When you’re trying to slim down, winter can be a tricky time of year to stay on track.
Here, five expert-backed strategies to help you fend off cold-weather weight gain like a champ:
USE THE COLD TEMPS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
When the temperature drops, so does our motivation to exercise. Sure, snow squalls have a way of adding drama to even the simplest of errands, but they can also do your body good—activities like shoveling snow, scraping ice off your windshield, power-walking down a poorly-plowed street, and having a snowball fight with bae can burn major calories, not to mention rev up your metabolism and promote insulin sensitivity (which can help quash sugar cravings), says Florida-based registered dietitian Alyssa Cohen, R.D.
EXPAND YOUR FRUIT AND VEGGIE CONSUMPTION
Once your go-to farmers market shuts down for the season (sobs), the lack of easily accessible produce in the winter may cause you to reach for more convenience foods, like salty snacks or baked goods, especially as supermarkets start putting out their holiday spread. However, there are plenty of nutrient-dense—and super-tasty—fruits and veggies available when it’s chilly, says Cohen. Greatest hits include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and many citrus fruits.
Not a fan of what’s in-season? Don’t fret: Opt for frozen out-of-season fruits and veggies, which are just as nutritious since they’re frozen at peak freshness.
DON’T FORGET TO HYDRATE
“Hydration can fall by the wayside during the colder months when we’re sweating less and focused on staying warm. However, drinking water before a meal may help reduce total energy intake and assist with portion control—both of which are important for weight loss.
Also, remember that meeting your hydration needs doesn’t always have to be done with cold water: Stave off the shivers by flavoring hot water with in-season fruit, such as orange slices, or frozen out-of-season berries.
SOUP UP YOUR FAVE COMFORT FOODS
Comfort foods are another way we cope with sub-zero temperatures. And nothing beats soups and stews—but not all are created equal, especially when weight loss is your goal.
Skip the heavy, creamy options (think: broccoli and cheddar) and go for a broth or tomato-based soup that’s loaded with veggies. As for stews, these tend to be loaded with carbs (potatoes, corn, rice, pasta). Cutting the carbs and boosting the protein content of your recipes by adding meat, fish, or tofu, lowers insulin levels in the body, which can help prevent extra fat storage.
FOCUS MORE ON HEALTH—AND LESS ON WEIGHT
Losing the visual cues associated with weight management can actually work to your advantage, giving you the chance to focus on how you want to feel instead.
“Those who want to change certain behaviors because it’s genuinely important to them tend to have more success than those who are rewarded through external sources, like wanting to be a certain size,” says Cohen. When you’re bundled up, you might find it easier to focus on the little things that can help you reach your goals—such as increasing your veggie intake or adding more steps to your day—and lead to major weight and body-composition change, she adds.
Show winter who’s boss by strutting outside in your coziest attire and maintaining your status-quo activity levels. And instead of lazing around your pad after a long, chilly week, amp up your calorie burn through winter sports, like cross-country skiing or ice-skating. Your metabolism will thank you.