Have you noticed if your appetite changes with the seasons? Do you eat more when the weather is colder? In cooler weather, your body needs to burn more calories to maintain body temperature. To protect your health and keep you warm, the system that controls appetite signals you to eat more.1
There have been studies done to determine why our appetites vacillate. In one study, subjects consumed about 200 more calories a day beginning in the fall when the days grew darker.2 Another study explained that humans are very light-sensitive and when there is less of it, we tend not only to eat more but also to eat faster!3
Other experts believe the environment causes us to eat more, not the changing season. They believe that being inside all day with less activity and fewer opportunities to exercise, contribute to increased food intake.4 The holiday season is an obvious example of environmental influences in food consumption: we eat certain high-caloric foods during the holidays and even crave them during that time of year.
A common question related to increased food consumption is, “Will I gain weight because I eat more in the cooler months?” The answer may seem obvious; however, it’s not as simple as it may seem. The logic behind this question is that the increased calories will add body fat. This is not necessarily correct, because weight gain depends not only on the amount we eat but also on what we eat.
The role that the hormone insulin plays in fat accumulation helps determine whether or not we gain weight. Insulin is produced when we eat complex or simple sugars. Its main function is to usher sugar into our cells to be used for energy. When our cells are getting enough energy from sugar, insulin will signal the leftover sugar to be stored as fat, so it can be used as needed in the future if food is sparse. Contrary to carbs, dietary fat doesn’t spike insulin and therefore doesn’t get stored as body fat. Instead, it provides a steady energy source, and is excellent for brain health and immunity.5
Another reason some of us eat more during colder weather is simply due to boredom or depression because we can’t get motivated to go out in the cold. Even an advocate of Active Wellness can have a day lacking in motivation once in awhile. Eating comfort foods is a known escape mechanism, so the key is to be mindful and eat because you are hungry. In other words, stay in tune with your body and make sure you actually feel hunger, not boredom.
Also, keep to your exercise routine, whether it’s a daily walk in the cool brisk air or an indoor mat workout. And, remember there’s help to stay on the right food regimen with high protein, low fat options such as Kenzen Vital Balance® Meal Replacement Mix to which you can blend in healthy fruits and even veggies. For an antioxidant boost, simply add Kenzen® Super Ciaga powder.