If the winter marks the time of year where you’re more likely to stay indoors and drink hot chocolate by the fire rather than exercise, it might be time to learn to love snowshoeing, overhaul your diet, and borrow a dog. Read on for 5 healthy ways to lose weight over winter.
1. Make Exercise Fun!
Many of us find it difficult to exercise for exercise’s sake, meaning that over the cooler months we pack on the pounds, lose some of our fitness, and feel more sluggish and unhealthy.
Rather than concentrating on what the weighing scale says, focus on having fun and staying active and soon you’ll stop seeing your skis as a guilt-trip and start seeing them as your passport to fun! All it takes is a little change of mindset, so to avoid unhealthy weight gain and stay healthy and fit over winter, how about:
- Exercising to socialise! Start a snowshoeing or cross-country skiing club with friends old and new!
- Finding out of the way hot-springs that you have to hike into – the perfect reward for your efforts!
- Getting the right equipment – if you have gear that’s a pain to use, you won’t use it, so invest in your success!
- Signing up as a volunteer dog-walker at your local shelter – or taking your friends’ pups on hikes if you can’t commit full-time to an animal companion
- Checking out your local community centre for badminton, tennis, squash, swimming or indoor volleyball opportunities – you’ll be in great shape for beach volleyball!
Of course, it’s not all about exercise, especially as it can be tempting to indulge in warming comfort foods in winter. Pies, puddings, and other hearty fare typically contain an excess of calories from simple carbohydrates and fats and, added to the excess alcohol and treats that you’re likely to consume over the festive period, this can see you starting out the new year with a few more pounds than you might like.
2. Try Plant Proteins
One great way to stay in shape over winter is to try plant proteins. Vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, legumes and seeds are all great sources of protein and, unlike meat and dairy, plant proteins are accompanied by fibre, phytonutrients and healthy fats, in addition to essential vitamins and minerals.
Some great choices include:
- Quinoa – 8g of protein per cup, excellent added to salads and baked goods
- Buckwheat – 6g of protein per cup, a great substitute for regular flour
- Hempseed – 10g of protein per 2 tbsps, great for salads, yoghurts, cookies, and smoothies
- Chia seed – 4g of protein per 2 tbsps, add to salads, smoothies and desserts
- Rice and beans – 7g of protein per cup
- Spirulina – 4g of protein per tbsp, add to smoothies and energy bars
3. Know Your Nuts
Many weight-loss articles say to eat nuts as a health snack, but there are so many types of nut available and they can have wildly different calorie counts.
For example, 200 calories equals:
- 8 walnuts
- 10 macadamia nuts
- 10 pecans
- 22 cashews
- 22 peanuts
- 29 almonds
- 62 pistachios
So, when you’re snacking on nuts, mix it up so you get a good intake of nutrients from a variety of nuts, but don’t go overboard on calories.
4. Substitute High Calorie for Low Calorie, Nutrient Dense Foods
Cutting calories can quickly lead to a cut in essential nutrients, so it pays to learn some handy substitutions that mean you’re still getting the vitamins and minerals you need but without the surplus energy.
Some great nutritious replacements to consider include:
- Cacao nibs for chocolate chips
- Chia seeds for butter in baking – 2-3 tbsps chia soaked in a cup of water for 15 mins can replace a cup of butter
- Mashed banana (1 cup) for a cup of oil or butter
- 1 cup pureed avocado for 1 cup butter
- 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce for 1 cup sugar (ideal for oatmeal cookies, just reduce the rest of the liquid by about a 1/4 cup)
5. Increase Fibre and Water Intake
Our wintertime food cravings are often the result of dehydration as many of us forget to drink enough water over the cooler months. Staying hydrated with herbal teas, mulled apple juice (in moderation), and warm water with lemon slices can help take the edge off hunger as well as help keep metabolism working nicely.
Along with drinking enough water, a good intake of fibre can also help combat food cravings. To help you feel full while cutting calories increase your fibre intake by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, pulses, legumes, and whole grains. You can also add PGX to your morning oatmeal or cereal, as well as in soups and stews, or simply mix it with a glass of water or juice and you’ll get that same satisfied feeling of fullness but with significantly fewer calories.