Winter weight gain: Insights from doctors on causes, healthy fat loss strategies

A player is pictured during his “Futbol de Peso” (Soccer of Weight ) league soccer match, a league for obese men who want to improve their health through soccer and nutritional counselling, in San Nicolas de los Garza, Mexico, September 16, 2017.—Reuters 

Winter weight gain is real and terrifying and conventional wisdom suggests you can, on average, put on five or more pounds during the colder months. 

While this figure may be somewhat exaggerated, health professionals confirm that winter weight gain is a genuine phenomenon.

Dr Kunal Shah from the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center acknowledges the prevalence of winter weight gain among patients, a sentiment echoed by Dr Dina Peralta-Reich, director of New York Weight Wellness Medicine. 

They emphasise that this weight gain is often linked to dietary habits, especially during the holiday season, where indulgent eating and increased alcohol consumption contribute to the phenomenon.

Contrary to the widely cited five pounds, studies reveal a more modest average weight gain during winter. One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found an average increase of 1.2 pounds, with many individuals beginning to lose weight after the holiday season.

Several factors contribute to winter weight gain, including dietary choices, decreased physical activity due to colder temperatures, and potential evolutionary reasons that suggest the body may store extra fat during winter.

To combat winter weight gain, health experts recommend mindful eating, particularly regarding carbohydrates and sugars. Monitoring alcohol intake is also crucial. Planning for social events, choosing drinks wisely, and savouring them can help manage calorie intake.

Dr Mir Ali suggests focusing on exercise, even indoors, during the winter months. He recommends body-weight exercises at home and suggests purchasing a resistance band for home workouts. Importantly, he emphasises maintaining weight rather than striving for weight loss during the holiday season.

Ultimately, doctors advise individuals to be mindful of their choices, stay active, and give themselves some grace during the winter months.

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