I have been a personal trainer in Swansea for many a year now and the busiest period of the year for me is always a couple of weeks into January.
So why do so many people gain weight over Christmas?
Well it’s obvious isn’t it? Traditional Christmas foods, snacks all around the house, staff parties and family get togethers.
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that our hormones have a major effect on our weight at Christmas time!
High levels of stress is highly linked to weight gain and as we know Christmas time can be a very stressful time, especially for women who often take on the majority of the Christmas tasks like buying presents and cooking dinner. All of the stress can build up which then causes a hormonal cascade which leads to a big weight gain!
So what are the three hormones that affect our weight Christmas time?
What ghrelin does is cause you to feel hungry. High levels of this hormone can result in borderline uncontrollable food cravings where you will not be satisfied until you have eaten what you are craving. So over the Christmas period it is more than likely that these types of foods will be chocolate, cakes and sweets rather than carrots, parsnips and apples!
Ghrelin affects our brain directly at the hunger centre and keeps us lurking by the fridge after eating. High ghrelin levels leads to fat gain whether you eat or not, so the solution is to reduce your ghrelin levels.
Good news though there is a way to reduce your high levels of ghrelin, it’s also easy to do … Sleep! A regular sleeping pattern will dramatically reduce the levels of ghrelin, aim for 8-10 hours and you’ll be fine. Don’t try and counter it with 5 cups of coffee in the morning or red bull during the day, just get as much sleep as possible and you’ll be fine.
A solution to lower your insulin resistance would be to try drinking 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before a high quality meal rich in good carbohydrates. This should help to regulate your blood glucose levels and allow our body to burn fat again. A lot of the fat is stored in the abdominal region which is why so many people struggle to get rid of belly fat.
The third hormone which can lead to weight gain at Christmas is cortisol. As you may already know cortisol is the hormone that the body releases while it is stressed. Cortisol is directly linked to increased body fat, particularly in the belly area. High cortisol levels increase cravings for carbohydrates and sweet things which will ultimately lead to body fat.
High cortisol levels can also lead to the body breaking down muscle tissue to use for energy, this will lower your metabolism which will ruin your fat burning potential!
The more abdominal fat you have means more cortisol is released which makes up a very vicious fat gaining circle!
It seems all roads lead to the same destination – weight gain caused by stress messing up our hormones.
So we need to lower our stress levels. Simply by moving to a quiet area, relaxing and trying some deep breathing exercises which take less than a minute will reduce your cortisol levels massively.
So for this Xmas holiday the key to success is to attempt to stay stress free, sleep well and enjoy. This will help you beat the cravings and keep your hormones in check.
I hope this opens your eyes a bit to the science behind fat gain, as you can see it can be down to a lot more than poor will power.
Thanks for reading,