Tips For Beating Winter Weight Gain


We’ve probably heard (or uttered) every weight gain excuse ever imagined. But as it turns out, every one of us has a pretty good excuse for packing on a few extra pounds in the winter: our ancestors. According to recent research by the University of Exeter, humans have a legitimate subconscious impulse to overeat during the colder months: one that’s a survival hold-over from times when winter food sources were unreliable.

Add to this the fact that modern folks are faced with additional temptations this time of year—holiday parties, fatty foods, extra alcohol and reduced time outdoors—and winter weight gain might seem inevitable. Trust us: it’s not! Here are essential tips for winning the battle of the bulge this winter.

Eat smart.

If you read our post about holiday parties, you already know how to curb your food and alcohol intake in festive social settings. But knowing we’re predisposed to “portion distortion” this time of year, it’s time to re-think how we approach all of our winter meals. If you’re more of a plan-ahead, DIY type, this a great time to start a Sunday meal-prep practice with healthy, whole-food ingredients from Thrive Market.

Or, if you’re more of a day-of chef, sign up for a meal-prep service like HelloFresh, Freshly, Plated or Blue Apron.

You can also keep healthy, pre-portioned snacks (like those from Graze, PRANA Organic and UrthBox) around, and you’ll be less likely to binge on the holiday pie. Even better: make sure to send those sugary leftovers home with the guests.

Get moving.

Regular exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system and keeping holiday weight gain at bay. Also, it can help boost your energy levels, so even though you might feel tired and overtasked, it’s important to set aside at least 30 minutes per day, at least five days a week, to get your body moving.

Start by setting a goal that’s realistic for you, whether that’s doing a class with Daily Burn or Yoga Download 2–3 times a week, or training HARD for a Spartan Race six months from now. Note: if you work outside the home and are having trouble getting to the gym, try taking a break during the day to get outside for a brisk walk.

Get outside.

Speaking of the great outdoors…well, they can feel not-so-great this time of year. But since our moods are inextricably linked to Vitamin D intake--it’s important to get outside every day.

Now for some good news about winter: because your body is also working to maintain a comfortable core temperature, cold-weather activities will burn more calories! A healthy, 150-pound person will burn nearly 400 calories an hour shoveling snow—and more than 500 calories per hour cross-country skiing.

Stay well.

Nothing can derail a new workout or eating regimen like a nasty winter bug. Preventing the spread of germs isn’t rocket science, but it does require taking steps you might be tempted to skip during the rest of the year. Hand washing can be more effective than hand sanitizer, so be sure you’re using actual soap and water and washing your hands when needed throughout the day.

Gloves, scarves and bedding are also exceptionally efficient germ carriers, so be sure to wash or dry clean these every few weeks—and immediately if you’ve been sick! And, if you aren’t already taking a daily multi-vitamin or C supplement, now’s a great time to start.

Tim Stanley