Cold weather effects on weight and hunger

pink_mint
pink_mint Posts: 102 Member
edited February 4 in Health and Weight Loss
Anyone notice the cold weather affecting these things from your experience? Is there any research on this?

I don't know if it's psychological or what. But weight loss is not going very well right now. I'm noticably hungrier and the scale seems to be hovering a few lbs higher.

Replies

  • kenziestabes
    kenziestabes Posts: 265 Member
    I would agree shorter days probably impact how much we move. There have been studies about energy levels and sunlight. Unless you have a home gym set up, it can also affect how often you dedicate time to working out, since sunlight and weather factor into whether the typical person will drag themselves to the gym or go running outside.

    As for food, we've culturally developed to make fattier, carb heavy foods in the winter. For one, grains are more shelf stable that fruits and veggies, which make them a good source of calories in times when fresh produce is scarce. That, and sodium rich dried meat or soups.

    Just speculating here, of course. I do think it's more behavior related than biology related, however.
  • SailorDoom88
    SailorDoom88 Posts: 12 Member
    I have always lived in northern latitudes where the days are short, dark, and cold this time of year. People tend to hunker down and hibernate where I'm from. So, I totally get this!

    I recommend working on your mental game when your body isn't feeling as nimble and energetic as it might in other seasons -- this could mean fine tuning some habits, setting up some new goals for the year ahead, self reflection and meditation, journaling, trying new recipes, going to a cultural/community event (there's always a bunch of Lunar New Year celebrations around my neck of the woods this time of year), or reconnecting with people. I think a lot of times we are lacking some of the same connections with people and our own bodies that longer days and warmer weather just seem to bring on naturally, which in my experience causes loss of motivation and a feeling of isolation.

    Additionally, maybe now is the time for a maintenance break -- give yourself a little self-care timeout to take a mental break from weight loss efforts and just focus on cementing your good habits. Even if you don't lose any weight for the next few weeks, you'll come out the other side of this with some great practice for when you hit your goal AND you'll be refreshed and focused for the season when your body wants to cooperate.

    There are some connections between lack of vitamin D (which you get from both diet and being out in the sunshine) and depression/seasonal affective disorder (SAD), among other diseases. In the past (before it was "bad") I would go to a tanning bed maybe 5-10 times throughout the winter, not to get tan but to be warm and feel some "sunshine". Now they have lights for that on Amazon, which is probably much healthier -- look up SAD lights or therapy lights.

    These days, I like to try to have a spring/summer goal that I visualize -- this is usually something like boating on Memorial Day weekend or a local spring mountain bike event that I usually participate in...just something to hang onto when I'm feeling in the doldrums and wondering if SPRING will ever come. I also like to sit in the sauna at the gym and get really warm -- that has a really cleansing and refreshing effect on me.

    I don't know where you live, but here in most of the U.S., daylight saving time begins in 5 weeks, so it will start to feel a little more like spring soon. Hang in there!
  • pink_mint
    pink_mint Posts: 102 Member
    Thanks for the thoughts, all!

    I live in north Texas so winter is really not that bad, but it definitely has an effect. I actually have gotten more walking (my primary exercise) in lately because it's easier to get outside without the extreme heat that we have most of the year here. The main factor is food. I'm just not able to eat at a deficit lately without troublesome hunger, crankiness etc.

    I am fluctuating between 9 to 14 lbs overweight for my height currently, after a 40+ lb weight loss total. I really would prefer to lose a good additional 20 lbs (would be a 60 lb loss total) and not just stay this weight or creep up. I have scoliosis so the more into the healthy weight range I can get, the better. I will consider taking a little maintenance break. I really don't want to give up though!
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,834 Member
    pink_mint wrote: »
    Thanks for the thoughts, all!

    I live in north Texas so winter is really not that bad, but it definitely has an effect. I actually have gotten more walking (my primary exercise) in lately because it's easier to get outside without the extreme heat that we have most of the year here. The main factor is food. I'm just not able to eat at a deficit lately without troublesome hunger, crankiness etc.

    I am fluctuating between 9 to 14 lbs overweight for my height currently, after a 40+ lb weight loss total. I really would prefer to lose a good additional 20 lbs (would be a 60 lb loss total) and not just stay this weight or creep up. I have scoliosis so the more into the healthy weight range I can get, the better. I will consider taking a little maintenance break. I really don't want to give up though!

