With winter upon us, our exercise routine is likely to change. While there are many outdoor activities to be enjoyed, certain weather conditions may force our exercise sessions indoors. Winter can also be an off-season period for many sports. This can mean our training is reduced. If your activity decreases, you’ll want to pay careful attention to your changing calorie needs to avoid unnecessary weight gain.
To maintain a healthy weight, it is important to adjust your food intake to match your energy needs. If what we eat and drink matches the calories that we burn, our weight will stay the same. If our exercise and training decrease but we don’t decrease what we eat and drink, than that can lead to gradual weight gain. So, if you are in a recovery period or just tend to reduce your activity levels in the winter, you’ll want to reduce your daily intake.
There are some simple steps we can take to achieve this. Sometimes it can be as simple as reducing our portion sizes at meals. If we are used to scooping out large servings of grains, cut this down by a half. Our protein portions can be quite large, and this can be reduced as well, say, by going from 6 ounces of meat to 4 ounces. For some individuals, simply choosing smaller/lighter snacks helps to adjust for lower activity levels. Perhaps you go from having some cookies with milk to having a creamy Greek yogurt. Or those nachos get traded out for a string cheese and apple. I have even seen people make significant changes just by drinking water instead of juice and soda.
Some individuals may wonder what are their calorie needs. There are equations that estimate how many calories we should consume to avoid weight gain, and these are often used by certain websites that give calorie recommendations. I would recommend the USDA’s website to help you find a calorie goal that is appropriate for you - https://www.supertracker.usda.gov. For a more precise, individualized estimate of your calorie needs, you can go to Intermountain’s LiVe Well Center in Salt Lake. There they use a machine called a metabolic cart that uses your gas exchange to get a more accurate idea of your specific calorie needs. To schedule this service please call (801) 282-2700.
However you choose to do this, make sure you’re making any necessary adjustments with your eating to account for lower activity levels in the winter. That way, we’ll be ready for the summer months when they are upon us.