involves compressing all of your daily calories into a shorter window of time within a 24 hour period than you normally would.
In other words, if you had your first meal at 10am and your last at 6pm, your FASTING WINDOW is 16 ours and your FEEDING WINDOW is 8 hours.
16 hours of fasting per day done regularly, will cause your body to produce ketones or to release fats as fuel. This process is known as autophagy.
If 16 hours is too long for you to go without food, start with a shorter fasting window and work your way up to the 16 hours over time as you adapt, which is considered optimum.
During your fasting period, you can drink all the clean water you like and it is ok to add lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, herbal tea and even organic black coffee into the mix without upsetting the benefits of your fast.
When breaking your fast, start with something light like fresh fruit or a fruit smoothie, then move into more concentrated whole food choices as you progress throughout the day.
Try a big green salad at lunch time with chunks or avocado, cherry tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, sprinkled with walnuts and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.
For dinner, have a hearty soup, vegetable bake or stir fry.
Learn more in Fasting: What You Should Know.
Some additional tips on how to avoid winter weight gain:
- When you rise, drink 500ml of filtered water with the juice or a fresh lemon mixed in and a pinch of sea salt. This will aid digestion as well as give your cells much needed, protective vitamin C (can be done whilst intermittent fasting as won't break your fast);
- Drink coffee in the morning and not after mid-day. Ensure it is organic, drink black if you can, or at least choose healthy plant milks to add;
- Have some wholesome snacks handy at all times. Go with raw nuts, seeds, dried fruit and/or Pulse Sacred Meals or Cornucopia
- Get enough sleep. Not only are we more tempted to eat junk food when we’re tired, but we’re also less motivated to exercise, more susceptible to stress (which can also lead to weight gain), and our bodies have less time to reset and recover.
- Take it one day at a time. Making small, but right choices throughout the day for our diet and activities will make all the difference come next summer.
- Essential Oils can calm and balance, or even distract you from winter food cravings.
Avoiding winter weight gain is not just about staying energised and healthy.
The goal is to create a lifestyle where you don’t have yoyo weight gains seasonally and to make you less susceptible to illness and disease.
Finding an exercise routine and food diet that works no matter the season is most important; with a few small tweaks in the winter time, you’ll stay active without having too many drastic changes.
Find more health products at our store to help you on this health journey.
Tolman Self Care.