How to avoid winter weight gain


Do you find yourself gaining weight every winter? You're not alone. But Trisha Calvo of Shape Magazine says winter weight gain can be avoided.

How to avoid winter weight gain

Winter weight gain isn't all Thanksgiving dinner's fault. You might be surprised to hear about some hidden culprits. Here's are some tips to avoiding winter weight.

  • Some people, winter weight gain happens because they do not process leptin, the hormone that controls hunger, as well during the winter. Hence, they feel hungrier than they would during the warmer months. There are two things you can do to process leptin better:
  1. Get more good sleep. A well rested body processes leptin more efficiently.
  2. Get more zinc. Zinc is a mineral found in foods like brazil nuts, whole grains, and in many fruits and vegetables. A multivitamin that contains the daily recommended dose of zinc is a good option.
  • We spend less time outdoors moving around when its cold and more time snuggling up under the covers. Less movement=less calories burned. Studies have shown that in general people burn 100 fewer calories during the day in the winter than in the summertime.
  • To beat winter gain, be more active. You don't even have to go to the gym. 15 minutes a day taking a brisk walk will burn about 100 calories. So will climbing the stairs in your house or doing situps/squats/pushups for 15 minutes.

JENNIFER: Hi I'm Jennifer Morris for howdini. Okay what is it about the winter months that makes you pack on the pounds? But thank goodness Trisha Calvo is here, executive editor from Shape magazine to tell us what we can do about it. So why do some people tend to gain more weight during the winter?

TRISHA: Well it's really because some people don't process the hormone leptin as effectively in the wintertime as they do during the warmer months. And leptin is a hormone that controls hunger. And basically you're hungrier.

JENNIFER: So is there something we can do about, is there something we can do...

TRISHA: Yes there are actually two things you can do. One thing you can do is to get enough sleep. Sleep helps you process leptin more effectively. You're just much more efficient at it when you are will rested. So don't skimp on sleep during the winter. And then the second thing you can do is get enough zinc. Zinc also helps your body process leptin and zinc is a mineral that's found in Brazil nuts, in whole grains, and in a lot of different kinds of fruits and vegetables. And you do want to just make sure you're getting enough zinc in your diet.

JENNIFER: Would you recommend taking a zinc supplement as well?

TRISHA: I think that you could take a multivitamin and a multivitamin will have 100% of the RDA for zinc and I think that should be sufficient. I don't think you need to take individual zinc supplements.

JENNIFER: Okay and we tend to cocoon and be less active during the winter, what about that?

TRISHA: Yes and that's the other contributing factor to winter weight gain. It's just a natural thing, you know, in the summertime you're outdoors a lot. You're moving around a lot more. In the winter you just want to stay--

JENNIFER: You want to be under the covers!

TRISHA: You want to be under the covers; you want to stay warm in front of the fireplace. But, there have been studies that show you burn 100 fewer calories in the winter during the day than as you do in the summertime. And you know that doesn't sound like a lot, but it really can add up pretty quickly because there are 3500 calories in a pound so in 35 days you could have gained a pound. So what you want to do is you want to compensate for that by being more active. One great thing you can do is to go outside and take a walk. Ten minutes, fifteen minutes you burn about a 100 calories. If you don't want to go outside because it's too cold and you're not willing to bundle up, then you might just climb the stairs in your house. Fifteen minutes of that too will burn about 100 calories. And even just fifteen minutes of doing situps, pushups, jumping jacks, squats while you're watching television will also help you burn about that same number of calories and that way you're being even.

JENNIFER: Yeah so there's lots of little things you can do in the house, you don't even have to go outside.

TRISHA: You don't even have to go outside. Or to the gym

JENNIFER: Yes. Thank you Trisha so much. I'm Jennifer Morris for howdini.

meet theexpert
  • Trisha Calvo

    Trisha Calvo Executive Editor, Shape Magazine Trisha Calvo has been a health and nutrition editor for more than 15 years, joining Shape in 2005 as deputy editor for health and nutrition and became the executive editor in 2006. more about this expert »

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