WINTER WEIGHT GAIN FACTORS
BY CEO Robert Forster, PTHere’s a depressing piece of information: Americans put on half of our annual weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Years. On average, it’s estimated to be just two pounds a year, but research shows that people don’t lose it when the party ends. Those persistent extra pounds acquired over the winter too often accumulate year after year, eventually contributing to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. We gain weight during the winter months for different reasons. If you have a tendency to gain weight during the winter, it’s important for you to figure out what factors contribute to this tendency, and then plan accordingly. Simple changes in behavior will have enormous health benefits. Here are a few unexpected ways the winter months can lend to your weight gain:
Decreased Daylight HoursOne factor noted in winter weight gain is the decrease in Vitamin D. Our body absorbs Vitamin D from sunlight. As daylight decreases, so do our Vitamin D levels. And low levels of Vitamin D affect the hormone, leptin, which plays a role in appetite and metabolism. According to a study by the journal Medical Hypotheses; a fall in vitamin D in the form of circulating calcidiol is the stimulus for the winter response, which consists of an accumulation of fat mass (obesity) and the induction of a winter metabolism (the metabolic syndrome). Try getting outdoors during the daylight hours for exercise to maintain adequate levels.
Increased Holiday StressIf the holidays create excess stress for you, think of ways to reduce it. When your cortisol levels start to skyrocket, your weight tends to follow. Harvard Medical School researchers found that people who stressed over work, paying off bills and relationships gained more weight over 9 years than those who kept their cool. Not only do higher stress levels trigger your body to accumulate belly fat, you’re also more likely to self-medicate with the comfort foods. When you’re stressed, you don’t think as clearly. You become less attentive to your health, and are less mindful about what you eat. Exercise is the best stress-reducer around, and stress reduction is one of the best reasons to stay active, no matter what the season may be.
Frequent Bouts with the FluNothing derails your workout routine easier than getting sidelined from a cold or flu. A 2009 review in the journal Medical Hypotheses found that catching a cold may triple your weight gain. Animals infected with adenovirus-36, a virus that causes upper-respiratory infections in humans, were more likely to gain chub than those who stayed healthy. Same thing seems to hold true in humans, says Richard Atkinson, MD, clinical professor of pathology at Virginia Commonwealth University and director of Obtech Obesity Research Center. Evidence suggests that the bug increases the number of glucose receptors on your fat cells, causing them to grow bigger in size and number and saddling you with up to 35 extra pounds.
Turning to Carbs as Comfort FoodWhen we are more sedentary, we unconsciously turn to carbs to deliver a quick hit of the feel-good chemical, serotonin, and we start grabbing them more often during the cold months. From around October through early March, there are people who go into a hibernating depression. Research shows that seasonal affective disorder can trigger cravings for pasta, potatoes, rice, and that people with SAD can eat an additional 800 calories a day from carbs alone. Avoid the carbs and fill up on meals and snacks heavy with protein and healthy fats and you reduce the cravings for carbs.
Everyone Else is Gaining WeightThe flu isn’t the only thing that’s contagious, being exposed to obesity can make you pack on pounds, too. An oft-cited New England Journal of Medicine study found that you’re 57 percent more likely to be obese if you have a friend who’s fat and 37 percent more likely if your spouse is chubby. To make matters worse, researchers fear that the bigger our friends, the lower our motivation to stay in shape. A 2010 study in the journal Obesity found that people are less likely to consider themselves overweight when surrounded by other people who are bigger.
Go Into the Season with a PlanAt Phase IV, we can help you stay on track. We have 30 years of experience helping people manage their weight using science, not diet fads and gimmicks. We utilize metabolic testing to arrive at the optimum fat burning heart rate for exercise, making your workouts 100% productive. When heart rate specific workouts are matched with a periodized strength and flexibility program and combined with a nutrition regimen that is specific to your physiology you will experience sustainable weight loss.
Dallman, M. F., Pecoraro, N., Akana, S. F., et al. (2003) Chronic stress and obesity: a new view of “comfort food”. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 100: 11696–11701. McGrath J. Does ‘imprinting’ with low prenatal vitamin D contribute to the risk of various adult disorders?. Med Hypotheses. 2001;56(3):367–371
PHASE IV FUEL© Nutritional Optimization
Training is only half the battle when it comes to achieving the performance and body you desire. Food is the other. Just like with your training, a science-based approach to what you put in your body and when you do it has a great effect on your ability to achieve your athletic and health goals. The PHASE IV approach to health and fitness involves guided exercise and an easy-to-follow, “close-to-the- earth” diet. Both are designed for one singular goal: metabolic efficiency—to make you a better butter burner. But where do you start? How DO YOU construct a dietary program that addresses your unique personal physiology, genetics, lifestyle, and metabolism? Our thorough understanding of the intricate synergistic relationship between nourishment, lifestyle, exercise and enhanced metabolic function, will result in a science based program that defines exactly how to fuel your body, and the exact calories you need to fuel your workouts and lifestyle while managing your weight goals. With PHASE IV individualized programs and support, you will achieve your goals and create the body you’ve always wanted!