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Winter Wellness: Understanding How Winter Shapes Our Metabolism and Well-Being - MyHealth


Winter Wellness: Understanding How Winter Shapes Our Metabolism and Well-Being


Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Ragiinii Sharma

Written By Kirti Saxena
on Feb 3, 2024

Last Edit Made By Kirti Saxena
on Mar 18, 2024


Seasonal changes come with changes in metabolic rate, fat gain, and body functioning. Our body fits in and functions uniquely as per the calls of nature. Insulin resistance is increased during summer or early fall. Furthermore, fat production increases in our adipose and non-adipose tissues, which start storing fat to prepare for winter.

A study by researchers from the University of Copenhagen showed that the differences in light hours between summers and winters led to different metabolisms. The experiment helped us understand the eating patterns and hunger pathways affected by light hours during seasonal changes. Furthermore, a study on diabetes at the annual meeting of the European Association showed that exposure to natural light improves metabolism and prevents type 2 diabetes with a balanced diet and exercise.

Let’s delve deep and understand the bodily changes caused during winter.

Winter & Body Weight

During winter, a subtle shift in lifestyle impacts our metabolism, thus leading to changes in our weight. Winter comes with festivities, festive delicacies, cozy evenings by the fireplace, temptations of feasting, and much more contributing to changes in body weight. 

The several factors that contribute to weight gain can be:

  • Reduced Physical Activity: Low temperatures and the cold discourage individuals from outdoor activities, thus reducing physical movement. We get comfortable staying by the fireplace in our cozy blankets and avoiding movement even indoors. People avoid hitting the gym or even working out.
  • Decrease In Daylight: Sunrise in winter happens late while sunset happens much earlier, leading to short days, thus hampering the daily routine and lessening physical activity.
  • Longer Nights: We tend to feel sluggish during winter as nights are longer, and we end up sleeping for an extended period. This reduces physical movement, causing weight gain.
  • Change in Food Habits Due to Festivities: During winter, the intake of fats, which keeps the body warm, increases. People eat parathas stuffed with vegetables and fried in ghee, which aids in weight gain. We crave tea, cookies, cakes, and comforting food to keep us cheered. These foods are loaded with sodium, which can cause bloating and subsequent weight gain. Winter is considered the holiday season, with Diwali, Christmas, and New Year celebrations around the corner. Mindful eating and portion control become difficult due to family and peer pressure.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder: Also called SAD, it is a form of depression caused by seasonal change leading to mood swings, dip in energy levels, and inactivity. Lack of sunlight makes us feel gloomy and couched in corners, resulting in weight gain.
  • Insufficient Hydration: During winters, the water intake decreases, and people mistake thirst for hunger, leading to overeating.
  • Hormonal Changes: The cold temperatures cause hormonal changes in our body, leading to changes in individuals’ appetites.

It is important to understand these changes and their influence on our body for proactive management. One needs to acknowledge these changes and implement strategies to navigate the colder months, upholding a commitment to stay fit and healthy.

Strategies To Manage Weight And Improve Health In Winter:

The strategy that can be implemented for a healthier lifestyle during winter:

  • Get enough Sunlight: It is important to sit under the sun and warm yourself during winter to fulfill the body’s requirement for vitamin D and keep the symptoms of SAD away.
  • Indoor Physical Activity: Outdoor activities become difficult due to the cold, but one can surely hit the indoor gym; doing yoga or walking on the stairs can help one stay fit and healthy.
  • Being Mindful of the Diet: Seasonal fruits and fresh vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, rich in fiber and low in calories, should be added to the diet. Homemade stews and soup should be consumed instead of sugar-loaded dishes to keep you warm and fuller for longer, cutting down the hunger pangs for junk.
  • Changes To Your Routine: It might be difficult to make sudden changes to your lifestyle during winter, but one can start by switching to healthy snacks like peanuts and makhanas, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and consuming hot, homemade healthy drinks for overall well-being.
  • Have An Early Dinner: The body gets enough time to digest the food consumed and cleanse the toxins if dinner is finished at least four hours before bed. This will improve digestion, maintain the sleep cycle, and decrease the chances of high blood pressure and heart diseases.

Winter shouldn’t set you back but be an opportunity for you to approach a balanced diet that nourishes the body’s needs during winter. The winter diet plays a vital role in shaping individual well-being and weight.

Winter Diet for Weight Management

Winter comes with a variety of fruits and vegetables. These green leafy vegetables and seasonal fruits are packed with nutritional values and are believed to facilitate weight loss naturally. Let’s understand the dietary shift essential for weight management during winter:

  • Dates: Adding this Middle Eastern fruit to your diet can replace sugar with many health, skin, and hair benefits. This winter superfood is safe for diabetic people and good for weight loss.
  • Turnip: Shalgam is rich in Vitamin C and contains choline, which helps in better sleep and muscle movement. It should be consumed during winter for overall health benefits.
  • Carrots: They have the goodness of iron and vitamins A, K, and C, which are good for the eyes. It is low in calories and loaded with dietary fiber that aids digestion.
  • Sweet Potato: This vegetable is rich in vitamin B complex, vitamins D & C, calcium, and beta carotene, which reduce gastritis. Being a high-fiber and low-calorie vegetable, it can be consumed as a salad, soup, or baked and enjoyed as a part of your winter diet.
  • Pumpkin: It is not just low in calories but packed with nutrients, making it an excellent choice for a winter diet.
  • Spinach: It promotes weight loss by keeping us full for longer periods and curbing our appetite, leading to weight loss. It regulates low blood sugar and prevents constipation, making it a healthy choice in our diet.

During winter, one should indulge in occasional treats and incorporate seasonal and nutrient-rich foods that keep the body warm while meeting the body’s nutritional needs.

Navigate Through Winter With the Mindful Choices

Adapting to a healthy lifestyle during winter to meet the body’s needs is crucial. One should consume a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and expose oneself to sufficient sunlight to support metabolic health and maintain weight during winter. It is important to undergo checkups to examine illnesses common during winter and prevent and manage them by making the right choices. Redcliffe Labs has curated a special winter advance care package to help you check infections, inflammations, and other diseases common in winter. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential to avoiding health complications caused by seasonal changes.

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