    If day length could be a factor (speculating here), and you have a little disposable income, those SAD lights might be worth a try. I just started experimenting with one - too early to see if it makes any difference, and for me it's more of a mood-related effort than a food-related effort. (I did a little research, bought one on Amazon for around $60.)

    Do you supplement vitamin D? If not, might want to get a blood test at next doctor visit, if you can - before starting to supplement, so you get a better read on where you are. Severely low levels might call for a loading dose of quite a lot at first, but too much (for one's status) isn't a wonderful plan . . . so it's good to figure out where you are to start, IMO.

  • tisaboles
    tisaboles Posts: 1 Member
    pink_mint wrote: »
    Anyone notice the cold weather affecting these things from your experience? Is there any research on this?
    I don't know if it's psychological or what. But weight loss is not going very well right now. I'm noticably hungrier and the scale seems to be hovering a few lbs higher.

    My appetite changes when the weather turns cold. When I get home from work I can crave the oddest things for dinner like chocolate with tea or porridge with banana or raisins and powdered cinnamon. Beautiful to eat while tucked up on sofa/in bed.

    I allow myself to indulge a bit and then the craving for soups and stews kicks in :-)
  • missysippy930
    missysippy930 Posts: 2,547 Member
    For me it’s the opposite. Harder to motivate in hot, humid weather. I’d much rather go for walks in the sub zero weather. As long as you’re dressed for it. I get colder walking in rain than snow. Being wet can be colder than snow. I have a George Foreman grill, and just received a grill pan for Christmas. The grill pan can be used on stove top or in the oven. I highly recommend it. We have very long sub freezing winters in Minnesota. Have to make the best of the situation. The hours of daylight, can be an issue for some, but I don’t mind.
  • ReenieHJ
    ReenieHJ Posts: 9,511 Member
    I'm part bear. :) Crawl under the covers, read, and eat. Not much chance for weight loss with that routine is there? :/ So I have to push myself to find healthier substitutes for all the comfort foods I'm longing for. I like all foods and could easily live on cheesy mac n cheese or pasta dishes, warm cookies and quick breads all winter long. But know that I need to replace with better choices. Hot veggie soups, lots of veggies to munch on, SF hot chocolate has kept me within my calories goals better than my craved-for foods would. And as far as exercise, I've been pretty loyal to my walking on the treadmill and am actually grateful for opportunities to shovel.

    Yes, it's definitely more challenging but highly doable.
  • MsCzar
    MsCzar Posts: 767 Member
    edited February 5
    Echo echo. Winter-time things that help me stay on track:
    I blanch, skin and freeze my garden tomatoes. In winter, I'll chuck them into the food processor and make hot spiced tomato broth. I'll sometimes add a little monk fruit to counter the tang. Perfect for when I want something more substantial than mere tea. The spicy kick seems to quell my hunger and chase away my sweet cravings. Store-bought tomato juice would probably work as well; just read the label for added chemicals and sugars.
    Sometimes I add a little powder from those water flavour packets to a huge travel mug of hot tea to add a sweet fruity taste that satisfies my sweet tooth.
    Winter is homemade soup season! Homemade veggie/lentil soup, Thai curried chicken and Moroccan chili are in frequent rotation. Making traditional chicken noodle today!
    My all time fave cold weather treat is baked apples with sweet potatoes. After giving a large sweet potato a head start in the microwave, I slice it together with 2 apples in an oven-safe covered baking dish.
    Then I mix together 7g melted butter, juice of one orange, a small amount of brown sugar, salt, a good dash of corn starch or taro root and apple pie spices. Pour over and toss to coat. 40 minutes at 350°F/175°C. I love it warm and topped with yogurt and sprinkle of granola. Soooo good!

    I also try to get my 30 minutes of cardio in earlier in the winter. As the day goes on, it too easy to decide to skip it as the day darkens.
  • ythannah
    ythannah Posts: 4,187 Member
    No effect on weight or hunger for me, just mainly the types of food I feel like eating. I have way less interest in cold food like salads in winter, and don't want to cook anything that involves using the oven and heating up the house at the height of summer. Extreme heat tends to make the idea of eating really unappealing.

    As far as exercise goes, I do the same early AM workouts year round. I no longer walk outdoors once the temperature drops but that is probably offset by the work of shovelling snow (less frequent but more of a workout).