What Causes Winter Weight Gain to Happen?
The winter months are notorious for being a time in which people gain weight. While this isn’t fun at all – particularly when it comes time to try to lose it again when we can’t hide it under bulky sweaters anymore – it is something that is absolutely normal. But what causes winter weight gain? More importantly, what can be done?
One piece of good news that you might enjoy is that if you do gain a little bit of weight over the winter months, you don’t need to torture yourself with guilt. While you may have added a little bit to the issue by eating more sugary and fatty treats, the cold of the winter actually packs on some pounds of its own. According to a study published in the Proceeding of the Royal Society B, it is a natural part of our makeup to put on a little bit of extra weight throughout winter months.
The researchers who conducted the study looked to evolution to see why this was the case. They consulted a computer model to be able to measure exactly how much additional weight a mammal would require in order to ensure survival when living outside in a harsh winter. They also looked into exactly why that additional weight is important. The reason they studied those factors is that they were looking into why our human ancestors would have evolved in this way. The issue that causes winter weight gain was found to be more deeply rooted in our past than once believed.
To start, the added fat acted as a bit of natural storage for emergency energy in case food became too scarce during the winter months. It was what helped our ancestors to stop from starving. After all, for animals living out in the wild during the winter, starving to death presented a far greater threat than obesity and the heart disease and diabetes that it can cause over time. What causes winter weight gain is actually an instinct meant to help, not hurt us.
Even though starvation during the winter doesn’t pose as much of a threat to the majority of us, our bodies haven’t evolved in order to recognize that. Therefore, we continue to run on the instinct that it is necessary to put on a bit of weight in order to survive the winter, even though the same threat no longer exists. Our situation has changed but there simply hasn’t been enough time for evolution to have a shot at correcting the signaling situation.
Even worse is the fact that we not only don’t typically have a food shortage during the winter but we tend to eat even more than usual during those months. Over the holidays, we eat far more calories than we could ever possibly require. This is occurring at a time when our bodies are programmed to pack on as many pounds as possible.
So instead of feeling guilty for putting on a touch of weight over the winter months, recognize that it is a part of our natural makeup…and that it’s up to you to make smart eating choices and to stay regularly active so you can take control over your own weight.