How To Ward Off Winter Weight Gain: Five Steps You Must Be Following
By Rebecca Gawthorne – Dietitian & Nutritionist
We all know the saying “summer bodies are made in winter” and for the most part I’d say that’s true! You can’t expect to be rocking your hot new bikini in summer if you have been sitting on the couch all winter eating chocolate and doughnuts!
Each year, I have hundreds of clients coming to me one week before summer saying they want to lose the 2 to 10 kilos they have gained over winter. But unfortunately, it’s just not possible! You need to be eating healthy and exercising throughout the colder months to be ready for summer!
I understand that it’s not always easy to stay healthy and keep the winter weight off! Dark mornings, rainy days and cold nights can make exercise difficult and calorie-dense comfort foods very tempting. That doesn’t mean you need to gain weight during winter! I have coached hundreds of clients on how to stay healthy and keep the weight off all year round, not just in summer.
If you want to prevent the weight gain this winter, follow my five steps below:
1. Keep Warm & Move Your Body– Just because the temperature drops, doesn’t mean you need to hibernate to tracksuits and loose jumpers and become a couch potato locked! In fact, winter is the perfect time to train because exercising will get the blood pumping around your body and raise your core temperature, warming you up.
If you’re like me and feel the cold easily, invest in some warm training gear! I love Nike Long Sleeve Dry Fit and Promaker Sport Day Break Jacket. A good waterproof jacket for wet weather is essential too! I love the Oneill Waterproof. If you struggle to get out of your warm bed and train early in the morning, try putting a little heater next to your yoga mat to warm the area up!
2. Boost Your Immune System– Each year, around 1.5 million Australians take time off work due to the common cold. With the cool winter weather and the flu season peaking, it is important to look after yourself. Catching a cold creates a cycle that often leads to weight gain. Sickness means limited/no exercise and increased intake of comfort foods which results in increased calorie intake, reduced calorie expenditure and weight gain.
Foods high in Vitamin C aid in preventing colds and reduce the severity of a cold. Other essential immune boosting nutrients include Vitamin E, zinc, iron, selenium, probiotics, protein and unsaturated (healthy) fats. These nutrients will supercharge your immune system and help fight off infection.
Nourish your body this winter with seasonal citrus fruits high in Vitamin C including oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes and grapefruit. Garlic and onions, which contain compounds that stimulate the fighting power of two of your body’s key immune cells: macrophages and T-lymphocytes are also important for your immune system. Garlic is key, so chop, mash and press garlic into your stir-fry, soups and bakes. Seafood, nuts and avocados are also key immune boosting foods with their high mineral content needed to support a strong immune system.
3. Start Your Day in a Warm, Nourishing Way– Kick-starting your metabolism with breakfast is extremely important in winter! Many people skip breakfast in winter and replace it with coffee. This is one of the worst things for your metabolism and can lead to weight gain. Instead, try warm breakfasts like poached eggs with a side of cooked veggies, warm baked beans or smashed avocado on sourdough toast or a beautiful bowl of my warm Vanilla Coconut Porridge with dates, pecans.
4. Keep Your Fluids Up– Many people reduce their H2O intake during the colder months and replace water with coffee and hot chocolate! But it is just as important to stay hydrated in winter as it is in summer! Aim for an average of 2 litres per day, even in winter. If you don’t like cold water, try caffeine-free herbal teas or a glass of warm water with freshly squeezed lemon or lime. I like to add a Vida Glow sachet to my glass of water in the mornings to get that added nutritious benefits. The Vida Glow marine collagen range add a hint of flavour to your glass of water. My favourite is Peach Vida Glow.
5. Avoid the Calorie-dense Comfort Foods– Winter often means you say goodbye to light salads and hello to heavy, creamy meals like pasta bakes, cheesy lasagnes, hot pots and warm, sugar-filled desserts like puddings, cakes and slices. Warm foods are beautiful in winter to help warm your body up, so choose nourishing, vegetable-based options without all the added cream, oils, butter and cheese. Baked vegetables flavoured with fresh herbs, veggie soups, lentil veggie bakes and fruit-based sweet desserts are much healthier and will help prevent the winter weight gain.