How to Stay Lean Over the Winter

Winter Causes Our Bodies to Retain More Fat

The holiday season is officially here, which means the days are much shorter and far colder. Thanksgiving and Christmas are two holidays that can wreak havoc on your dieting, as well. These are two days that put a heavy emphasis on eating lots of food. While this overindulgence is essentially a holiday tradition, it can make it hard to stay lean over the winter.

Throughout the winter, it is our bodies’ natural instinct to gain weight. Our bodies retain more fat to provide us with higher levels of insulation to keep us warm. This also leads to lower energy levels, which, in turn, decrease our drive to exercise. This lack of energy urges our body to over-eat, according to research from the University of Exeter. Also, fewer hours of daylight cause us to want to sleep more often because of an increase in melatonin, giving us the sensations of “winter hibernation.”

While “winter hibernation” may seem like a good enough excuse to eat what you want and work out less than normal, it’s not worth it. If you let yourself gain extra weight over the winter, you’ll have to work out even harder to get lean for the spring and summer months.

Fitness Nation is here to help you avoid gaining any unnecessary weight this holiday season. We’re here to provide you with tips on staying lean over the winter.

Stay Warm

Staying warm sounds obvious, especially for those who live in areas with extreme winters. However, it’s an important step. As we mentioned, the cold forces your body to adapt. Your body will maintain excess amounts of fat to keep your body insulated.

By staying warm, you can trick your body into thinking it’s not as cold as it is. Make sure you cover your extremities like your hands, feet, face, and ears whenever you step outside. Even if you only go outside for a couple of minutes, wear gloves, wear a beanie, and cover your face with a scarf.

If you frequently exercise outside, do warmups in your home. Try to get a sweat started before you head out into the cold. Don’t forget to bundle up, too.

Increase Your Workout Density

What we mean by workout density is the amount of work or exercise you do in a given time period. Your caloric expenditure will be much higher if your workout density is greater. The simplest and most efficient way to do this is to reduce the time you rest. The longer your body has time to recover during a workout, the more likely it will be able to handle the intensity.

If you need to, try to set a time limit for yourself to complete as much of your workout as possible. Use this new time as a benchmark to try to beat in your next workout. You don’t have to work out for hours on hours to lose weight. What matters isn’t the time spent working out, but the work put in. If you work harder in less time, your metabolism is likely to increase, helping you stay lean.

NOTE: Only speed up your workouts if you are 100% confident in your ability to safely complete each workout with proper form.

Join a Group Class

The winter can make it hard to find the motivation to consistently work out. The cold weather and short days just sway you to stay cuddled up at home. If you are looking to stay lean, however, you need to find some motivation to get up and active. One of the best ways to do this is by signing up for a group class.

If you have a group of friends that are all struggling to find the motivation to exercise, join a group class together. Group classes provide you with a chance to work out while giving you a strong support system that holds you accountable. Fitness Nation offers plenty of classes to our members, including:

  • Cycling
  • Yoga
  • Kickboxing
  • Body Sculp
  • Pilates
  • And much more

While the weather makes you feel sluggish, when you work out in a group setting, a term known as the Köhler Effect occurs, which provides you with the motivation to work harder.

Eat Well

Eating well has to be the hardest part of staying lean during the winter. After all, holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas basically center around food. Even after the meal, you’ll probably come home with your fair share of leftovers. However, if you make these meals your cheat days, you can still stay relatively healthy. A study found that cheat days can help you stay on your diet. However, one important thing to remember is to focus on your portions and make sure you don’t stray too far from your traditional calorie intake.

There are countless other ways you can stay lean this winter:

  • Fill up on fiber-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grain, and beans. These quell your hunger and stimulate the appetite-controlling hormone leptin
  • Focus on portion control
  • Add spices to your diet that help with weight loss, such as turmeric and cinnamon
  • Reduce the amount of sugar you eat, especially in your beverages and processed foods
  • Cycle your carbohydrates

Watch What You Drink

This is very similar to what you eat. You are going to want to avoid beverages that have too much sugar, but there are certain drinks you may want to focus on. You should always be drinking water. While you should be drinking water constantly, winter changes things. During the winter, you won’t sweat as much, so you may not feel like drinking water. However, dehydration leads to overeating and tiredness. Your body will look for other ways to get energy like sugar.

You can also drink tea or coffee. Caffeine helps keep your appetite at bay, so it can help stop you from eating whenever you’re bored. The heat from these beverages also helps you warm your body up internally.

The winter can be a difficult time to stay lean and in-shape. The lack of sunlight and colder weather just sucks the motivation to get active right out of you. Instead, it’s replaced with an urge to cuddle up and indulge in comfort foods. However, if you are trying to stay lean and fit over the winter, there are countless ways to accomplish it. Fitness Nation is here to help by offering our members 24/7 hours, group classes, personal training, and more.