In the past two weeks I have heard the disappointed voices of a few friends that were doing so well on their diets until summer came. Then all their progress stalled. I’m here to offer some encouragement. Summer is not the season to lean out. Winter is. Let me explain.
Long days tell the brain that it is summer. Summer is the season where carbohydrates are most plentiful. Our evolutionary design is similar to other mammals. For survival purposes we gain fat before winter comes, because once winter arrives there will be less daylight and fewer sources of carbohydrates.
Summertime in Sequim, WA
The book Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival helped me understand the role seasons play on the hormones and how that effects the body. Because winter brings the possibility of famine, during the summer we all have an instinctive carbohydrate craving to store fat for hibernation and scarcity.
Modern vanity is the exact opposite of our evolutionary past. We allow ourselves to get fat from holiday parties, comforted in the fact that we can hide our winter weight underneath coats and sweaters. Then at the first sign of spring, the modern man decides it is time to get lean. Only at this point, the brain gets the signal that the days are longer and it is time to eat more carbohydrates. And every year we get a little bit heavier.
Since we now have an endless supply of food and there really isn’t a need to fatten up before winter, what should we do? My solution this summer has been to double my weight lifting, eat the occasional ice cream and take a break from intermittent fasting. In other words, I am not fighting it. I will use the growth signal and direct it towards muscle gain.
If you were successful dieting this summer – congrats. If not, don’t fret it. Your body was designed to gain fat during the summer. The time to get lean is approaching.