Every year, millions of Americans make the New Years' resolution that this will be the year that they lose weight...and often, by the end of the month, that resolution has gone out the window. But, why is this so? Why is it so difficult to lose weight, especially in the winter? This article will examine the science behind physical activity, metabolism, and how they relate to weight loss (and gain) in cold weather.
Physical Activity in Winter and Weight Loss
The first concept we must consider before deciding if this is truly a myth is in regards to physical activity. Most of us understand that there are 3500 calories in one pound of fat--and therefore, in order to lose one pound of weight per week, we must cut out or burn an average of 500 calories each day. While it is possible to eliminate 500 calories from your diet, most individuals find it more enjoyable to use a combination of physical activity along with diet restriction in order to cut these calories. As a basic guide, you can assume that by exercising for 60 minutes per day at a moderate to high intensity, you can burn between 300 and 500 calories. That means you only need to cut 200 (and sometimes even fewer) calories from your diet in order to achieve the goal of losing one pound per week.
Obviously, being physically active is an easy way to achieve and maintain weight loss. But, in the winter months, when it is cold, icy and snowy outside, it can be difficult or even impossible to exercise. Shorter days make you feel tired earlier, preventing a trip to the gym. And, it's just so frigid outside, you can't bear the idea of heading to your usual yoga class. The lack of regular physical activity in the winter definitely contributes to higher levels of weight gain during the winter months.
Metabolism in Winter and Weight Loss
Now, let's consider how your metabolism acts in the winter and how this affects weight loss. While most of us understand that the metabolism is the part of the body that burns food; it also is essential to make sure the body is running efficiently. During cold weather, our metabolism is what helps to keep us warm. Without it, our core temperature would drop, and we would begin to suffer from hypothermia! By working harder, the metabolism is burning more calories.
This one is a difficult question to answer. The science behind the question dictates that we should actually lose weight during winter months. Our metabolism is revved, and is burning more calories than in warmer months. However, our inability to maintain our physical activity level results in fewer calories being burned, and more pounds being packed on. Find a way to get yourself to the gym every day, no matter what. It will help you maintain your weight loss goals!