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Why Do Women Gain More Weight in Winter and How to Avoid it?

Updated on September 9, 2016

On average, in winter we add 2 to 5 pounds to our weight, and it is almost inevitable. However, it can be avoided, if you know exactly where it comes from. Want to know why we gain weight in winter? Read on...

Do we really need to eat more to be warm?

Experts say "no". This is one of the most common myths. Moreover, it turns out that overweight people more often feel cold.

Then why do we eat more when it's cold?

Years ago, at the time of our ancestors, winter months were the most famine time of the year. And this is one explanation. We are genetically programmed to increase our fat reserves for the winter. But even if it is so, the current abundance of food calls for breaking this stereotype. That is, hypothetically, our genes are capable of storing information about the famine season, but now is the time when we can control the appetites in winter. After all, famine is unlikely to occur these days.

Still, I want to eat more in winter!

If you keep warm temperature in the room and dress warmly, then there shouldn't be any problems with the appetite increase. Rather, it's an effect of melatonin, the so-called hormone of darkness. After all, it is much darker outside in winter than during any other time of the year. Melatonin makes us feel sleepy, sluggish, and triggers the increase in the appetite. In spring and summer the quantity of melatonin falls, but in fall and winter its concentration increases.

And why do I want to eat more food that contains fat and sugar in winter?

Indeed, it happens. And the reason for that is the feeling of melancholy or boredom, which is increasing in winter.The body needs a "cheer up". Therefore, in winter you really crave for sweets. In spring and summer, we eat more carbohydrates, in winter - more fat.

It turns out that in winter people rarely experience a state of happiness, there is a high level of dissatisfaction. And studies show that in this state, we choose products that enhance the comfort level (high-calorie food: sweets, fat) and consume them 2 times as much.

I don't eat more in winter, but still I gain weight.

Our weight during winter season can be affected by low levels of vitamin D. The body needs sunlight, and in winter there is much less of it. And even when the sun is up and shining, our body is all covered by clothing, and only our hands and face can get some sunshine.

Studies have shown that people with low vitamin D levels accumulate more fat, although the exact explanation for this has yet to be found. So you should take more vitamin D in winter, eat more fish, and preferably be at sunshine for at least 20 minutes a day.

Another reason that makes us gain weight in winter is that during this time of the year we usually stay at home and have sedentary lifestyle, spending winter evenings watching TV, browsing the web or knitting. In spring and summer we much more often go somewhere, jog, go to the beach, walk more, travel. So, you should pay attention to your physical activity. Perhaps you really lack it.


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      Harold Munster 6 years ago

      I'm glad to see that you focused on diet and exercise as a coordinated effort. It would also be beneficial to monitor RMR,BMI, and calories burned. Then you would have some accuracy in determining and adjusting your diet for weight gain or loss. Online calculators and explanations are available for RMR, BMI & Calories Burned at so, enter your age, weight, height and activities you have done during the day. The calculator's will do the rest and tell you how many calories you use for the whole day and when at rest. This could help you to know how to adjust your diet to either gain weight or lose weight.

    • Shushanik profile image

      Shushanik 6 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Hopefully our genes will adjust soon. Or may be they have already adjusted in some lucky people :)

    • Ania L profile image

      Ania L 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I had no idea that low level of vitamin D might be the reason for higher storage of fat - very interesting.

      On the other hand I would prefer our genes to adjust to current living conditions and abandon the old famine in winter scenario - it was ages ago, one would think the evolution should take care of it!