Preventing Winter Weight Gain

Magazine articles, TV, ads… Do people gain an alleged 10+ pounds (4.5 kgs) between Thanksgiving and the New Year?  If you fear holiday weight gain coming your way, think again.

Average winter gains

For an individual who is not presenting with an overweight or obese body mass index (BMI), the average weight gain has been shown to be at an average of 1.1 lbs (0.5 kgs). (1)  Unfortunately, as one maintains weight in the overweight or obese category, it is more likely that he or she puts on extra weight during the winter months.  According to a study in Nutrition Review, that extra weight can be as much as 5 lbs (2.3 kgs). (2)  Over the years, extra poundage each year can be catastrophic to your physique.

Best way to maintain or lose weight

To lose or maintain weight, focus on calories first.  The bottom line is that calories count most when it comes to any change in weight.  The best (and only) way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than your body burns.  When that sinks in…

There are strategies to keep calories low

During the winter season, it is easier to eat out more, take extra servings at the holiday dinner table and drink festive, fun-colored beverages.  What to do in these instances…

PORTIONS.  It’s so cliche, it’s almost offensive.  Take a look at your plate and remind yourself that if you like it, you can always wrap up half for later or try it again another time.

EAT IN.  Eating out is awesome, but the portions are 2-3x larger than normal.  Eating in allows you to control both portion size and ingredients. Plus, it is fun to make stuff 🙂

MORE FRUIT.  Again… so cliche… offensive.  The amount of fiber in a piece of fruit (4 grams+) for the low amount of calories is the best deal ever.  For only a small calorie spend you can feel full instantly– and taste the sweetness.  What more can you want in life?

MORE VEGGIES.  Fiber and nutrient-dense, eating more vegetables is the easiest way to upgrade your plate from zero to super healthy. Plus, veggies are low in calories for the amount they fill up your belly (again, think fiber).

“SCRAPE” HOME-MADE DESSERTS.  There’s a whole buffet of desserts, and you want… all of them.  Instead of taking a slice or a whole piece, use the “scraping method.”  Nope, you won’t find this on google or wikipedia.  Scrape the serving knife of the dessert of choice onto the edge of your plate, creating 1-2 bite sized portions.  Have around “five bites” of different desserts.  Yum!

DOWNGRADE YOUR DRINK.  Do you really need the spiked apple cider with cinnamon whip?  Okay, maybe you do 🙂  But you probably don’t need two of them.  Downgrade your drink by choosing the less “spicy” types.  Examples: festive, colorful drinks add on a minimum of 100 extra calories.  Wine, light beer, vodka with diet soda or seltzer drastically reduces total calories for the night.  Yesterday’s post reviews how alcohol can affect your physique.

Bottom-line…

The fact of the matter is that most people tend to eat too much food — too many carbs, too much fat, and too much protein, not to mention too much alcohol– this all leads to an excess of calories and weight gain.

During the holiday season, people eat too much and exercise too little.  If you slash your dinner plate in half and go to the gym a day or two more than normal, great things can happen.

Sources:

(1) Yanovski JA, Yanovski SZ, Sovik KN, Nguyen TT, O’Neil PM, Sebring NG.  A prospective study of holiday weight gain. New England Journal of Medicine. 2000;Mar 23;342(12):861-7

(2) Roberts SB, Mayer J. Holiday weight gain: fact or fiction? Nutrition Review. 2000;Dec;58(12):378-9.


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