Winter diet: foods, supplements, calories

Frequent colds, mood swings, skin and hair problems, and often weight gain are the “charms” of the winter season. But you can try to correct the situation with the help of normal nutrition.

With the onset of cold weather, you often desire to treat yourself to sweet or more high-calorie, fatty foods. And instead of walking in the fresh air – sit on the couch, wrapped in a blanket. More and more cloudy weekdays are reflected in our mood. And as a result – weight gain, depressive mood, unhealthy complexion, and the condition of hair and nails also leaves much to be desired. And what processes occurring in the body with the onset of cold weather provoke such changes? And how to resist it?

What happens to the body in winter

It is known that at low temperatures, the body is forced to expend energy for heating, the source of which, when staying in the cold for a short time, is carbohydrates. Energy efficiency increases if a person begins to move actively. But then there is a desire to eat something sweet since carbohydrates are the body’s main energy source.

What does it mean to shiver from the cold

Additional energy consumption, i.e., loss of calories, occurs when freezing “to the point of shivering” – this is a protective reaction when the body begins additional heat production to warm up from the cold. However, muscle tremors can be so weak that a person does not always pay attention to them.

But what if you limit your movements once in a situation requiring a reduction in energy consumption? It turns out that with immobility, metabolic processes slow down. However, prolonged exposure to low temperatures changes human metabolism from carbohydrate to lipid, i.e., fatty. In this case, fats become the source of energy in the body. And here, the ideal solution for excess weight is exposure to cold combined with inactivity.

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But it turns out that staying at low temperatures for the body is accompanied by stress. As it turned out, with the onset of wintertime, when daylight hours are getting shorter, the so-called stress hormone, cortisol, is activated, which, in turn, can reduce our body’s sensitivity to insulin. How does it manifest itself? There is a desire for sweets or something high-calorie. But the lack of movement in the winter also reduces tissue responsiveness to insulin. In combination with these factors, weight gain is a natural result.

Moreover, stress and the same cortisol lead to so-called visceral obesity – fatty deposits on the internal organs of the abdominal cavity. Visceral fat promotes the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Produced by the immune system, they increase inflammatory reactions in the body and increase the risk of atherosclerosis, arterial hypertension, and diabetes.

What to do?

So is it worth giving up hot tea or a serving of high-calorie food after being out in the cold if this desire is understandable and justified? Eating to replenish energy and in search of warmth and pleasure can be beneficial for the body: it is enough to slightly adjust the diet by adding more healthy foods to the winter diet.

Basic nutrition rules in winter

Fatty food? Yes, to health!

If you want to treat yourself to fatty foods – a great source of energy, it is better to give preference to foods that contain enough unsaturated fats, among the useful properties of which are:

  • regulation of metabolic processes in the body;
  • increasing the sensitivity of insulin receptors, preventing insulin resistance and the development of type II diabetes mellitus;
  • Dissolution of deposits on the walls of blood vessels, which reduces the risk of atherosclerosis;
  • Regulation of the level of serotonin, which has antidepressant properties;
  • suppression of cortisol synthesis;
  • The production of substances in the body that suppress inflammatory processes;
  • regulation of vascular tone and normalization of blood pressure;
  • Improving the condition of hair, skin, nails, etc.
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Natural sources of polyunsaturated fats are sea fish, fish oil, olive oil, caviar, avocados, nuts, corn, soybeans, hard cheeses, etc.

Carbohydrates are not just sugar.

There is an opinion that the rejection of carbohydrates is the only way to keep your weight under control. But without them, a person will not receive nutrients essential for the body, including providing cells with energy. In addition, they are involved in the synthesis of adenosine triphosphoric acid – which is also a source of energy.

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But you can opt for foods ideal for replenishing the supply of carbohydrates without the risk of gaining excess weight. We are talking about the so-called “slow” (or complex) carbohydrates, for example, cereals, legumes, various bowls of cereal, vegetables, and fruits. By the way, they prevent the accumulation of excess fat. When complex carbohydrates are used, the energy received is consumed almost completely, and the body does not need to turn it into fat reserves. However, sticking to the recommended number of calories consumed is still worth it.

Vitamins are good old friends.

About 80% of vitamin reserves are consumed to warm the body; these useful substances are also needed to protect against viruses. With the insufficient intake of vitamins, an exacerbation of chronic diseases is inevitable; as a decrease in resistance to infections, the condition of the skin and hair also worsens, which already suffers when staying in a room with dry air due to heating. Vitamins A, E, C, and B are considered relevant for the winter season, which has an antiviral effect, strengthens immunity, accelerates skin regeneration during weathering, participates in synthesizing serotonin, etc.

That mysterious word is antioxidants.

Fighting free radicals that damage the cells of the body, antioxidants perform a number of functions:

  • prevent many diseases
  • accelerate recovery after illnesses,
  • increase the body’s resistance to external factors, including the environment, weather conditions, etc.

