How to lose weight during the winter months

It’s not easy maintaining your ideal weight during winter. It’s that time of year when exercise and healthy eating normally take a back seat as colder weather drives us indoors, and spikes our kilojoule consumption.

The best way to stay motivated during this time, is with a personal trainer who can offer you a realistic, effective exercise schedule. It’s also worth seeing a dietician to find out how you can adjust your energy intake for the colder months. Visit www.myhealthandfitness.co.za for a comprehensive list of consultants.

It’s not just about working harder though. Getting enough sleep is as essential if you want to reach your goal weight, and winter is the ideal time to catch up on your shut-eye.

Curb those unhealthy cravings

When you don’t sleep enough, it can trigger overeating. Studies note that sleep deprivation may affect your appetite hormones leptin, ghrelin and insulin, so that you feel hungrier, burn fewer calories, and store more fat.

A study by the University of Chicago found that people who were sleep deprived were more likely to snack on unhealthy foods like cookies, candy and chips, even if they’d just had a meal. “We found that sleep restriction boosts a signal that may increase the hedonic aspect of food intake, the pleasure and satisfaction gained from eating,” said Erin Hanlon, a UChicago research associate in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism.

Another reason for extra snacking is to boost our energy levels. For each hour of sleep we lose, our body needs extra kilojoules to function. The problem is that we tend to consume way more kilojoules than our bodies actually need when we’re lacking sleep.

Listen to your internal clock

It’s not just about sleeping enough though, but also sleeping at the right time. According to a study by the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, people who stayed up late every night and slept until late in the morning tended to eat more calories and fast foods, fewer fruits and veggies, and they weighed more than those who got to bed earlier and woke up earlier.

The study also found that eating at the right time made a difference and that the time of day had an influence on metabolism.

“Human circadian rhythms (your body’s natural 24-hour biological cycle) in sleep and metabolism are synchronized to the daily rotation of the earth, so that when the sun goes down you are supposed to be sleeping, not eating,” explains senior author Phyllis Zee, M.D., medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Feinberg and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

“When sleep and eating are not aligned with the body’s internal clock, it can lead to changes in appetite and metabolism, which could lead to weight gain.”

Staying up late often means you are eating at odd hours late at night when your body is not able to process the food optimally.

Give your body what it needs

Not only does sleep impact your eating habits, it is also an important time for your body to recover. When we sleep, our body releases a growth hormone that stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair.

When you’ve had a good night’s rest, you’re bound to get more out of your gym session the next day. Not only will you push harder mentally, but you’ll also be stronger physically and tire less quickly.

So, make the most of the longer nights and catch up on your R&R. Your body will thank you for it.

About My Health and Fitness

Welcome to My Health and Fitness, a rich source of articles to help you become the best version of yourself. From diet to exercise and general health, our content contributors (including Biokineticists, Physiotherapists, and Fitness Professionals) will cover all your frequently asked questions and more!

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Disclaimer: Our articles are not meant to replace any medical advice as given to you by your doctor or healthcare specialist. Always consult your doctor before trying out a new exercise routine or making drastic changes to your diet, especially where pre-existing conditions are applicable.

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