With the ski and snowboard season just starting to wind down, people are getting ready to don their swimsuits and jump back onto their bikes, and many may find their spandex suits are feeling a tad snug.
Cristina Sutter is a registered dietitian with 10 years of experience providing nutrition and exercise counselling. She has a Bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Simon Fraser University and worked as a personal trainer before earning her Masters degree in Nutrition at the University of Toronto.
Sutter sees many clients that come in looking to tone up during this time of year, and recommends tweaking your diet to help get into shape.
“It’s very common for people to gain five or 10 pounds over the winter season, particularly over Christmas, but as well, from the cold, we’re not as active and we tend to choose heavier or richer foods,” said Sutter, adding that appetites tend to increase when we’re cold.
And just because you live in Whistler and ride a few times a week doesn’t mean you’re immune to winter weight gain.
“There’s a lot more evening dinners out and extra drinks here and there and that sort of thing that add up over the course of a few months,” Sutter explained.
Sutter points out that our nutritional needs don’t really vary from season to season, but in order to stay in good health we need to stay away from fast foods, which can be difficult when you’re circling the Roundhouse looking for a quick snack so you can get back out on the hill.
Convenient, popular meals and treats, like energy bars, iced coffees, muffins, paninis, hot dogs, and soda, are loaded with calories.
“If you’re going to the coffee shop, I would choose a latte over a frappucino… a sandwich over a muffin, a yogurt or a fruit over a cookie,” says Sutter. “Those kind of choices do add up.”
It’s also important to make sure you have “emergency” foods, like cut-up fruits and veggies, high-fibre crackers and low-fat cheese and hummus, canned tuna, and almonds, on-hand to keep you from making poor snacking choices.
“Convenient, healthy foods are necessary because at the end of the day, we’re going to grab whatever is fastest, so you want to have healthy choices that are easy and fast,” Sutter explained.
To help curb weight gain from calorie-laden quick fixes, Sutter recommends making your own sandwiches with lots of fresh vegetables, replacing pop and juice with water, and ditching white pastas, breads and rice for whole grains, which offer more long-lasting energy and will keep you from craving carbs for longer.