Winter Weight Gain: 5 Reasons Why It Happens

Winter Weight Gain: 5 Reasons Why It Happens

December is the month when celebrations, vacations, and lots of eating take place. If you succumb to the power of hot chocolate, candy canes, and pumpkin spice lattes, then your caloric intake dramatically increases. Then New Year’s Eve rolls around and you treat yourself to appetizers and libations. January arrives and the weather is still cold, decreasing the likelihood that you’ll go out and get a gym membership like you said you would.

Even though you may not gain 15 pounds, winter weight gain is a real thing. Shorter days, longer nights, and colder weather trigger the human’s animalistic urge to survive. Winter weather also gives people the desire to enjoy more comfort food in an effort to stay warm. And people continue to enjoy these heavy meals long after the holidays are over. Finally, fat cells are also more sensitive to sunlight, which is something that lacks during the winter. All of these things make gaining weight during winter a lot easier than you could ever imagine. 

You don’t have to let winter control your weight when you are aware of why weight gain happens. Even though the holidays are over, winter still has its ways of tempting you. Continue reading to learn about common ways people gain weight during the winter. 

Changes In Sleep Habits

The lack of sunshine and colder temperatures can negatively affect your sleep habits. When you cannot maintain healthy sleep patterns, you are more prone to overeating and choosing less nutritious foods. According to registered dietitians, the darker days and cold can cause people to hit snooze on alarms more frequently. This can throw off eating times, and may even cause people to skip breakfast because of rushing to leave the house. Skipping breakfast can lead to drive-thru breakfast orders or overeating later in the day. It may even cause higher sugar cravings

People Eat More Like Animals

Researchers suggest that humans tend to eat more like animals in colder climates. Colder temperatures activate the internal drive in the same way as it does in animals. This means that the body craves more calories to gain fat in order to promote internal insulation. When you’re cold, the body burns more calories to raise the core temperature, causing people to eat and refuel the tank. There’s nothing wrong with eating more, but choosing nutritious options over unhealthy foods is often the obstacle to overcome. Choose hearty stews with potatoes, legumes, and vegetables and bowls with whole grains and roasted vegetables to fill up with nutrients. 


You’d think that summer is the most common season to experience dehydration, but hydration issues still occur during the colder months. When the temperature drops, people don sweaters, scarves, beanies, gloves, and more. These clothing items cause people to sweat, just as outdoor heat causes people to sweat during summer. When the body is in a state of dehydration, it’s common to reach for additional calories to consume. It’s understandable that you don’t always want to drink cold water, so consider drinking herbal, caffeine-free teas to help promote hydration during winter.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Shorter days and lack of sunshine can have a significant affect on your mood. Sometimes, it takes moving to a place that experiences more sunshine and warmer weather to realize that they help lift your spirits. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression caused by seasonal change. As is typical with mood disorders, SAD can cause poor diet quality that ultimately leads to weight gain. Although exercise can help boost mood and counteract weight gain, a dietary change is often necessary. 

People Don’t Exercise As Much

Naturally, the winter cold doesn’t entice people to exercise outside, although there are some people who run no matter the conditions. Failure to spend time in the sun and outside can lead to the previously mentioned SAD. Lack of exercise also contributes to weight gain during the winter. Some people postpone exercise in December and vow to resume their workout regimen in the New Year. This doesn’t always come to fruition, and people remain in an exercise lull until warmer weather arrives. With so many exercise apps and online workout videos, it’s easier than ever to workout whenever and wherever. Don’t let the weather dictate when you work out!



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