Summer is officially over and the cold nights are drawing in. Many of us forget about that summer body we worked so hard for now that we can pile on the layers of clothing, but it’s worth thinking about how you can keep off the winter weight.
As tempting as it is to stay indoors all winter mainlining stew and stodgy puddings, don’t use the cold weather as an excuse to neglect your healthy lifestyle.
After all, if you’ve worked hard to lose the weight for the summer you’ll be pretty pissed off if you have to do it all over again for the next time the sun graces Britain with its presence and you want to dust off the Speedos.
We sat down with some nutritional experts to find out the dos and don’ts of keeping that winter belly at bay.
How to keep off the winter weight
Don’t use cold weather as an excuse to stop exercising, as tempting as it is when it’s raining outside and your bed is sooooo cosy. Alix Woods, who is a nutritionist at Quest Nutra Pharma, says: “If you’re struggling to make it to the gym or you’re just too cold to leave your heated house, there are loads of fitness apps you can download to give you a good workout.”
And what workouts should you be doing? “Do 30 minutes of interval training 3-4 times a week. High-intenisty interval training (HIIT) allows the body to burn more calories over a shorter time than steady cardiovascular exercise such as long-distance running. This is due to the alternate periods of high-intensity training and low-intensity recovery times.” We like doing HIIT workouts purely because it’s over in 30 minutes, so there’s that too.
Whatever you’re into, keep it up.
Nutritionist and author of Fat Around The Middle Dr Marilyn Glenville says: “Protein slows down the rate that stomach processes food and delays the passage of the carbohydrates with it. As soon as you add a protein (be it animal or vegetable) to a carbohydrate, you change it into a slower releasing carbohydrate, that helps to balance your sugar levels.”
High protein foods include eggs, chicken, peanut butter, tofu and Greek yoghurt and you could also boost your intake with a protein powder stirred into a smoothie.
Switch white for wholemeal
Marilyn suggests that you swap to whole grain alternatives that release energy slowly. “The carbohydrates in wholemeal bread are broken down slowly over several hours and so do not give any sudden flooding of sugars into the bloodstream. This gradual release helps you to feel full for longer, suppressing your appetite and making it less likely that you’ll crave sweet foods because you are not on the blood sugar rollercoaster.”
Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is really important, even when it comes to your waistline. It’s easy enough to say ‘get more sleep’ but we all know it’s not as simple as that (oh, but if it were…). Boost your chances of drifting off into a peaceful slumber by putting your phone away for at least an hour before bed so that your brain isn’t too stimulated. It can also help to top up your magnesium levels, either by taking a supplement or by incorporating magnesium-rich food into your diet. Try eating a banana before bed.
Eat for comfort
OK, so don’t eat for comfort too much. It doesn’t matter what anyone says about how we should find other ways of comfort: sometimes food just is comforting. You can’t beat sausages with a huge mound of mashed potatoes (and a cuppa on the side) when it’s miserable outside and you’ve just come in from work.
Marilyn says: “We need to remember to consume a varied and colourful diet and although comfort food has its part to play in our diets when it gets colder, we should remember to incorporate lighter meals too”. Stew is a good one which is comforting but doesn’t have to be fattening – this hearty beef stew is full of protein-packed beef and you can pack it full of veggies: leek, carrots, swede and potatoes would all work really well.
Eat on the run
Marilyn explains, “It gives your body the message that time is scarce, you are under pressure and stressed. Furthermore, your digestive system will be less efficient. Make a point of sitting down and eating your food as calmly as possible.” You don’t have to be meditating over your soup or anything, just take the time to pause and enjoy your meal.
Deny yourself the good stuff
There are some things which you only want to eat during the winter months and they’re not all going to be saintly. Pies, every kind of steam pudding slathered in thick custard, beans on toast and don’t even get me started on Christmas food. It’s all stuff you’re not going to fancy when the sun is shining so make the most of it. Just don’t go nuts. You know the drill: everything in moderation.
Are you a fan of the winter months? Let us know what you’ll be eating when the weather gets colder over on the forum.