12 Fat burning tips for the colder months
Woken up to yet ANOTHER grey, cold, gloomy winter morning? Huh, us too! But don't let the winter weather get you down and make you lose your training motivation. Spring is right around the corner, and you'll soon be feeling energetic and raring to go. If you're anything like the Expertrain team, you might need a bit of a push to motivate yourself on those cold days where the sofa seems infinitely more appealing than a 5-mile run in the rain, but don't give up! We're here to help with 12 great fat burning tips for the colder months that will keep you fit, strong and motivated until the sun starts shining again. What are you waiting for, get your training shoes on and get out there!
#1. Be a sun seeker
We know that sunlight helps our bodies produce vitamin D, which can stave off low mood and is responsible for strong, healthy bones. Natural sunlight also boosts your serotonin levels - serotonin is a brain chemical which is not only responsible for boosting mood, but also for feelings of fullness. Getting some early morning light on your morning run not only helps you sleep better later, it can help to suppress cravings for unhealthy food and prevent overeating.
#2. Avoid comfort eating
Just because it's cold, doesn't mean your healthy eating has to go out the window - keeping your diet clean throughout the winter months will make a huge difference to your mood and your energy levels. It's too easy to give in to fatty, sugary, salty foods during the winter, so invest in some kitchen gadgets to help you out, such as a juicer and a blender. This way you can enjoy home-made soups, sauces and smoothies at the touch of a button. Don't be afraid to experiment with spice when cooking curries and stews during the colder months!
#3. Keep your head cosy
Wearing a knitted beanie during your outdoor workout can prevent up to 50% of your body heat escaping through your head, which in turn stops the blood vessels in your extremities from constricting, keeping your toes and fingers warm. There's nothing worse than setting out for a run to find your toes are like icicles!
#4. Pack your body with protein
Boost your protein intake when it's colder and you'll find you're able to cut back on calories. Instead of the usual 15% of total calories from protein, aim for around 30% and try cutting your calorie intake back by around 400 to 440 calories a day. This could result in weight loss of up to half a kg a week - and the best part is, you shouldn't feel hungry!
#5. Wear the right gear
Running causes you to sweat - even if it is -3 degrees outside! Try to avoid wearing too much cotton running gear; the damp fabric next to your skin can cause your core temperature to drop, leaving you feeling cold. Look for running kit with fabric that has wicking technology to soak up sweat.
#6. Consume more watery food
To keep your weight down in the winter months, choose food with high water content, such as fruit and vegetables (80 to 95% water), porridge (85% water) and soups (80 to 95% water). Water adds volume and weight to your stomach without the calories, leaving you feeling fuller and more satisfied. So you're less likely to reach for that chocolate bar or bag of crisps between meals.
#7. Heat up
We know how important it is to warm up your muscles before a workout with stretches, but try heating them up too! Heating your muscles up by a heater before your lunchtime workout helps promote good circulation, which in turn lubricates your joints and reduces your risk of injury. Plus, it's pretty cosy too!
#8. Control your breathing
All that cold air stresses out and dries out your airways, which can slow down your muscles. Even when you start to get out of breath, focus on taking small, controlled breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. This causes the smaller blood vessels to warm up, adding moisture to to air as it travels to your lungs, helping your body burn fat.
#9. Choose dark chocolate
Step away from that bar of Dairy Milk and instead treat yourself to a square of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, if you're looking to burn fat this winter. Did you know that eating a square of dark chocolate could actually help your body to burn fat, thanks to two metabolism-boosting ingredients - caffeine and the antioxidant catechin. Aim for the highest percentage of cocoa you can find, and limit yourself to a single square a day; don't overdo it!
#10. Seek out soluble fibre
Soluble fibre not only helps to keep you regular, it can also help you to stay feeling fuller for longer, which means you'll eat less. Grapefruit is an excellent source of soluble fibre and it's in season during the winter months! Why not try tossing some grapefruit segments in a healthy lunchtime salad for a vitamin C boost?
#11. Get your motor running
Make sure you get at least 30 minutes' exercise most days, whether that's a gym session, yoga class or building a snowman! Researchers from the University of Colorado found that our body's production of ATLPL, a chemical which promotes fat storage, drops during the summer months but almost doubles in winter. Exercise can increase production of SMLPL, the muscle enzyme which is responsible for promoting fat burning. The study's author, Robert E. Eckle, MD, says, "We found that people who are normally physically active are more protected from weight gain."
#12. Avoid carb cravings
Don't splurge on carb-heavy foods in the evenings - instead have some healthy carbs mid-afternoon. Low levels of sunlight in winter can cause our bodies to crave sweet, comforting carbs as our brain's serotonin levels drop. Your brain tells you to eat more carbs so that serotonin levels will rise; don't listen!
Judith Wurtman, PhD, co-author of The Serotonin Power Diet, carried out research which found that individuals with SAD could consume an extra 800 calories a day from satisfying cravings with fatty carbs. Avoid weight-gain this winter by eating low-fat, healthy carbs such as porridge with a little honey/brown sugar or sweet potatoes. Cravings get worse later in the day, so aim to eat a low-fat carb snack like crackers or popcorn in the afternoon. Spending at least 20 minutes a day outside can also boost serotonin levels and help prevent a carb binge!