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Why Winter Weight Gain Happens And What We Can Do?

Mar 16, 2008
Winter weight gain has been a common complaint of many people. It seems that every winter we add a few pounds. But the downside to this is that come summer we don't lose them all. Obviously with time this adds up. As few of these pounds stick around they are making us a little heavier every year. What is even worse is that it seems to be very hard to lose these extra winter pounds. Why does this happen and what can we do?

There seems to be several contributing factors. First, it seems likely that we have a natural genetic inclination to store more fat as winter approaches. Many animals do this and it was probably vital to survival for our ancestors. Extra layers of adipose tissue on the body protect us against the cold. It is then used as fuel in the late winter and early spring when food stocks would historically be very low due to the now melting frost. Equally important we probably have a tendency to eat more in the fall, when food is plentiful after harvest time, to help this process along. An we may also unconsciously tend to choose fatty foods at this time.

Another likely reason for this seasonal weight gain is the influence of hormones in our body. The flactuations of hormones and other chemicals in the brain can result to variations in appetite and cravings. Some neurotransmitters can also influence the way we eat.

Overweight individuals often have low levels of these neurotransmitters and the results can include excessive appetite, depression and sleep disorders. At the same time, the lack of daylight caused by the shortening days during late fall and winter can bring on seasonally affected disorder or winter depression. An effective way to give a boost to the energy levels and emotions is to eat high carbohydrate foods including sugar treats like chips, cookies and cereals that give us a fast blood sugar 'fix'.

Generally the people that feel low in the winter will tend to overeat or eat the wrong foods due to this seasonally induced depression, leading to weight gain. This weight gained may then lead to more depression statring a vicious cycle that is hard to break.

Evidently there are many reasons why we eat more high carbohydrate foods such as cookies, pies and chocolate in the winte. Not to mention that most of these foods also contain high levels of fats. The best way to handle this is generally to substitute the highly fattening foods with other similar foods that are also high in carbohydrate so that we get what our body craves, but which have low fat content and plenty of fiber. This means potatoes, wholegrain bread without butter, wholegrain rice, cereals, and fresh whole fruit.

And not to forget, we need to include exercises inspite of the chills. Often our physical activity levels drop in the winter and we have a tendency to want to stay home and rest. Though natural, we should realise we are not cavemen. We have heating in our homes and can be sure that there will still be plenty of food in the stores come February. So we do not need to build up body fat the way that they did. Get some exercises by signing up with a gym or get a stationary bicycle for optional inhouse training. Burn those carbs into energy now instead of keeping them on you until spring in preparation for your swimwear. You can easily avoid Winter weight gain this way.
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