Is winter weight gain real? The truth is there is both good news and bad news about winter weight gain. Let’s get the bad over with first.

“Although seasonal weight gain varies from person to person, there have been surveys that show an average of a five- to seven-pound gain in weight in winter,” says Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, founder and director of the John Hopkins Weight Management Centre and associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. And this winter weight gain, Cheskin says, is mostly due to overeating combined with reduced exercise.

This is the good news. Just make some behaviour and lifestyle changes (not all are Earth-shattering, either; some are quite slight) to keep the winter bloat at bay. Try these tips to keep you light on your feet and looking great.

1. Set a regular exercise schedule

Healthcare specialists say that a regular fitness routine is the most important factor in preventing winter weight gain. Otherwise, on these short, cold winter days, it is much easier to go home, crawl under the duvet, and watch TV.

2. Keep your exercise simple
Make sure your exercise regime can easily fit into even your busiest schedule. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator when going up. Or you can go for a walk whenever possible like during lunch instead of taking a cab.

3. Never arrive at a party hungry

Instead of getting empty calories and fattening carbohydrates from alcohol and too many mince pies, eat salad, some raw vegetables such as carrots, or a piece of fruit at home before leaving for any social gathering. Medical studies suggest that when we eat outside of our homes, we can take in as much as 40% more calories (many of them empty) than we would otherwise.

4. Beware of booze

Alcohol is loaded with calories, and in social situations that often involve drinking, it’s easy to take in many extra calories without even knowing it. Experts suggest drinking water or a diet drink before and after each alcoholic drink to dilute calories and slow the drinking pace.

5. Get lots of zinc

Medical studies show that a low level of zinc usually signals a low metabolic rate, and reduced calorie burning. Many good-for-you foods contain zinc–nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

This winter, try some patience, planning, focus, and determination to keep those extra winter pounds away. Just a little effort will pay off in a big way when the days grow longer and it’s time to shed those winter layers and shine. With the perfect outfit and footwear, you can be sure to look your best during this holiday season without fear of winter weight gain.

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