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5 tips to help you skip right past winter weight gain this year

5 tips to help you skip right past winter weight gain this year

Imagine this scenario: Spring arrives, and you find that the pants you fit into nicely last summer no longer zip up. That scenario is all too common thanks to the phenomenon known as winter weight gain.

It’s very common to gain at least a little weight in winter due to a number of factors. Weight gain isn’t inevitable, though, and you can take action to keep off those extra pounds this winter.

Ready to make some changes? The University Medical Center New Orleans team shares tips for staying healthy during the colder months and keeping extra weight away.

Why we gain weight during the winter months

Winter weight gain is a real thing! That’s true anecdotally, and it’s also true in research. In fact, one study published in 2020 found that body weight increased in winter as compared to fall.

Many factors prevalent in winter lead to weight gain. For one, the days are shorter, and the nights are longer, so we spend less time outdoors and being active.

Cold weather can deter physical activity, especially outdoor workouts. The winter months can also mess with your sleep routine, which can make you more likely to make poor food choices or to skip your workout.

These factors together create the perfect storm for gaining weight. Fortunately, you can flip the switch and steer clear of those extra pounds.

How to avoid winter weight gain

Begin the year with healthy habits, which can help you avoid weight gain. You’re less likely to lose weight during the winter months, but that doesn’t mean you have to gain it! Start here:

  • Fuel your body in a healthy way. When it’s cold and gray outside, it’s only natural to turn to comfort foods, but those high-calorie foods aren’t doing your body any favors. Instead of choosing rich foods or sweet treats, try different foods that curb your cravings in a healthier way. In-season fruits and vegetables, paired with lean protein and a good dash of NOLA seasoning, can tempt your tastebuds without adding to your waistline.
  • Watch the nutrition label. It’s best to choose whole foods as often as possible—fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, lean cuts of meat, and whole grains. When you need to choose packaged foods, look for items that have been minimally processed and contain few ingredients. Steer clear of foods that contain added sugar, excess sodium, and saturated and trans fat.
  • Make water your drink of choice. Staying hydrated can help you stay energized throughout your day. Water provides a satisfying, no-calorie way to curb your thirst, and you can flavor it with fruit or a sprig of mint. An occasional glass of unsweetened tea or black coffee is OK but make water your main beverage.
  • Get moving. While it may be more challenging this time of year to find the oomph you need to exercise, it’s so important! Stay active to be your healthiest and avoid gaining weight. Take advantage of milder temperatures and explore local options to get outside.
  • Revamp your sleep habits. When it gets dark earlier, like it does in winter, it can throw off your circadian rhythm, making it difficult to get the sleep you need. Not getting enough quality sleep can be harmful to your health, and it makes you more likely to gain weight. Set yourself up for sleep success by making your bedroom environment sleep-friendly (cool, dark and electronic device-free), creating a soothing bedtime routine, and going to sleep and waking up near the same time each day.

These habits are a good plan for curbing winter weight gain, but they can also be helpful throughout the year. Give your lifestyle habits a boost this January and watch your efforts pay off later!

Need a little extra help losing weight? Get in touch with the experts at The Center for Weight Loss and Bariatric Surgery at University Medical Center New Orleans to learn more.