Cold Weather Brings out the Carbs

Cold Weather Brings out the Carbs
Photo by Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune

It's not just you. Most people look to their favorite comfort foods in the fall and winter. Something about this time of year that brings out the heavy calorie and high fat foods that ultimately turn into winter weight gain. If this is you, here are a few strategies that might help you keep off the winter weight.

Don't Fight Nature
Channeling your inner Cavewoman a little much these days? When the temps drop, it's natural to crave high calorie and high fat foods. Fortunately we can stay warm with high-tech fabrics and modern heated dwellings, so try lowering the calories in you favorite comfort food by substituting healthier ingredients. Use lean ground turkey instead of ground beef for example. Make sure to stock the Cave with healthy snacks in stock like carrots instead of greasy potato chips.

Get Emotional
As the seasons change, so goes the sunlight and this affects people's mood and energy levels. Food cravings may also be tied to levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that improves mood, reduces appetite, and promotes sleep. Our brain’s production of serotonin is lowest in the winter months. Carbohydrate-rich food temporarily increases serotonin levels makes you feel better. Other research suggests comfort foods cause the release of dopamine, another feel-good brain chemical.

It’s important to learn what’s motivating you to want these foods. If you’re stressed out at the end of the day, take 30 minutes to relax before opening the fridge.

Improve your Mood
If you aren't already taking vitamin D and or a B complex every day, start. People in Chicago don't get enough vitamin D (from sunlight) in the winter months. I recommend at least 2000 IU a day, some people can benefit from even more. Vitamin B will give you more energy and help to keep your mind of sugary carb loaded foods.

Don't Skip
Finally, and most importantly - eat breakfast! Those cold dark Chicago mornings make you want to hit the snooze button a few extra times and put you in a hurry to get out the door. It is very important to break the overnight fast with a healthy protein rich breakfast and a glass of water to jump start your body for a more productive morning and keep your appetite in check all day.

Josha Krueger is a NSCA-CSCS certified personal trainer, an AFPA Sports Nutrition Consultant, and owner of Kru Strength + Fitness.

Filed under: Chicago, Nutrition, Vitamins

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