top of page

Winter Weight Gain: It Happens for a Reason.

For we all like figgy pudding,

We all like figgy pudding,

For we all like figgy pudding,

So bring it right here.

Surely not everyone likes figgy pudding? I don’t even know what figgy pudding is. Whatever your thoughts - we all know that this is a time of year for families, for gift giving and for feasting. It is also a time when our clothes fit a little tighter and (because we live in a fat phobic culture) we tend to feel bad about this. But you know what. Most people lose their winter weight in spring or summer. So what is going on?

Oh. And I am not a nutritionist. it is beyond my remit to give nutrition advice. I’m just a reader and really curious. This blog is brimming with links to the papers that my points have come from. Please do click on them to read more.

So. Why do we put on weight over winter? There are many theories. The first one makes the most sense to me:

Our Genes

There’s an idea called the ‘thrifty gene hypothesis’. It proposes that as the days grow shorter our body prepares itself for cold and for food scarcity by holding onto body fat. Researchers from the University Of Exeter, explain that we have two conflicting needs. We have a desire to eat (and gain weight) for energy while avoiding starvation, and a desire to not eat so much that we are vulnerable to predators. Using computer modelling they show the desire to fight against starvation is far greater than the desire to prevent overeating. This is heightened when food is traditionally more scarce over winter, so we're more susceptible to our evolutionary urges during these times.

Another theory is that we slip into -

2) Hibernation Mode

Melatonin is another little contributor to our absence of desire to go exercise outside in the cold and dark but instead to stay indoors and hunker down. Over winter our pineal glands respond to lack of sunshine by producing the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is a messenger that tells the body to shift from active to resting metabolic function and is often called the sleep hormone.

Melatonin also modulates the action of several key metabolic hormones such as insulin, ghr