The onset of a New Year typically means weight loss resolutions. Though weight gain is almost inevitable during the winter holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s) these back-to-back holidays aren’t the only reasons for winter weight gain.
During the winter birds migrate, bears hibernate and humans…well, we bulk. And not intentionally, more intuitively, there’s a science behind this. Mind Body Motion explains how our bodies naturally crave carbohydrate-rich foods, and our appetites increase during the winter in “Why Do We Eat More in the Winter than Summer?” With less sunlight, our pineal glands produce melatonin, which increases our appetites and causes feelings of sleepiness. As a result, our activity levels decrease.
Understanding seasonal changes trigger diet fluctuations, would be counterproductive to dieting during the winter months. Instead, consider bulking, which means utilizing a nutrition and exercise plan aimed at building muscle.
So, how do you build muscle? Step One. With a caloric surplus!
Eat more calories than your body burns. Therefore, before reaching for the phone to dial Pizza Hut, keep in mind your extra calories should primarily be filled with nutrients and vitamins. Otherwise, you run the risk of gaining more fat than muscle. Your best bet is to use a reputable calorie calculator like the Free Fat Loss Calculator, which is based on the Harris-Benedict equation, to determine your optimal caloric intake and macro-nutrient values (carbohydrates, proteins and fats).
Now that you know what to eat and how much, step two: incorporate resistance training into your fitness plan and reduce your endurance training.
Ask Men writer, Chris Barnhart advises readers to employ Dr. Jose Antonio’s recommendations of a 12 to 18 week three-phase approach (four to six weeks per phase) in “The Basics of Bulking Up.” Phase One, perform strength training workouts with progressively heavier weights. Phase Two, use power lifting type workouts with much heavier weights. Phase Three, lift lighter weights, add cardio and reduce your caloric intake.
So, give bulking a try! With the three-phase approach, I would suggest aligning your fitness schedule with the changes in the season. Begin Phase One during the winter and conclude with Phase Three during the spring when it’s more intuitive for your body to eat less and increase physical activity. Happy Bulking!
Barnhart, Chris, “The Basics of Bulking Up,” Ask Men
Mind Body Motion “Why Do We Eat More in the Winter than Summer?” http://www.mindbodymotion.com.au/why-do-we-eat-more-in-winter-than-summer/
Written by Erika Sage Kelley, CPT
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