You’d think the season that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a heated blanket, a bowl of beef stew and a hunk of bread might be the worst time to expect to lose any weight.
But you can make winter the best time for weight loss. The chilly season has loads of advantages—not the least of which is that it’s chilly. Sound intrigued?
Here’s why winter is the best time to lose weight… and how to make the most of winter’s charms:
1. Have some soup.
You know you want to. Winter is traditionally soup season, and if you choose a low-fat vegetable-based soup, particularly if you start your meal with a cup, you can count on eating fewer calories during the meal. In a study done at Penn State University, people who had soup before lunch actually consumed a higher quantity of food, but 20 percent fewer calories at the meal, than when they had the same meal without a soup appetizer. The secret: You can eat plenty of a veggie soup without piling on the calories, plus it helps fill you up so you don’t eat as much during the rest of the meal.
Luckily, if you’re on Nutrisystem, you have access to tons of delicious, hearty and nutritionally-balanced soups that have already been prepared for you. Make sure to add more to your winter menu by customizing your next order. (Not sure how to customize your order? Click here for help >) Or, if you like your soup as a side dish, click on the link below for 16 Nutrisystem-approved soup recipes perfect for warming you up while you continue to slim down.
2. Hit the gym, the slopes, or the mall.
After the holidays, your opportunities for social activities tend to take a dive. What that means is that you have more time to focus on getting healthy and fit. Even better, once January 1 rolls around, many gyms and fitness programs offer deep discounts so working out is never cheaper. Can’t afford a membership? Think about the mall. Many malls open early in the morning to accommodate walkers who take advantage of the wide, well-lit, and pedestrian friendly “paths” with the added bonus of restrooms, water fountains and importantly, safety.
Don’t forget winter’s outdoor adventures, like skiing, ice skating, snow boarding, cross-country skiing and sledding. You can burn about 400 calories an hour just playing with your kids on their snow saucers and sled, says the National Personal Training Institute. Click here for a list of 12 more winter activities that torch calories >
3. Stay chill.
Research suggests that cold temperatures can trigger the growth of brown fat, which burns far more calories than white fat, which is more abundant in the body. Researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands found that being cold (though not to the point of shivering) can help you burn three to 30 percent more calories. (With its freezing cold temps, it’s no wonder winter is the best time to lose weight!)
Being outside can help, but you may have limited tolerance to winter weather. But studies have found that keeping the thermostat on the colder side can also help increase brown fat activity while also helping your body use glucose more efficiently. Too much glucose lagging in the bloodstream is a symptom of metabolic problems, such as prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. In one study, reducing indoor temperature to just 61 degrees resulted in brown fact activation.
4. Catch More ZZZs.
More hours of darkness and cooler bedroom temperatures can help you get more sleep, making winter definitely the best time for weight loss. That’s important because studies have found that not getting enough Zzzs is a risk factor for weight gain. The National Sleep Foundation suggests bedroom temperature should be between 60 and 67 degrees F for the best sleep. It’s your body’s natural state for sleep. Your body temperature actually drops to put you to sleep so keeping the thermostat a little lower will help you drift off faster. They also recommend that, like bears, you encourage some winter hibernation by keeping the room in cave-like darkness.
5. Embrace the motivation.
Ever hear the phrase “Summer bodies were made in the winter?” It’s true! You may have months before you have to worry about how you’ll look in a sleeveless dress or a bathing suit, but think of winter as the gift of time to pare off pounds and get healthier.
And don’t just focus on how you’ll look. Losing just five percent of your body weight can help lower your cholesterol, stave off diabetes, and lower your blood pressure. You can pick a goal, like a spring or summer 5K to raise money for your favorite charity, and take the entire winter to train for it.
The post 5 Surprising Reasons Winter is the Best Time to Lose Weight appeared first on The Leaf.