Does Cold Weather Cause Us To Store Body Fat?

Brrrrrrrr….it is an icebox here. With cold weather in the forecast I wanted to share a common questions if cold weather makes us store body fat? Does the cold weather cause your body to store excess bodyfat? Suprisingly, people think the cold weather causes them to become fatter. Many people that I train that have lived in warmer enviroments mentioned a major difference in their bodies when they moved to Nebraska. I have three theories of why this happens. 1.Decrease in activity levels, 2. Increase of appetite, and 3. Seasonal Affective Disorder. People that live in the warmer clients have higher activity levels. People are wearing less clothes and they want to look good when they are in shorts and more skin exposing clothing. In the colder climates it is very easy to wear baggy clothes which can cause a lack of consistency in their fitness and nutrition routines. People in warmer environments have fresh vegetables and fruits more available. Personally in the winter months, my desire for fresh vegetables decreases drastically. Also my water intake decreases. Both of these things are key elements in fat loss. Typically, in Nebraska, we have a bulk and a cut part of the year. The winter time is a great time to add some extra mass and increase strength for men…but for women this can cause a yo yo effect causing excessive body fat storages in stubborn areas. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) better known as the “winter blues,” and is a form of depression caused by the short days and long nights. Symptoms include depression, cravings for blanket type foods, decrease of energy, oversleeping, and a lack of motivation. In the fitness world, you can almost guarantee an increase of bodyweight/bodyfat during this season. Now does your metabolism slow down in the fall and winter months? Typically if you watch squirrels, bears or livestock you will notice an increase of appetite and a reduction of activity levels preparing for the harsh winters and body fat storages. But does this mean your metabolic level is slowing down? Studies show exposure to cold temperatures that we actually burn more calories. This is called shivering thermogenesis (heat production=calories burned). Now here is the flip side, and this explains alot of our weight gain in the colder months!!! If you use extra calories for shivering, you will compensate later for energy loss by INCREASING your appetite! So now we understand that the cold burns more calories, but we will eat more later to compensate…so I think we should exercise outside in the frigid temperatures..NOT! Studies show that cold induced vasoconstriction of peripheral adipose tissue may account, in part, for the decrease in lipid mobilization. So in conclusion, exercising outside will not speed up fat loss:) Pedometer research published in the journal Medicine and Science and Sports and Exercise uncovered a huge difference in the number of steps taken between the summer and winter months. 7616 steps per day in summer 6293 steps per day in fall 5304 steps per day in winter 5850 steps in spring Seasonal weight gain can be very small and really creep up on you. Many people hold onto the weight until the following year. Now fast forward 10 years and this is the common scenario of people that mention all of sudden they found themselves 15#-20# heavier just like that. Typically people in the age bracket of 40-45 mention this on fitness orientations. To summarize, we need to increase our activity during the colder months and really become in tune with your appetite. Do not let the creeping pounds jump on you…be careful!! Here are 5 tips to help you fight this creeping weight gain during the colder months!

1. Try Green Giant vegetable steamer to help with your vegetable intake.
2. Add lemon to your water to increase your water intake
3. Try low sodium chicken broth soups to help with fluid intake
4. Pack your gym bag and leave in your car. Do not go home after work before going the gym.
5. Join in group accountability fitness programs. ( Boot Camps, Group X classes) at Good Life Fitness/N-10sive Boot Camps
6. Form a support system. Join online fitness groups to help with your accountability!
7. Sign up for organized running clubs. (Ex). Many marathon groups are starting February 16th.
8. Hire a personal trainer. A personal trainer can offer expert advice to help you stay motivated.
9. Join your company’s wellness programs. Rewards are a motivator to your success!
10. Most important, choose fitness programs that give you the best bang for your time! N-10sive Boot Camps burns a minimal of 500-1,000 calories in only 1 hour!!!

sources: Tom Venuto, Burn the Fat Feed The Muscle Naval Medical Research

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