Active NAtion

<- back to the locker

Staying warm and healthy

It may be cold outside, but winter needn’t be the unhealthiest time of year for you and your family. With a bit of planning you should be able to enjoy seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, and keep active.

Does cold weather slow down my metabolism?

If you find yourself putting on a bit of weight during the winter months, you might think that it’s because of the weather.  But cold temperature alone doesn’t  slow down the body’s metabolism.

Gaining weight during the cold winter months is usually a result of a bit more rich food during the holidays, and not doing quite as much exercise as usual. It’s the body’s natural mechanism to help survive the cold weather; however, sitting in a warm office snacking all day probably isn’t what Mother Nature intended!

A slower metabolism is usually due to changes in your endocrine system, often the thyroid, which results in your core body temperature dropping, and with this drop can come a slowdown in metabolism.

Speeding up your metabolism

If you want to speed up your metabolism, focus on building muscle, which burns more calories than fat. Eating regular small meals – including breakfast – instead of one or two large meals can keep your body consistently nourished and help you avoid entering starvation mode, which slows the metabolism. Interval training, which incorporates brief bursts of intense exercise into an otherwise moderate workout, can also help boost your metabolism for several hours after your workout.

Staying healthy in Winter

Here are six ways to make sure that even when your body is telling you to hibernate, you can keep healthy and fit.

1. Get enough sleep

On average we sleep six-and-a-half hours a night, less than the recommended seven to nine hours.  So long, dark nights are an ideal time to catch up on any shortfall from the party season.

2. Drink more milk

You are 80% more likely to get a cold in winter, so build up your immune system with milk and dairy products which are great sources of protein and vitamins A and B12. Dairy products are an important source of calcium which helps keep our bones strong, but choose semi-skimmed or skimmed milk – rather than full-fat – and low-fat yoghurts.

3. Keep active

Don’t use the cold winter months as an excuse to stay in and watch a screen! Why not try a new activity – maybe ice skating or taking a bracing winter walk.   Regular exercise helps control your weight and boost your immune system.

4. Phone a friend!

Socialising helps strengthen your immune system by keeping you active and reducing your stress levels. Invite friends over for dinner or host a games night, visit local museums and art galleries or plan a cinema date with your partner.

5. Start as you mean to go on

Eating a warm bowlful of porridge on a cold morning isn’t just a delicious way to start your day, it also helps boost your intake of starchy foods and fibre. This gives you energy and help you feel fuller for longer, stopping the temptation to snack mid-morning. Porridge has been proven to prevent heart disease and reduce cholesterol, so an excellent meal to kick start your day.

6. Eat more fruit and veg

When it’s cold and dark outside, it can be tempting to fill up on unhealthy comfort food, but it’s important to ensure you still have a healthy diet and include five portions of fruit or vegetables a day. This keeps your vitamin C high and boosts your immune system. Instead of reaching for the biscuit tin, try a juicy satsuma or some dried fruit.

How to include more seasonal vegetables

Enjoying seasonal foods means that you eat them at their tastiest, and they’re often cheaper than imported options. Winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, swede and turnips can be a bit of a culinary challenge, but with a little effort they can be delicious. Try chopping and roasting a mixture of root vegetables for a tasty accompaniment to roast dinners. Mashed sweet potatoes are a tasty side dish to roast ham. Or add some swede or cabbage to your regular mashed potato. Soups and stews can be an easy option for a comforting winter meal for the whole family – the preparation time tends to be short but you need to be organised an hour or two before your meal.  Slow cookers are a good way to do the preparation at the beginning of the day, and enjoy a warm casserole for dinner.

Try our warming and hearty winter recipes; Chunky Minestrone Soup   Tricolour Winter Salad  and Warming Chicken Casserole

Active Nutrition

From personalised dietary profiles, recipes and tailored meal plans, to comparing food prices and delivering your shopping direct to your door. We've got it covered. Join online today for £2.99 a month.

Feeling social?