As winter approaches it is easy to pile on a bit of weight.
The cooler months tend to mean hearty meals and less exercising outdoors.
Not to mention you can layer up in plenty of sweaters and scarves to hide the winter bulge.
But that inevitably means that, as the weather warms up again, you will frantically hit the gym and diet to get back into shape.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
There are several things you can make sure you do, or don’t do, as the colder months set in.
Here’s what you should be doing
Make sure you keep exercising and keep up a relatively healthy diet.
That’s the advice of three leading nutritionists.
1. Do interval training
Cold weather is no excuse to not exercise.
“Do 30 minutes of interval training three to four times a week,” said Alix Woods, a nutritionist at Quest Nutra Pharma.
“If you’re struggling to make it to the gym or you’re just too cold to leave your heated house, there are numerous fitness apps available to download that provide you with an interval workout.
“Interval training allows the body to burn more calories over a shorter time than steady cardiovascular exercise, such as longer distance running.
“This is due to the alternate periods of high intensity training and low intensity recovery times.”
2. Add protein
Protein keeps you fuller for longer, which means you will be less tempted by all the winter comfort food.
Marilyn Glenville, a nutritionist and author of Fat Around the Middle, said: “Protein slows down the rate that stomach processes food and delays the passage of the carbohydrates with it.
“As soon as you add a protein, be it animal or vegetable, to a carbohydrate, you change it into a slower releasing carbohydrate, that helps to balance your sugar levels.”
3. Switch to wholemeal
Wholemeal foods release their energy slower, which suppresses your appetite.
“Swap to whole grain alternatives that release energy slowly,” Marilyn added.
“The carbohydrates in wholemeal bread are broken down slowly over several hours and so do not give any sudden flooding of sugars into the bloodstream.
“Also, this gradual release helps you to feel full for longer, suppressing your appetite and stopping you craving sweet foods because you are not on the blood sugar roller coaster.”
4. Eat every three hours
This is good news for those who count down between meals.
Eating more often keeps your blood sugar levels stable.
“Try to keep your blood sugar levels and energy levels stable by eating regularly,” Marilyn said.
“Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a snack mid morning and one mid afternoon, with no longer than three hours between.
“I’d also suggest that you should try not to eat carbohydrates after 6pm.”
5. Get plenty of sleep
A good night’s sleep is vital for your body to be rested, have enough energy and to keeping the weight off.
Martina Della Vedova, a nutritionist at Natures Plus, said: “Sleep is a major factor for weight gain.
“Not sleeping enough or having bad quality sleep pushes our nervous system into an alarming state and as a response the body will slow the metabolism down and shifting pounds can become very difficult.”
She suggests taking a magnesium supplement before bed to help you sleep.
Things you shouldn’t be doing
As much as you want it — that pie and chips is still a no-no.
Unfortunately, so is your coffee.
1. Fad diets don’t work
Marilyn warned against fad diets that trick the body into thinking it is in a famine.
“Stop dieting and don’t count calories, otherwise your body will think there’s a famine and will raise your stress levels, which can contribute to fat storage,” she said.
2. Quit sugar
We all know that sugar isn’t good for us, but we eat that chocolate bar anyway.
It doesn’t leave us with long lasting energy, though, so we will be hungry again in no time.
Nutritionist Cassandra Barns said: “Sugar is quickly broken down into glucose in our blood – the type of sugar that converts directly to energy.
“Our blood glucose level goes very high at this point, and this is when we feel energized, but because high levels of glucose in our blood are harmful to the body, it releases insulin, which then quickly removes the glucose and stores it as glycogen or fat.
“This can then cause us to put on weight.”
3. Don’t skip breakfast
You’ve heard it once, we are saying it again: breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
“If you miss breakfast your body immediately registers famine and hangs on tight to your ample stores of fat,” said Marilyn.
“Make sure you choose healthy breakfast options such as eggs on wholemeal bread with avocado or rolled oats with fresh berries.”
4. Don’t eat on the run
It’s tempting to just eat on the way to work, or wherever you are going, to save time.
But it can make you gain weight.
Marilyn said: “It gives your body the message that time is scarce, you are under pressure and stressed.
“Furthermore, your digestive system will be less efficient.
“Make a point of sitting down and eating your food as calmly as possible.”
5. Skip the comfort food
This may be the thing you look forward to most in winter, but deep down you know it’s a bad choice.
“Winter is the season in which comfort foods are more present on our tables,” said Martina.
“Remember to consume a varied and colorful diet and choose foods rich in fibers such as sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, roots, legumes and pulses.
“These foods can satisfy a sweet tooth, comfort during cold days and prevent the scales shifting.”
6. Put down your coffee
This might get the most protesting.
But caffeine encourages your body to store more fat.
“As caffeine dehydrates, it can rob the body of essential minerals and cause excess glucose, which contributes to fat storage,” Alix said.
“Cutting out caffeine also avoids that immediate but short-lived rush of energy, which helps to reduce the chances of the infamous ‘fight or flight’ response, allowing you to keep a steadier energy level for the rest of the day.
“If you really need your caffeine fix, have one mid-morning without milk or with a dairy free alternative like oat, almond or coconut milk.”
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