Antioxidants reduce the risk of heart attack, atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus and thrombosis, and degenerative processes. They play a role in maintaining elastic skin and healthy hair. The leaders in the list of useful foods for eating in winter are blue-violet or yellow-orange fruits (blueberries, grapes, carrots, lemons, apricots, eggplants, etc.), as well as broccoli, nuts, seafood, and dry red wine. They can be beneficial, but only as a preventive measure, and it should be borne in mind that the amount of antioxidants in the products is insignificant.

When to Take Supplements

It is only sometimes possible to cover all the body’s needs with the help of even high-quality nutrition in winter. In addition, in the fight against the cold in winter, it is worth giving preference to seasonal products grown in the region of residence, which is only sometimes possible. But today, on sale, you can find all kinds of nutritional supplements containing all the necessary elements – in the optimal amount for the body. For example:

  • Seasonal mood swings or depression are associated with a decrease in serotonin levels. But tryptophan – an amino acid necessary for the formation of serotonin and dopamine in the brain – the so-called “hormones of happiness and pleasure”, is an essential one and is not produced in the body. Only when it enters the body with the food processing into the desired form. However, the complete metabolism of tryptophan is possible only with an adequate amount of vitamins B6, B9, and C in the body. But how to determine this amount? Tryptophan as a biological supplement may be more acceptable for someone.
  • Polyunsaturated lipids (among the best-known omega-3s ) are not synthesized in the human body, so they must be supplied with food, especially in winter. But cooking dishes from the same fish takes time. It is much easier to purchase special preparations. The food complexes that exist today are able to fully cover the human need for these substances that are indispensable for the body.
  • Antioxidants, which were mentioned above, differ in different activity; their amount is not high even in top products; for example, for tangible benefits from broccoli, you will have to eat at least a kilogram of this product. In addition, finding clean natural sources in an unfavorable environment is becoming increasingly more work. Food supplements are a good alternative. There are several drugs, and many vitamin-mineral complexes with antioxidants are constantly heard: Complicit, Sinergin, Vitrum-forte Q10, etc.
  • To cover the body’s need for vitamins, you must eat at least 500 grams daily. Variety of vegetables and fruits. But the quality of the products available on the shelves is only sometimes up to par. It is worth picking up nutritional supplements containing a whole range of necessary substances. As a rule, they protect against various adverse factors typical of winter: colds, hypothermia, increased fatigue, mood swings, etc. Many complexes also include minerals necessary for the body.

Drinking regimen and portions

As in the summer months, in winter, it is still important to observe the drinking regimen: 2-2.5 liters. In dry indoor air conditions, a lack of fluid also leads to various problems, and skin and hair are the first to suffer. However, considering the correction for wintertime, it is better to prefer warm drinks and dishes.

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Fractional nutrition in small portions is also one of the recommendations worthy of attention. To optimize the energy costs of the body, it is better to take food after 4-5 hours: this way, you will be able to replenish energy reserves regularly. What can be cooked to be both tasty and healthy? Of course, the choice depends on taste preferences and the products available. But you can always use what is at hand. For example, you can try the following:

Chicken soup with broccoli

You will need the following:

  • ½ chicken
  • Carrots – 1 pc.,
  • Onion and celery stalk – 2 pcs.,
  • Broccoli (even frozen) – 400 gr.,
  • Leek – 15 cm (white part),
  • Garlic – 2 cloves.
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How to cook:

  1. Boil the cut-into chicken pieces with one carrot, onion, and celery.
  2. Separately, fry the leek, second carrot, garlic, and celery, and cut into rings.
  3. After the chicken is cooked, strain the broth, and the boiled vegetables can be removed.
  4. Add pre-fried vegetables and broccoli divided into inflorescences to the broth.
  5. Cook for 15 minutes over low heat.

Dish in a pot

Put in a pot everything that you would like to bake: pieces of meat or chicken, vegetables, mushrooms, and root vegetables. Then add water or broth, cover the pot with a lid or foil, and place in the oven. You can do without oil in this recipe. By the way, it is not necessary to stand at the stove during extinguishing; you can do any business.

What if you want to sleep more?

And wonderful! Switching to winter nutrition, we must remember to get good sleep. You need to sleep at least 7-8 hours; the lack of sleep cannot be compensated for by any food and nutrition rules. By the way, when sleep is disturbed, a person loses control over eating behavior, eating an average of 300 calories more per day with a lack of sleep. With a complete lack of night sleep, consumption increases by 600 calories. In addition, the sensitivity of tissues to insulin decreases.

And remember, the state of health, to a large extent, depends on the psychological attitude. Winter is not only dank temperatures and dampness during sunless days. At this time of the year, most of the holidays. And this means that there will be pre-holiday worries, gifts, and meetings with friends. But positive emotions affect well-being, as it turned out, no less than nutrition.


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