Causes of Summer Weight Gain
Are you gaining weight this summer when you thought you would lose? A common misconception is that clients think they will lose weight in the summer since they are so active. But let’s dive into the causes of summer weight gain…
1. NOT ENOUGH SLEEP!
I can’t express this enough! I know it is hard to go to bed when it is still light out… I get it, but it is so important! Not only for weight loss, but brain health in adults AND children!
I had a Skype client last week who lives in Alaska and right now has about zero hours of complete darkness. That would be very difficult for anyone but prioritizing sleep is something we all need to work on.
Why is it so important? As the sleep chart shows, it increases hunger. When we are out late at a wedding or concert and I get less than my beloved 9 hours of sleep, I am a bottom-less pit the next day. I feel like I am hungry even though I have eaten a lot! Even the other night we were up with a terrible thunderstorm… #hungryallday!
Lack of sleep also increases the opportunity to eat. When I do presentations in the winter I drive by Dairy Queen at 9pm on my way home and it is empty, but in the summer there is a party in the parking lot! We average an extra 400 calories a day when you get less than 7 hours of sleep.
If you think napping counts as your sleep hours, it actually messes with melatonin production. It is best to get your sleep in one shot.
A. Certain minerals such as magnesium (the right type of magnesium is calming and can help with sleep.
B. Room-darkening shades! One of the best investments for our health. It really is “beauty sleep!”
C. Cool the room down. I keep our bedroom about 55 degrees while asleep. A cool shower would also help cool your body down.
D. Keep a routine. Calm your body down for sleep and do not do intense exercise hours before bed.
E. Cut off Screen Time: at least an hour before bed: DISCONNECT! I need to follow this advice more!
2. Skipping Weight Training
Are you thinking, “It is too nice out to go to the gym. Besides, I am getting enough cardio in anyway.”
I get it…there are only so many hours in the day and I too want to suck up every bit of summer before the bitter cold winter comes.
I also use to be a “Cardio Queen” myself but it wasn’t until I calmed down on the cardio and started strength training that my body totally changed. I write about my work-out regime in Keto Adapted.
My tip: I purchased weights at Target and lift outside in the mornings. My boys dance around me and laugh, but I love it! I listen to podcasts on nutrition or talk radio and the time flies by! I’m done before I know it.
3. Parties and BBQ’s
When do you find yourself over-eating? When you have a plate filled with the same thing or at a BBQ or potluck when you have a plate filled with a variety of flavors? When you eat for pleasure, rather than out of hunger, it can signal our brain to want that hedonistic experience more and more. But when you limit your flavor options, the brain gets bored and tells your body to stop sooner than it would if you switch flavor profiles.
The clients I deal with who tend to overeat often develop the same patterns of neural activity in reward areas as drug addicts do. Eating high carbohydrate foods, sugar and gluten can lead to cycles of craving and withdrawal.
I’m sure that you have heard the advice to eat slowly so your body has a chance to sense when it is full but that takes at least 20 minutes, which is far longer than we typically spend on a meal. Sensory-Specific Satiety happens a lot sooner, in minutes or even a few bite.
Sensory-Specific Satiety is processed in the orbitofrontal cortex, a region of the brain just behind the brow involved in sensory integration, reward processing and decision making. Neurons in that region respond strongly when we first taste a food, and the response gets weaker with each subsequent bite. When a different food is introduced, neuron activity jumps back to the high initial levels, instigating a response that can spur us to eat more even if we are full, as long as the next bite has a radically different sensory profile than what we had previously eaten. In other words, there is always room for dessert.
Summer BBQ’s are a terrible culprit for over-eating… a hamburger… a hot dog… a brat… cheeses, tuna salad, potato salad, chips, cookies, not to mention a tray of different desserts!
A. Limit your choices during BBQ’s or a meal: Don’t fill your plate with 3 or 4 options. Stick to 1 or two. A main dish and a side.
B. ADD more flavor!: Intense flavors help to exhaust the brain to help decrease gluttony. The flavor profile of the food you eat makes a dramatic difference in how much of it you want in one sitting. People reach this type of satiety much more quickly when they eat foods that have complex, intense or unfamiliar flavors, as opposed to mild or one-note taste profiles.
C. Increase Dopamine: Another risk factor for binging is having overindulged in the past. Once you have binged, that habit triggers more of the same behavior. When someone binges, there are fewer receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine, which signals pleasure, in the striatum, a brain area activated by rewarding stimuli. Fewer receptors suggest a lowered sensitivity to a substance such as food, an effect that may motivate an animal to consume more to get the same “high.” Similar decreases in dopamine receptors are seen in overweight people, as well as rodents and humans addicted to cocaine and heroin. How do you increase dopamine? Certain supplements and amino acids help a lot. I can certainly help with a consult if needed.
D. Eat before BBQ and parties. That way you know you are eating gluten free and keto. Focus on the socialization at the party rather than the food.
E. Mentally plan ahead on your eating game plan and bring a “healthified” dish to share. I always bring deviled eggs. Who doesn’t love a deviled egg??? I even have a few ongoing phone clients who love to text me their plate of what they are eating when I know they are going to an event so they make sure they don’t cheat.
