Winter weight loss – temperature and light
You probably know the feeling of an increased appetite and trousers that get tighter during winter! It is easy to blame a more sedentary lifestyle and heavier foods. But what about all the other factors that influence weight gain during winter?
We are much more than just a digestive system and a bunch of muscles. The complexity of the human body is extraordinary, and many of the cues that regulate your body internally – from appetite to sleep, actually come from your environment.
So if you want to stay trim or even lose weight in winter instead of putting on a few extra kilos then follow these 4 factors:
1) Stay cool to speed up winter weight loss
Most people these days have the luxury of keeping their environments warm when the temperatures outside gets cooler. We move from heated houses to heated cars to heated offices and back again which makes our lives more pleasant but is inherently unnatural.
Your body has been designed to withstand colder temperatures by shivering which, like throwing more logs onto a fire, increases your metabolism and burns more calories. So don’t keep your environment too warm in winter as it might be making you gain weight!
Research has shown that women exposed to an ambient temperature of 27 degrees versus 22 degrees used less energy to tune of 239 calories per day: the equivalent of 30 minutes on a stationary bike or 1 hour of walking.
It’s also thought that the more we time we spend in temperate environments, the less brown fat (the special type of fat that chews up calories, turning them into heat and preventing them from ending up as body fat) we tend to have, which means that over time we are much more likely to store the energy from food than burn it.
2) Too hot at night makes you hungry
Being too hot at night can cause a restless night of sleep or even make you wake up during the night. This poor quality sleep reverses your appetite hormones the next day making you feel hungrier than normal which – you guessed it – leads to weight gain. The optimum temperature for sleep is about 20 degrees.
This doesn’t mean that you should spend the winter feeling cold, but you might want to reconsider the electric blanket and turning the heating onto full.
3) Get the light right to stop winter weight gain
When light hits your eyes during the day it tells your brain to make serotonin, which regulates your mood. When the light disappears at night your brain knows to make melatonin – which regulates your sleep. If you spend too much time inside during winter your body will make less serotonin and that makes you grumpy and want to reach for sugar. If spend more time out doors –you will help your body to lose weight automatically!
4) Light at night might make you gain weight
When we are exposed to light at night, and in particular the blue light produced by television and computer screens, the hormonal cues that make us sleepy are impaired. This stops us from sleeping well which makes us hungry the next day.
Top tips for winter weight loss
– Take your exercise outside whenever possible
– Avoid sunglasses especially during the morning
– Avoid watching TV and using computers at night
– Don’t over heat your environment especially in bed