Losing weight in the winter might seem like Mission: Impossible. But packing on pounds is not inevitable. Here, five ways to winterize your approach to weight loss.
High Water Content Foods
Foods with high water content include soups (80 to 95 percent water), fruits and veggies (80 to 95 percent), and hot cereal (85 percent). "Water adds weight and volume without adding calories," says Barbara Rolls, PhD, a nutrition professor at Pennsylvania State University and author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan (HarperCollins, 2005).
Get Some Sun
"Sunlight can prevent dips in serotonin, a mood-boosting brain chemical that is also partly responsible for feelings of fullness," says Norman E. Rosenthal, MD, author of Winter Blues (Guilford Press, 2005). Even a heavy dose of artificial light, especially in the morning, may help suppress food cravings and the urge to overeat.
By boosting your intake from the typical 15 percent of total calories to 30 percent, you may be able to cut your daily calorie intake by 440 — enough to lose almost a pound a week without hunger, according to a recent University of Washington study. "A high-protein diet appears to fool the brain into thinking you've eaten more than you have," says the study's lead author, Scott Weigle, MD, a professor of endocrinology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Stick with lean protein rather than high-fat, artery-clogging meat and dairy products. For breakfast, use low-fat milk instead of water in your oatmeal and sprinkle nuts on top. Or make a veggie omelet with one whole egg and two or three egg whites. Eat plenty of beans, fish, and skinless chicken breasts.
Slim Down Your Comfort Foods
There's no shortage of cookbooks full of healthier favorites, from mac and cheese to turkey pot pie. Try Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tips, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations by Katherine Tallmadge, RD (LifeLine Press, 2004); The New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life by the American Institute for Cancer Research (University of California Press, 2005), and The French Culinary Institute's Salute to Healthy Cooking: From America's Foremost French Chefs (Rodale Press, 1998).
Call In a Professional
If you find your motivation flagging, winter may be the time to hire a trainer once a week. Or meet the cold head-on: Layer up and head out for an invigorating winter walk, or try mega-calorie-burning sports like snowshoeing (648 calories per hour for a 135-pound woman) and cross-country skiing (729 calories per hour).