Debunking a Myth: Winter Weight Gain

A quick Google search of “winter weight gain” reveals 28,700,000 results with link titles like “Winter weight: Surprising Reasons,” “Avoid Winter Weight Gain” and many more. It’s enough to make you believe that it’s an epidemic, spreading like the flu. Of course, with related searches that include “fall weight gain” and “summer weight gain,” you have to wonder just how real winter weight gain is.

Let’s start by remembering why weight gain happens in the first place. It all starts with an imbalanced energy budget. In other words, weight gain occurs when we take in more calories than we expend. Naturally, this can happen any time we lose sight of just how much we actually need rather than want–whether it is cold and bitter or warm and beautiful outside.

Cannon Mt. Winter Hike
Cannon Mt. Winter Hike / 3rd Eye Photographer / CC BY 2.0

This leaves us with the question of if we are more likely to become imbalanced in the winter.  Sure, there is the potential that the cold weather will have you staying indoors with a warm blanket instead of going for a walk or run. But, just curious, when was the last time you went for a long run when it was 95 degrees outside?

Maybe people worry more about winter weight gain because it seems to creep up on us and we don’t realize it has happened until we shed our bulky winter clothes. The easy fix for this is to simply pay more attention.

  • Weigh yourself weekly so you can stay on top of potential weight gain.
  • Increase mindfulness about your food choices by writing down everything you eat.
  • Commit to shopping for healthful foods so that your home is complete with the foods you need to stay on track.
  • Watch the weather too! The last thing you want to do is end up in your house on a snowy day with no food…or the wrong food.

The bottom line: Winter weight is not like the flu. You don’t need to worry that weight gain is looming around the corner any more than you need to when the spring buds are flourishing on the trees.  That said, if you find that these colder months have you moving less and wanting more rich foods, you increase your potential for gaining weight.  Reduce it by choosing recipes that can satisfy your desire for comfort without the extra calories.

I suggest starting with our healthy, slow cooker recipes, which make getting a healthful, warm dinner to your table easy while you do something else…like exercise. For some great ideas to get you moving during these cold months, check out my last post, Weathering the Winter with Fitness–it is sure to get you off the couch!