Summertime and the living’s easy, right? Not necessarily. If you’re like 70% of Americans who are overweight or obese, you may be wondering how to enjoy barbeques or get-togethers and avoid summer weight gain.
You might be thinking that most people are prone to unwanted weight gain in the winter, and while that’s certainly true, the summer months pose their own set of challenges. Evidence suggests people sleep less during the summer for a number of reasons, including increased exposure to daylight and just being too hot to sleep comfortably. Over time, this lack of sleep can lead to sleep deprivation, which increases the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol stimulates your fat and carbohydrate metabolism, creating a surge of energy in your body that drives sugar cravings, swelling and overall weight gain. It can also increase your appetite and leave you craving sweet, fatty and salty foods.
Five ways to avoid summer weight gain
Here are five ways to stay on track and avoid summer weight gain:
1. Stay hydrated
Dehydration is the number-one trigger for binge eating. Binge eating occurs when you eat a large quantity of food over a short period of time. Dehydration leads to your body going into starvation mode, so when you sit down to eat, your brain tells your body to eat as much as possible. That’s why it’s so important to stay hydrated. Here are some ways you can stay hydrated and avoid overeating:
- Drink at least 2 liters of water per day
- Drink sports drinks with electrolytes when you’re outside for an extended period of time
- Limit your intake of beverages that contain caffeine, alcohol and sugar
2. Make a plan
It’s easy to let your weight loss goals slip during the long days of summer. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy frozen treats, barbeques and snacks around the campfire. Summer parties always have plenty of unhealthy food options, too. It can be easy to get carried away, so it’s important to have a plan. If you’re not sure of the menu before an event, be sure to check out all of the food options before deciding what to eat. Look for healthy choices like grilled seafood, chicken or vegetables and be sure to watch your portions. Enjoy one moderately sized plate of food and be sure to sit down so you can enjoy it mindfully.
3. Give your days structure
It’s not uncommon to feel like limiting your activity during the heat of summer, but it’s important to keep a set schedule or routine. Wake up, eat and exercise at the same time each day to stay on track and avoid summer weight gain. A few great ways to beat the heat when exercising are swimming, lifting weights, playing indoor sports or trying an indoor exercise class. Meal planning can also help you maintain a healthy diet as well as anticipate and satisfy your dietary needs while keeping sugars and fats at a minimum.
4. Limit your alcohol intake
Not only are alcoholic beverages often high in sugar, but they can also contribute to dehydration. Limit your alcohol intake to one or two beverages per week to avoid gaining excess weight. If you are concerned about the social pressure to drink during an event or party, mix seltzer water with a sprig of mint or slice of lime. You can also bring one of these delicious, low-calorie beverage options: watermelon juice, pomegranate juice or iced tea.
5. Maintain a healthy diet
Good nutrition plays a major role in helping you lead a healthy lifestyle. When combined with physical activity and exercise, your diet can help you reach (and maintain) your weight loss goals. Avoid unwanted summer weight gain with these quick tips:
- Fill half your plate with a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Choose whole grains over refined grains (e.g., whole wheat bread, brown rice, rolled oats or quinoa).
- Reach for lean proteins like chicken breast, turkey breast, seafood, dry beans, peas, eggs, nuts and seeds.
- Stay hydrated with water and avoid drinks that contain sugar. You can also add fresh fruit to your water to give it a bit of flavor.
If you’ve tried everything to lose weight without success and are interested in taking control of your health through a gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy procedure, Dr. Wiljon Beltre can help. Call Beltre Bariatrics at 407-863-7108 to learn more about your surgical options. We specialize in weight loss surgery that effectively tackles obesity.