Winter: The Ultimate Appetite Stimulant

January 19, 2012 | By | Comments (0)

It’s 25 degrees and windy today in New York City.

All I really want to do is stay under a warm blanket, noshing on equally toasty items like mac-’n-cheese, hot chocolate, and grilled cheese.

Notice a trend? Three rather fattening, comfort-food items. Also, three things I wouldn’t really be craving if it were warmer. The result of this trend? A bit of “winter weight,” as I like to call it. (After all, everything’s covered up!)

Of course, it begs the question: Do other people eat more in winter? Is this a real thing, the craving for additional calories and decadent foods when the mercury drops?

Turns out, it’s not just me. In fact, the impulse to dive headfirst into a bowl of French Onion soup is something deeply ingrained within our brains—as a way to stockpile calories during times of potential scarcity, say researchers.

A 2006 study which analyzed prior research on the topic of “seasonal variation on intake” (sounds much classier than “winter weight”) found some fascinating points.

* One 1991 report found and found that people can consume about 200 calories a day MORE during the winter than other times of year

* People tend to keep their protein intake stable regardless of the season.

* The season of the highest intake of carbs? Fall! The lowest intake of carbs is in the summer.

* Not surprisingly, one’s amount of physical activity also can fluctuate with the weather. In temperate latitudes, activity levels spiked in the spring and dropped in the winter.

So, now that I know it’s natural to feel like a bear entering hibernation, I guess the only thing to do is to jack up the heat, slice and dice way more fruits and veggies for snacks and meals, and sign up for a Spin class.

How do you combat “winter weight” — a.k.a the desire to permanently cozy up with cocoa or creamed potatoes?

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