10 Surprising Causes of Summer Weight Gain – And Solutions

 

10 Surprising Causes of Summer Weight Gain – And Solutions

By Dr. Natasha Turner ND

Most of us think about putting on more padding during the winter months, when the holidays hit us with extra goodies from Halloween through New Year’s Day. Plus, those dark, dreary winter days can take a toll on our carb cravings, workouts, and raging appetite. Soon bulky sweaters and puffy coats provide good cover for cozying up to comfort food a little too often.

But truth be told, summer takes a toll on our waistlines, too. It may seem strange considering we spend more time outside and farmer’s markets are bursting with seasonal produce, but summer comes with its own landmines to navigate. A typical weekend could take you from your kid’s soccer game (where you grab breakfast at the concession stand), to a BBQ where hot dogs and hamburgers are the main course, to the ice cream shop where you treat your kids — and yourself — to a cone. Suddenly a summer Saturday filled with fun outdoor activities has introduced hundreds of calories into your diet that you otherwise wouldn’t have eaten.

I love summer vibes! Things slow down a bit in general, and work weeks may be shortened — ending on a Thursday, beginning on a Tuesday, or both. Though relaxing and taking time off are critical parts of routine, it probably comes as no surprise that being constantly on vacation or weekend mode can cause the pounds to creep up.

It’s nice to feel easy-breezy but applying that “vacation mode” mentality to your diet or activity levels isn’t advisable. Small mental shift can help you enjoy the best of both worlds, including my following recommendations:

  1. FOCUS ON BALANCE
  • Focus on balance. This will allow you to enjoy the ease of summer without relaxing too much on your fitness and healthy eating routine. The rule I tell my patients is, pick your poison! At dinner pick wine, a starchy carb or a dessert – not all three. And when you have a cheat meal my suggestions are: Get up in the morning and do fasted cardio – and then your breakfast after the sweat session, must be free of any carbohydrates, including fruit or carb sources like fruit, cereals, oatmeal or a bagel.
  • Examples of fasted cardio activities are walking for at least one hour at 6 KM per hour (download the Strava App so you know your speed) or an interval workout including 8 – 10 sprints of at least 20 seconds. Sprint and complete the next sprint once you feel you have recovered enough
  • If you can’t exercise, go for a carb-free breakfast within 45 minutes of rising, what I prefer looks like a scoop of protein with a 15 gram serving of marine collagen and BCAA’s with creatine (for example: 1.5 scoops of Clear Nova Scotia Marine Collagen, ½ scoop Clear Recovery and one scoop of Dream protein). Check out my three month breakfast challenge. A carb and fat free concoction like this will keep you in the ketogenic state until your first meal of the day that contains fat or starch. Ultimately, this will promote the burn of extra calories you took in from the night before and make sure you won’t suffer a set-back.
  • Also, walking in the evening or time slot following a cheat meal will significantly reduce the amount of fat that is stored. So eat-up – and then walk-on.

2. CONSISTENCY IS YOUR FRIEND

  • When it comes to healthy eating, consistency is your friend. Stick to your routine as much as possible. The two most important factors I stress with my patients is to have a shake for breakfast including a serving of marine collagen and protein (vegan or whey based). And another protein shake between 2 – 4 pm (perhaps containing the same protein at breakfast combined with a meal replacement).

This combo is excellent for fat loss and controlling cortisol and hunger. Plus, drinking the afternoon shake before attending any dinner event prevents you from over-eating and also reduces the impact on your body of consuming too many starchy carbs. Sticking to this – you may be able to enjoy your dinners without thinking too much or experiencing a jump on the scale.

3. HYDRATION IS KEY

When the heat and humidity are brutal, you need extra sips. For most people exercising less than 40 minutes water is the best way to rehydrate. Generally, only sweaty and lengthy activities call for sports drinks. For activities that last an hour or less that don’t work up a sweat, plain water is your best bet. In general, the formula for water intake is 0.55 times your body weight in pounds. Divide this number by 8 it will give you the number of cups you should sip – versus gup – per day for hydration.

If you’re exercising for over 90 minutes, you’re sweating heavily, or if your activity is short, but it’s particularly hot and humid, a hydrating sports drink is probably a better choice since after this amount of time your body will need carbohydrates as well as water to keep functioning optimally. Check out e-load as an electrolyte option. It was developed by a team of experts in Toronto.

4. IS YOUR SUNSCREEN MAKING YOU FAT?

Can’t lose weight no matter what? Maybe it’s your sunscreen. Who knew? Well, we’re beginning to figure it out. Now vitamin D has been declared missing in action by many leading experts in the nutrition and medical science community. This is a two-fold impact factor. One, traditional sunscreens include ingredients that have been linked to increased risk of skin cancer and secondly, sunscreens block our skins natural ability to produce vitamin d from sun exposure.

What’s more, vitamin D’s absence is now thought to be at the root of many chronic illnesses that are a menace to our society. Take home message that I want to stress and share is that our blood value, and I encourage you to ask your doctor to test it, should be close to or at 200 for optimal insulin and immune balance. And I recommend the use of sunscreens that are zinc and titanium based only.

5. BE CAREFUL WITH FRUIT SALAD

Surprise! Fruit may seem like a good choice—and it is— but make sure your salad is filled with canned fruit soaked in syrup, loaded with whipped cream, and garnished with mini marshmallows, as it often is at summer picnics. 

This is an incredibly heavy, high-calorie treat, and it’s about as devastating to your weight control, and your health, as you can get.

Cut calories by using fresh fruit rather than canned, light whipped cream or substitute plain yogurt, which provides added protein – or better yet – skip the cream all together.

