Avoid Holiday Weight Gain: 10 Tips for Winter Weight Loss

Article posted in: Nutrition
a smiling woman standing on a rooftop while it snows. winter weight loss tips

The average person gains about a pound of weight every year. According to Harvard Health Publishing, most of that is acquired during the holiday season. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? But consider that over 10 years. One minute you’re 145 pounds and in the blink of an eye, you’re 155. Maybe even more if you were unlucky enough to gain two or three pounds in one particularly delicious year.

So what’s to be done? Research, published in The BMJ, addresses this very question. Researchers tried a behavioral intervention to prevent weight gain during Christmas. 272 participants were split up into two groups. “The intervention group was given a behavioral intervention intended to increase their restraint of food and beverage consumption,” explains Harvard Health Publishing. The intervention group was told to regularly weigh themselves and record weight. They were also provided weight-management strategies and offered details on the amount of exercise needed to burn off holiday food and drinks. The control group received info on healthy living.

“Results showed that the intervention group lost an average of 0.3 pounds, while the control group gained 0.8 pounds. This may not seem like much, but research shows that weight gains are not fully lost in the months following the holidays. Although the yearly gain is small, it can add up to an increase of 10 pounds over 10 years,” says Harvard Health Publishing. You should also think of the long-term effects of steady weight loss and how effective those basic measures were. Now, imagine how effective journaling and calorie calculating can be when combined with these additional tidbits:

1. Have a Drink

holiday drinks displayed on a silver tray. 

And we mean one. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one cup of eggnog (without the alcohol) contains 223 calories. A 125-lb person would have to run for 30 minutes to burn off that single glass, says Harvard Health Publishing. Add alcohol and you’ll need to keep on running. The more drinks you have, the more calories you consume and the less self-control you have. Our advice: Allow yourself a one holiday cocktail but make it last all night. Sip water in-between. Set your glass down so you’re not holding it and mindlessly drinking. You can also volunteer to be the designated driver or host of the party so you have a reason to skip the drinks.

2. Police Your Portions

a man handing a woman a casserole over a dinner table. winter weight loss tips

You wait all year long for things like latkes, Figgy pudding and prime rib (and don’t forget that gravy!). The most important thing to remember during the holidays is portion control. Trading your dinner plate with a salad plate can keep your portions small. Loading half of that plate with veggies can fill you up without filling you out. Try not to go back for seconds. However, if you find yourself at the food table for another round, get one spoonful of your favorite dish. Politely decline to take home leftover pie, cookies or anything except fresh produce from a veggie tray.

3. Healthy Baking

A woman prepping christmas cookies for baking. winter weight loss tips

Baked treats are synonymous with the holidays. Instead of telling you to steer clear for winter weight loss(which is unrealistic and cruel), simply alter your recipes for your diet. Instead of using sugar and brown sugar and chocolate chips, purchase erythritol, stevia or monk-fruit extract products—all of which contain zero carbs but none of which cause the insulin spikes that fuel the endless hunger cycle. Also stock up on almond flour or a low-carb baking blend. We use those flours in lots of our top-rated baking recipes and that’s all you need to get started.

Here are 17 Healthy Recipes for Baking Season! > Have fun.

4. Eat Before You “Eat”

a woman enjoying a healthy snack in the kitchen. winter weight loss tips

There is an inverse association between weight and eating frequency, says Harvard Health Publishing. They explain, “the heavier a person is, the less often they eat. In fact, research suggests that people of normal weight and formerly obese people who have maintained their weight loss eat about four times per day, compared with obese people.”

If you’ve got a big meal ahead, don’t skip breakfast or your mid-morning snack. Eat plenty of nutritious, high-fiber foods all throughout the day. If you go into the meal starving, you’ll most certainly overeat. Your goal is to leave the table “unstuffed.”

5. Have Soup

variety of healthy soups alongside fresh vegetables. winter weight loss tips

A study, published in the journal Appetite, found that people who eat soup before a meal tend to eat less, says Health.com. Another study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, corroborated that research and went on to suggest that a smooth soup stays in the stomach and increases satiety even longer than a chunky variety.

We’re big soup fans here at the South Beach Diet. Winter produce makes terrific soup but so do veggies in the frozen food aisle. Plus, those veggies are already washed and cut! Don’t forget a little butter or heavy cream in your soup is permitted. Dairy fat is good fat; just watch your portions.

Looking for healthy soup recipes for your winter weight loss menu? Try this Apple-Butternut Squash Soup! > We also love this Simple Chicken Soup. >

6. Go Low Carb

a man taking a picture of his low carb dish. winter weight loss tips

Those soup recipes are just two of literally hundreds of recipes here on The Palm Weight Loss Blog. If you are considering but haven’t committed to trying a low-carb diet just yet, The Palm has the recipes and DIY resources you need to succeed.

7. Exercise & Embrace the Energy

a woman and a man exercising in snowy conditions

According to Harvard Health Publishing, Dr. Adam Tenforde, an assistant professor of sports medicine and rehabilitation, says that cold weather improves endurance. The heart doesn’t have to work as hard during cold weather exercise, so we sweat less and expend less energy, which means you can exercise more efficiently for winter weight loss. Plus, cold weather is invigorating. When you might have stopped to rest before—either because of heat or exhaustion—you might run up that hill after all to stay warm and because you feel like you have the energy.

8. Water, Water, Water

a woman taking a water brake while on a winter run. winter weight loss tips

Stay hydrated for winter weight loss! You may think that your body doesn’t need as much water in the colder months (because you don’t sweat as much). However, it’s just as important. From removing waste to burning off fat from food and drink, your body needs adequate amounts of water to perform daily, necessary functions, says Medical News Today. Additionally, water helps suppress your appetite by giving you the sensation that you’re full.

On the South Beach Diet, we recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces of fluid each day. In other words, if you weigh 200 pounds, drink 100 ounces of water a day. However, please note that this is just a recommendation and you may need more or less fluid based on your activity level or other factors. Speak to your doctor to ensure you are hydrating properly for your specific needs. Add lemon juice, herbs or tea bags if you must. Just learn to like water (if you don’t) and it can help you lose weight.

9. Be Conscious of Your Mood

a man taking a moment to pause and reflect. winter weight loss tips

The busyness of the holiday season can trigger stress eating. The post-holiday crash can make us crave even more comfort. When we are anxious, sad or stressed, we are more likely to eat in an unbalanced way,” says Dr. Jan Chozen Bays. “Stress can also change how the body processes and stores food, and stress can raise levels of cholesterol in the blood stream.” If you’re feeling stressed or sad, don’t eat—prioritize your tasks, cut out extra steps and ask for help. Meditating for a few minutes can help you refocus. Always speak to your doctor if you’re feeling overly anxious, sad or stressed.

10. Ahhh, Sleep

a woman sleeping on a bed

The days are shorter and nights are longer. It’s tempting to want to sleep, sleep, sleep. However, too much sleep can also trigger stress and a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that can convince you not to exercise, eat unhealthy foods and make you a real bear, says The National Sleep Foundation. While sleep is just as important as diet and exercise and most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night, be careful not to let the lack of sunlight talk you into sleeping too much. Make a deliberate effort to exercise outside in the sunshine. If bad weather makes exercise not possible, then set up shop near a sunny window.