Whether you want to lose weight for your health or to get ready for swimsuit season, choosing the spring season to get started is a smart decision. Spring is your friend.
The warmer weather offers you some perks that the other seasons don’t, starting with the ones you know about (more opportunity to exercise outside in the sunshine) and a few you don’t (you may be automatically eating less anyway).
Here are six surprising reasons why you should “spring” into a new healthy weight loss plan when Daylight Savings Time kicks in.
1. You may already be cutting calories and not know it.
On average, people eat about 86 fewer calories in the spring than in the fall, according to one study, published in the journal Nature. Previous studies found a 222-calorie difference between fall and spring.1
No one is really sure why. Some researchers think it could be that, like chipmunks, we tend to eat more to stockpile calories during the winter months. Then when spring arrives, we automatically cut back. However, other scientists think it could be due to the holidays and increased opportunities to indulge.2 Whatever the reason, we love the fact that spring offers more opportunities to get active and enjoy lighter meals with fresher ingredients.
2. Exercising in the heat may burn more calories.
Yes, your body burns calories when you’re cold just to keep you warm. But it may do an even better job when you’re already warm. Some studies suggest that you might expend more cardiovascular energy pumping blood to your skin to make sweat to cool off than you do shivering to make yourself warmer, says the American Council on Exercise (ACE).3
There’s also more opportunities to get active with warmer weather. Take a walk at the park, go for a hike or do some yardwork. Spring cleaning will also get you up and moving. Check out the link below for nine warm weather activities that can help you boost your burn!:
3. Lighter and healthier food is more available.
Farmers markets are starting to open, offering crisp lettuces, spring onions, fresh peas, slender stalks of asparagus, tender fiddleheads, sweet strawberries and cherries. Mac and cheese is now starting to look less appetizing, while lightly dressed salads and handfuls of fresh fruit are your biggest temptations (feel free to indulge!). And barring Easter, Passover and upcoming barbecues, there aren’t really a lot of holidays that are a minefield of delicious but high-calorie and fatty foods.
Not sure what’s in season during spring? Stock up these eight seasonal ingredients that are at the top of our spring shopping list! >
4. Sunshine makes you happier.
Weather matters to your mood. Exposure to the sun may help you feel more positive and that can give you more impetus and motivation to lose weight successfully.4 Who makes that kind of huge undertaking while feeling negative and discouraged?
Winter is the worst time for people who suffer from mood disorders.5 There is even a specific type of seasonal depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a condition often treated with light therapy.6 Speak to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about SAD or any other mood disorders.
The difference between winter and fall versus spring and summer? More sunlight and more serotonin. According to ScienceDaily, serotonin regulates emotions, mood and energy. Citing research out of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, they explain that “serotonin transporter levels,” which remove serotonin, were greater in study subjects in the fall and winter in comparison to the spring and summer. Therefore, “this discovery argues that there is more serotonin removal in the fall/winter as compared to spring/summer. Also, the higher serotonin transporter binding values occurred at times when there is less sunlight,” says ScienceDaily.7
5. You may synthesize more vitamin D.
Another benefit of having longer sunny days in spring is that you’re outside more and your body is producing more vitamin D. The fat-soluble vitamin is found in very few dietary sources. It is made naturally in the body when the sun’s ultraviolet rays land on the skin, says The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.8
According to research, published in the journal Nutrients, low vitamin D levels are associated with higher Body Mass Index (BMI) and obesity. On the other side, weight loss has been shown to lead to increased vitamin D levels.9
There are many theories on why this association exists and more research is needed on the matter. However, it’s no secret that vitamin D is needed for proper health. This fact alone is a good excuse to get outside and get a little sunshine, making spring a great time to start that outdoor walking regimen.
5. You may sleep better.
Another benefit of spring’s increased hours of daylight is that it can help adjust your body’s own natural sleep-wake rhythm so you’re more likely to be sleepy at night and perkier in the morning, according to the Sleep Foundation.10
What does sleep have to do with weight loss? According to the Sleep Foundation, study after study has shown that getting too little sleep can increase your risk of weight gain and obesity. One reason: Lack of sleep can affect the production of your body’s appetite hormones, increasing the one that tells you to eat and decreasing the levels of the one that tells you that you’re full and to stop eating. Research has also found that not getting enough sleep can make you hungrier, especially for quick-energy foods like refined carbohydrates (bread, cake, cookies, and other sweets).11
Another reason that the spring season is the best time to help you lose weight? All that sunlight can help boost your vitamin D levels. Just as vitamin D may brighten your mood, it can also help regulate your sleep cycle. Low vitamin D levels are linked to sleeplessness, short sleep duration, poor sleep quality and sleep disorders, according to a 2018 review article, published in the journal Nutrients.12
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