The article first appeared on Grazia Daily on July 13, 2015
Keeping fit and eating healthy in the midst of the winter cold can be quite a challenge. This time of the year proves to be the hardest season to maintain your healthy lifestyle approach because we are faced with the dark mornings and cold winter evenings. Winter can also cause people to become less productive – your appetite for carbohydrates increases, your sleep duration increases and your mood and motivation levels change which can be a sign of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
If your diet is working for you and you are seeing progression, a change may not be necessary, however consider adding some food variety. “The advantage of rotating foods is that your gut can become more efficient at processing a broader range of foods. This can be beneficial, especially with the abundance and variety of root vegetables available over the winter season and as we change our foods and cooking methods,” says Gareth Powell, nutrition and sports science expert at USN.
Follow these top ten tips and tricks suggested by Powell to help you get or keep your summer body in winter:
1. Maintain your summer mood:
Get out into the sun for at least 15-30 minutes each day. This is our main source of Vitamin D, which is essential for bone and teeth formation and helps the body to release serotonin, a hormone that has been shown to lift our mood. When you are in a good mood you tend to crave fewer carbohydrates and fatty foods in the winter months.
2. Alter your diet:
Make sure that you are eating highly nutritious, vitamin rich foods with each meal. Trade off starches like potato, rice, breads and pastas for an increase in green leafy vegetables, root vegetables and vegetable broths. This way, you are ensuring that you meet your calorie requirements, while guaranteeing a higher intake of nutrients. Slow roasts, pot roasts and stews are the order of the day! Even if you have those carbohydrate cravings, you can still eat with a significant variety and satisfaction without going overboard on the calories. Incorporate a good quality Omega 3 supplement, such as USN Omega 3 which provides support for the heart, nervous system, cellular and hormonal health, while ensuring optimal eye health.
3. Eat with variety as the main factor:
Look at including seasonal fruits and vegetables and the alternative cuts of meat (a chuck roast for example). Ensuring constant variety in your diet means you will get a range of nutrients and ensure the goodness required from a home cooked, hearty and very healthy meal! Don’t forget your dairy, nuts and fruit complement in your diet, which can work well as snacks.
4. Keep hydrated:
Drink water as required, or just aim to stick to a minimum of two liters per day. Getting the correct amount of water in plays an important role in the human body. If water seems like a boring beverage option, zest it up with freshly sliced lemons, strawberries or kiwi fruits. Go for healthy herbal teas as another source.
5. Supplement your diet:
If there are shortfalls in your diet that cannot be met through a food selection change, make sure that you are taking all of the precautions by supplementing at the right levels early on. Not only will this potentially keep you healthier throughout winter, but it will support your recovery levels and immunity. Make sure you use a comprehensive daily supplement such as the USN Ultra V Daily packs. By doing so you are able to stay healthy and get all your daily nutrients. This option includes all the vital vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, phytochemicals, and essential fatty acids, plant sterols, cognitive performance supporters, as well as support for bone and joint health.
6. Supplementation should be adjusted according to your goals:
The variety of supplementation available is vast, and selecting the right products help you support and achieve your desired goal faster is what you should be looking for. Since supplementation in the form of snack replacements and protein supplements provides at most 10-15% of your calorie yield on a daily basis, significant changes are not usually necessary, but starting with the right base is.
7. Sustain your workout routines:
Most people struggle with the early morning and late evening training sessions. If you are one of those who feel more lethargic in winter, move your training time to your lunch times. Have a high intensity lactate-based workout as this enables the body to increase oxygen uptake to improve energy and endurance when training. You only need 25-30 minutes of this training medium to see real results. Alternatively, if you have the facilities and opportunity, try to get out into a park and to do organised group runs with friends or colleagues. You will then get your exposure to sunlight as well as the benefits of your training. To compliment your exercise routine, make use of a good quality workout protein supplement, such as USN Whey + which offers you immune support through its high levels of Biological Value protein and will keep you feeling fresh and energized throughout the day.
8. Beat the cold if you have to:
Move indoors, this will reduce your exposure to the cold, and you will maintain a higher body temperature in a controlled environment. If you have time to train throughout the day, and then aim to attend exercise classes such as yoga or Pilates with a friend or a quick run on the treadmill. In addition, consider wearing base-layers, designed to provide comfort and support during the colder months, and they are easily removed if you get too hot. Always wear warm clothes to gym and out of gym to avoid rapid core temperature changes.
9. Invest more time in your warm up:
When it’s cold the body takes longer to warm up. A cold start can result in injury, since training without an adequate warm-up can lead to shock in muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. Take more time to focus on warming up with every session. Do five to ten minutes of light cardio on the treadmill or bicycle at the gym, or jog around the block – ensure your muscles are warm and ready for your exercise routine to follow. It is also equally important to do a warm-down routine after you have exercised to stretch your muscles out to avoid cramping and injury. Do five minutes of light cardio coupled with five minutes of stretching.
10. Correct your sleeping patterns:
Make sure that you are sleeping six to eight hours per night. Reduce the use of electronic equipment in the evenings (cell phone, tablets and other devices) as this can stimulate the retina and wreak havoc on your sleeping patterns.
“I would like to believe that people are health conscious all year around, however we do get heavily influenced by trends, fads and short-term solutions as we begin our journey to wellness. By following these tips you can maintain your healthy self throughout the winter,” concludes Powell.