Better yet, stick to one half cup serving of berries, a grapefruit, a kiwi or about 5- 6 ounces of watermelon as your selections list. These are the best fruit choices as they are lowest in the carbs that impact your blood sugars and they are best consumed around lunch or mid-afternoon versus the morning or evening for fat loss.

6. MAKE A BURGER BOWL INSTEAD OF A TYPICAL BURGER WITH A BUN

A beef burger topped with cheese contains saturated fat along with high levels of calories and sodium. My suggestion is to only consume grass-fed beef, and if you want top it with cheese, use low-fat Swiss slices, as Swiss cheese is the only cheese proven too be anti-inflammatory, which is a result of the bacterial culture in Swiss cheese that produces the characteristic holes.

My latest new thing – make your own Burger Bowl!

Here’s my chicken burger recipe to make your own burger bowl: 

  1. Pan fry garlic, onions.
  2. In a mixing bowl put one pound organic ground chicken, 1 egg, salt pepper and franks red hot sauce and mix with your hands. If I it’s too runny add gluten free or regular bread crumbs, then cook up your four patties.
  3. Take two of the patties, place it in a bowl. Cut them up and then add topings of your choice: chopped up lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, Cajun mayo, mustard, etc. Swiss cheese is your best low fat, high protein option.
  4. I did this this past weekend at the cottage – it’s yummy!

7. BEWARE OF UMBRELLA DRINKS…

On average, a piña colada or Long Island iced tea can clock in at 600 to 800 calories and when you drink alcohol you typically care less about what you’re eating. So my suggestion is to add high protein appetizer options to your outing like calamari or shrimp cocktail. And skip the sugary drinks. Those containing gin, white tequilla or vodka , mixed with soda and fresh lime or lemon are your best low calorie options. Tell the Bartender you want it in a short glass with lots of ice. Lots of ice is the secret to a great drink.  Also, check out Social Lite or Nutrl Vodka coolers – both are sugar free and low carb. (also both Canadian made – win win!)

8. FROZEN YOGURT MIGHT NOT BE MUCH BETTER THAN ICE CREAM

Frozen yogurt has many people fooled into thinking it’s a healthy food and you may think that somehow yogurt is yogurt, but you’d be wrong. Frozen yogurt typically has tons of added sugar and can even have more calories than ice cream. While frozen yogurt contains some protein, it’s often over 400 calories per cup and can contain as much as 26 grams of fat. Furthermore, the probiotic benefit from natural yogurt with active cultures is essentially missing, so if you indulge, have just a small scoop—and try to go for a walk after your indulgence.  Other good options to choose: protein enriched ice creams check out https://halotop.ca/flavours  – great ingredients, sweetened with erythritol, low fat and lower carb than regular frozen yogurt or ice cream. Or another option http://www.coolway.ca, which also contain fiber. A great hypoallergenic dairy free option that also with 4 grams of protein per serving is coconut icrecream https://coconutbliss.com.

9. HOLD THE CHIPS AND DIP

It’s easy to lose track of how many chips you’ve eaten, and the fat and calories add up quickly—especially when you dunk them into creamy dip. An ounce of potato chips contains 150 calories, and it’s easy to mindlessly eat two to three times this amount. Look for lentil chips or quinoa chips and skip the dip OR try one of these recipes for a dip AND use chopped veggies instead:

White Cauliflower Dip Recipe

  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
    • 1 small garlic clove, minced
    • 1/2 small shallot, minced
    • 1/2 to 1 cup water
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1-2 cups of cooked cauliflower rice
    • Optional: grated parmesan

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and whizz, adding water as necessary, until desired consistency is reached. Give it some zip with Frank’s Red Hot if you like some spice.

Nutty Capsicum – Cashew Dip

Bright red in colour, this nutty capsicum confection is perfect for the festive season. Combine a jar of roasted capsicums, 1/2 cup lightly toasted slivered cashews, 1/2 cup reduced fat parmesan, 1 crushed clove of garlic and the juice of half a lemon in a food processor or blender. You may need to add some water to make it more creamy.

Spinach & Ricotta

Packed with iron, this creamy spinach and ricotta dip is perfect for a summer BBQ. Combine 3 cups of baby spinach, 400g low fat ricotta, 1 diced small red onion, 1/2 cup low fat parmesan, 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt, 1 crushed clove of garlic and 1 tsp olive oil in a food processor or blender.

10. ADD HIGH FIBRE VEGGIES TO SALADS TO KEEP YOU FULL

Salads can be a great, low-calorie and are a common summer food choice—but most of us don’t include enough fiber. Leafy green like mixed greens, arugula or baby spinach as well as cucumber and celery are basically water rich but lacking much else when it comes to satiety.

The higher fiber veggies help us to fee full. My latest diet, The Hormone Diet Approach to Ketosis, prescribes and stresses the importance of consuming two cups of rich cooked veggies in the form of baked, steamed, stir-fried, soups or in cooled in salad greens (greens mixed with higher-fiber veggies like asparagus, broccoli, green peas, etc…are awesome to keep you feeling full as opposed to just having greens).  

Also, watch out for harmful fats in most packaged salad dressings. Fresh Dress or Stone Wall Kitchen, both have low carb and free of harmful fat options if you don’t want to make your own.  My basic dressing is to mix in a small jar: equal parts olive oil and apple cider vinegar, maple syrup to your taste – I always think less is more – mustard powder or Dijon, salt and pepper.

Many people load up on salad greens and then pile on the dressing.  But by avoiding buying soy-oil based products and those containing “vegetable fat” as listed on the label, which typically means it is cottonseed oil, you can come out ahead.

Keep these 10 tips in mind as you enjoy summer and keep your waistline in check. You can have fun, be social and enjoy life all while being health conscious and aware of more nutritious options. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall of the health wagon – it happens to the best of us. Just get up go for a speedy walk and start fresh.

Happy Summer All!

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