A recent study, conducted by the NSW Food Authority and NSW Health, has revealed that Australians are expected to gain 15 million kilograms in total this winter season.
The study, one of the first to investigate winter eating habits, revealed that half the population would gain up to two kilos each during the cooler months. Men were most likely to put on weight with 53 percent expecting a two to five kilo increase compared to 38 percent of the female population.
The main culprits, according to those surveyed, were a lack of exercise and a higher consumption of snack foods and takeaway.
"Last year only eight percent of the people surveyed knew that the average daily intake is between 8000 to 9000 kilojoules," says NSW Food Authority chief scientist, Dr Lisa Szabo.
Although results indicated an improvement in understanding kilojoule consumption, Andrew Cate, online weight loss coach and author of Healthy Heart For Life, believes we have a long way to go.
"The biggest challenge becomes comfort foods and what I call couch foods," he says. "People just want to stay in when the frost strikes and comfort foods are the best company for that."
It may seem as though the battle of the bulge is lost during winter but Cate believes a few adjustments will have you maintaining, if not losing, weight over the cooler months.
"Every trainer has their philosophy but I would stick to swapping your summer menu for winter options," says Cate. "It mixes it up a bit and it will ensure you're eating seasonal foods."
Cate advises that eating according to the season with leave you feeling fuller and satisfy even the most ravenous food cravings.
"Your body will get better nourishment and it won't crave more food to get adequate vitamins and minerals," he says. "If you're eating vitamin depleted foods, especially processed foods, your body is going to be craving more nutrients and craving foods to meet that need."
Eating according to the season does not mean you will be missing out on comfort foods.
"Try to consume those comforting winter foods that aren’t too bad for you such as porridge with skim milk or vegetable-based soups," he says.
Winter food diary
Cate recommends starting the day off with a bowl of porridge.
"Rolled oats, not quick oats," he says. "Use skim milk instead of full cream milk and substitute sugar with a chopped banana. You can add a few walnuts to include some good fats into your meal."
For lunch he suggests a bowl of minestrone soup served with a small wholemeal bread roll and a salmon fillet with mashed sweet potato and stir fried Asian greens for dinner.
"Snack only if you have exercised that day," he says. "Something like a piece of fruit or low fat natural yoghurt with a tablespoon of sunflower seeds. A snack should never be high in kilojoules but rather a means to get you through to your next meal."
Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed by the NSW Food Authority believed the main cause of weight gain this winter will be a lack of exercise.
"You need to keep moving because your lower activity levels will be a sure fire way to gain weight this winter," Cate says.
He recommends continuing with an outdoor exercise programme.
"Your body burns more kilojoules and fat when you're training in a cooler climate," he says. "For that reason health farms should be in the Antarctic, not the sunny Gold Coast."
For those who cannot bear to brace the cold, Cate advises engaging in activities you can do indoors such as creating a mini circuit or joining a gym.
"But adjust the exercise accordingly," he says. "For example, if you enjoy the treadmill, increase its incline to at least a two percent to make up for the lack of wind resistance. That way you won't be slugging it out for nothing."
Lastly, Cate advises to keep up your water intake.
"A lot of people don't drink enough water when they’re exercising in winter and that can lead to dehydration and pseudo hunger pains," Cate says. "Drink up, eat smart and keep moving this winter and you won’t have to face the spare tyre poking over your shorts this summer."
Need to chat to a personal weight-loss coach? Visit www.andrewcate.com