This is when so many clients tell me they decide to consume whatever they want… a free pass to enjoy their vacation. But in the end, they always come back and say after a week of sugar they are struggling to get back on the wagon and felt quite terrible while eating on vacation. They say it almost ruined their vacation because they either felt sluggish, depressed, stomach pain or joint pain.
My Tips: Click HERE to see how we eat keto while traveling.
5. Treats in the House
Do you find your mind overwhelmed by the thoughts of the Ice Cream Sandwich in the freezer? My mom always had special treats in the freezer during the summer that she didn’t have around during the school year. Having these things around is a pitfall for many of my clients and the image of the treats hiding in the house consumes their mind.
My Tips: Make healthy ice cream treats and popsicles that are super easy and won’t take you off your ketogenic lifestyle and won’t send your kids off on a sugar high!
6. Lack of Routine/Weekend Eating
Do you wake up Monday morning with a “food hangover” and dreading the scale? In the past, I was what you would call a “week-day” dieter. I would be so good during the weekdays (probably because I was so busy) but on those relaxing weekends, I would let anything pass my lips. Yes, I said anything. All of the junk food I blog about staying away from, I was guilty of eating in my past life (several years ago). I would love Friday afternoons because it meant I no longer followed my rules of eating. I do not judge anyone for their diets because I was there once myself too. It was a long process to get where I am today.
Awhile back, Craig and I were at a Chinese/Sushi restaurant and I asked my husband “When was it, where I would see Crab Rangoon on a menu and not be tempted to order it?”… This wasn’t an over night process for me and I don’t expect it to be for you. One main thing that helped for me was to take note of how I felt in the morning after eating junk food. Just how awful I felt the next day helped me make better choices.
The average woman eats 400 more calories (most of them in the form of carbohydrates) on a Saturday or Sunday than she does on a weekday, which can lead to a 9 pound gain over the course of a year.
This yoyo weight gain also causes a tired liver.
My Tips: Instead of hating yourself on Monday morning, keep some of my “healthified” treats on hand. I always have my dairy-free ice cream and ice pops in the freezer when I need something sweet!
You all know how I feel about alcohol but the peer pressure at weddings and BBQs get to many. I even had a phone client who never drinks tell me she was going on a girls weekend and wanted to know what alcohol was most keto. Why would you feel pressure to drink when you don’t even like to? I’ve been there too, but now I love feeling strong and energetic in the morning, it isn’t worth the taste of alcohol.
She agreed and I helped her pick out a bottle of Steaz Tea (the zero calorie version, click HERE to find) which looks like a wine cooler and no one bothered her about not drinking.
I find it interesting that people gravitate towards alcohol in order to make them relax and feel better. We all know alcohol is a depressant. I feel there are much better ways to increase serotonin.
When people go on a diet, they often choose the light” version of their favorite alcoholic beverages in order to save a few calories. However, that is only a small piece of the puzzle. Fat metabolism is reduced by as much as 73% after only two alcoholic beverages. This scary fact shows that the primary effect of alcohol on the body is not so much how many calories we consume, but how it stops the body’s ability to use your fat stores for energy.
Muscle Tip: Drinking alcohol is the most efficient way to slash your testosterone levels; women…we don’t want this to happen either. Just a single event of serious drinking raises levels of the muscle-wasting stress hormone called cortisol and decreases the levels of testosterone for up to 24 hours. If you are working out to build strong fat-burning muscles yet consuming alcohol, this actually breaks down muscle further and you end up with a slower metabolism. This is because you break down muscle as you lift weights and you repair them as you rest if you have proper hormone levels…if not, you never repair your muscles properly!
Alcohol in the body is converted into a substance called acetate. Unlike a car that uses one supply of fuel, the body is able to draw from carbohydrates, fats and proteins for energy. When your blood acetate levels increase, your body uses acetate instead of fat. To make matters worse, the more you drink the more you tend to eat; and unfortunately, drinking will make your liver work to convert the alcohol into acetate, which means that the foods you consume at this time will be converted into extra fat on your body.If that didn’t sound bad enough; alcohol stimulates appetite and decrease your testosterone levels for up to 24 hours and increases estrogen by 300%. The infamous “beer belly” is really just an “estrogen belly.” Biochemically, the higher your level of estrogen is, the more readily you absorb alcohol, but the slower you break it down.
Also, we all know that alcohol dehydrates us. In order for fat to be metabolized, it must first be released from the fat cell and then be transported by the bloodstream where it is pushed to the liver to be used as fuel. If you are dehydrated, the liver has to come to the aid of the kidneys and can’t focus on its role of releasing fat.
Alcohol also affects every organ of the body, it’s most dramatic impact is upon the liver. The liver cells normally prefer fatty acids as fuel, and package excess fatty acids as triglycerides, which they then route to other tissues of the body. However, when alcohol is present, the liver cells are forced to first metabolize the alcohol, letting the fatty acids accumulate in huge amounts. Alcohol metabolism permanently changes liver cell structure, which impairs the liver’s ability to metabolize fats, which causes fatty liver disease.
To read more, check out my book: Secrets to a Healthy Metabolism. I have a whole chapter called “Alcohol, It’s Not Just the Calories!”
A. Purchase bottles of Steaz Tea, they look like little wine coolers so the alcohol-pushers leave you alone!
B. Make fun drinks instead! This Keto Pina Colada can be found in my book: Keto Restaurant Favorites on SALE today!