The swimsuit and shorts have been packed away, the bicycles and hiking gear are in storage and the leaf has been added to the dining room table in anticipation of a huge roasted turkey for Thanksgiving, a huge glazed ham for Christmas and tons of goodies in between. Winter is settling in and we have already forgotten what is was like riding bikes in the evenings and hiking mountain trails on weekends. This winter, if typical, you will gain two to four pounds without even working up a sweat.
Some people believe that we tend to eat more in the winter as a way to keep ourselves warm, but this proves to be a myth. In fact, studies show that people who carry excess weight actually feel colder. We would explain the science behind this, but we are sure you have better things to do with your life than read through a mess of words you don’t really understand.
We could be, however, genetically programmed to eat more in the winter, but for reasons other than staying warm. In our ancestor’s time, the months of winter were often times of little food. There are theories that we are genetically programmed to increase stores of fat in the fall months to help us survive the winter. In some ways, we assume, the same thing hibernating mammals do.
Whether the theory is true or not, there is no longer a need to store fat in the autumn because when we get hungry in the winter, we order a pizza. A benefit our ancestors never enjoyed.
Research suggests that vitamin D, the vitamin we get from sunshine, plays a role in why we tend to gain weight in the winter. In order to properly synthesize vitamin D, our bodies need sunlight. But in the winter, days are much shorter and the adverse weather keeps people inside for long periods of time. And when you do finally go out, you are more likely to be wearing a hat, gloves and other garments that cover you up.
Scientists believe that a lack of vitamin D triggers fat storage and reduces the breakdown of fat, so the calories you consume are stored as opposed to burned for energy.
Of course, you can blame these reasons for your winter weight gain if you so desire, but you also need to realize you are at fault as well. During the warm months of summer, you spend time at the beach or go for long walks in the coolness of the evening, but come November, you flop on the couch and watch football and whatever is binge-worthy on Netflix.
In addition, you trade in hot chocolate for unsweetened ice tea, pop a bag of popcorn and dream about how much you are going to eat over the holidays.
So take responsibility for your winter weight gain and go the gym.