Looking to lose weight, this could be the best time of year to try. Although this is a bit contrary to the fact, as our bodies actually burn slightly more calories in cold weather. It takes more energy for our bodies to adapt to cold temperature than warm. This is because our bodies need to produce heat when we are cold, by stimulating smooth muscle contraction aka shivering. Shivering requires caloric energy to generate heat = burning more calories overall. Conversely, the summer heat has little effect on your resting calorie burning rate or BMR- Basal Metabolic Rate. If you find yourself sweating, this is not really active calorie burning. Although with all this, summer still has its advantages and here’s why.
You naturally feel less hungry (you probably noticed that during this last heat wave). The long summer hours are a natural appetite suppressant and make us view and feel things differently, as:
- Elevated mood
- A feeling of health, wanting to take care of our bodies to enjoy the outdoors
- Being more active – bike riding, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, long walks in the early morning or late evening to swimming at the beach midday to yard work and garden maintenance. In general, more activities that are easy to do as compared to winter
- Eating fewer heavy foods and naturally eating more lighter foods = less calories. With an abundance of farmers markets or your own garden, there are lots of fresh low calorie, highly nutrient dense, vegetables and fruits to pick from.
- Sweating more. Heat tends to make us sweat by evaporating water content from our bodies as our body tries to regulate body temperature by expelling water i.e., sweat. This has a lot to do with our hypothalamus which is located in the brain, between the pituitary gland and thalamus, another key part of the equation. The hypothalamus’ main role is to keep the body in homeostasis as much as possible. You can see by some of its main roles to our body how it relates to our hunger:
- appetite and weight control
- sleep cycles
- blood pressure and heart rate
- production of digestive juices
- balancing bodily fluids
When the body is sweating, the hypothalamus signals we are thirsty so it can balance body fluids and all the while it is doing this important job, it is not so worried about the other roles it has to do at that time. So, appetite is suppressed!
More fluids also make us fuller, so we tend to eat less
The digestive process also may make us feel less hungry as it generates certain amount of heat, which is suppressed by hypothalamus in order to control its workload.
All these reasons are why summer may be the ideal time to try to lose weight after all! Take warning though, as camping and social activities can bring lots of high calorie drinks and foods with alcoholic beverages, slurpees, pops, juice and highly saturated snacks as chips, hotdogs, smokies, marshmallows and more. The best way to ensure adequate nutrition is to understand the types of foods you choose to eat towards a balanced diet. All you need to do is to pay attention to nutrient dense, single ingredient foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, what to eat and what to avoid. Enjoy summer and the signals it gives your body. Eat foods that are lighter on your tummy and keep active to help ensure your weight loss goals!
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