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4 Culprits Of Summer Weight Gain—And How To Conquer Them

People often associate winter with being the season we pack on a few (or more) pounds. Between the holiday festivities full of drinks and treats, and the necessity of staying inside due to freezing temps, it’s prime time to plus up your waistline. But summer weight gain is also very real.

There are a few ways the summer season can lead to an excess of unwanted pounds. Luckily, you can avoid tipping the scale and decrease bloating with a few lifestyle tips.

Slow Down On Summer Cocktails

Hot summer months can often lead to days spent outdoors sipping on frozen and fruity alcoholic beverages (think frozen margaritas and piña coladas on the beach). But too many can wreak havoc on your weight.

“These beverages are loaded with refined sugar, which is highly inflammatory and high in calories,” says Trista Best, M.P.H., R.D., L.D.. “Both of these characteristics of frozen or fruity cocktails can cause summer weight gain,” she warns.

Swap your poolside cocktail for a DIY wine spritzer or margarita made with only fresh lime juice, tequila, Cointreau, and agave nectar, Best suggests. (Pre-made mixes are usually loaded with sugar.) “If you’re wanting a mango or strawberry margarita, simply puree these fresh fruits,” she adds.

Make sure you keep a reusable water bottle with you when drinking—and alternate drinks with H2O or sparkling water, if you plan to have more than one. (FYI: The daily recommendation for women is one alcoholic drink and two drinks for men.)

Read More: Exactly What To Eat And Drink After A Hot Summer Workout

Keep Your Schedule On Track

A big culprit of summer weight gain is the freedom to break from your normal routine. “The lack of structured meals and work schedule means that people snack more and those snack calories add up,” says Upton.

Whatever season it is, try to stick to balanced meals and keep snacks to a minimum. When you do snack, opt for foods that have protein and good fats to fill you up.

And then, of course, there’s vacation—which many people find majorly throws off their healthy routines and contributes to weight gain. “A large part of [vacation] relaxation includes enjoying food that you normally don’t have the chance to eat,” Best says. “Unfortunately, vacation calories still have an impact on health.”

To keep your vacay from totally throwing off your game, “rather than indulging during every meal of the day, choose one meal where you allow yourself to eat whatever you’d like,” she suggests.

Whether you’re at home or on vacation, prioritize daily movement that makes you feel refreshed and accomplished. Whether that’s going for a walk on the beach or doing an online HIIT class in the backyard, both formal workouts and other physical activities are helpful in keeping your body healthy and strong all summer long. “Lean muscle burns calories simply by existing, so weight lifting is also a great addition for most people at least twice a week,” says Best.

Cool It With The Frozen Treats

Who can resist an ice cream cone on a hot summer day? Seasonal treats, though fine on occasion, can add up calories (and weight) in a big way if you make them daily staples.

“Summer months and heat increases our cravings for cold ice cream and sugar-filled frozen treats,” says Best. “We add these to our diet in the summer when we normally wouldn’t in other seasons.”

Again, here, balance is key, Best says. Focus on keeping as much of your eats nutritious and whole foods-based as possible—and consider ice cream a special treat to look forward to.

When you treat yourself, consider opting for nutrient-rich toppings, like walnuts, dark chocolate chips, and nut butters, she suggests.

Or, go for yogurt-based summer treats, which have gut benefits. “Yogurt popsicles can easily be made at home using whole ingredients and no sugar,” Best says. (These nice cream recipes also making treating yourself nutritious and delicious.)

Read More: 8 Steps To Getting Back On Track With Your Weight Goals

BYOF (Bring Your Own Food) To The Party

Summertime means extra time with friends and family outdoors, but your socializing may be a culprit of your weight gain.

“Socializing seems to increase over the summer months, especially as people are feeling comfortable with socializing post-quarantine,” says Best. These activities are generally food-centered, with loads of high-calorie foods or finger foods, that add up in calories quickly.

When heading to an outdoor barbecue or beach hangout, bring a healthy dish or snack or two with you. “This makes it easier for you to fill up on nutrient-dense foods and avoid overeating processed foods that will leave you feeling hungry soon after.”

If you’re socializing outside in the heat, make sure to stay hydrated so you don’t mistake thirst for hunger, Best says. When in doubt, give yourself at least 20 minutes between rounds of snacking so that you can actually feel your fullness before going back for more. Should you feel snacky during that window, sip on some H2O.

Finally, whenever possible, find ways to incorporate fun activities into any outdoor social events, Best says. Everything from beach volleyball to badminton goes.

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