4

votes

Is there a mechanism which has humans put on weight just before winter?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created September 08, 2012 at 7:15 AM

I have been noticing throughout my life that weight gains usually happen in the autumn and weight losses in spring and summer. Although this might be due to activity level, I have suspected that there is some genetic "compulsion" biological clock thingie at work which puts on fat like a bandit before the onset of winter. Anyone notice this as well? Any data for this?

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 08, 2012
at 05:22 PM

Also man has been purposely fermenting beverages for consumption since at least 10000 BC. And play has been around since long before hominids. So I bet there were a few Paleo men sitting around watching their kids play while throwing a couple back.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 08, 2012
at 05:01 PM

Ray, you completely missed the point. I was saying it is not evolutionary, and WE see weight gain because of modern circumstances.

Ba99a15e6bf870b81286791617050593

(671)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:32 PM

This is a eurocentric view of fat storage (and brings up a larger question on the paleo diet in general - I don't see many consciously heeding it in Africa). How does this apply to geographic areas in which fruit is always plentiful? In observing traditional diets the world over, such a 'fructose' explanation would make little sense for fruit and starch heavy diets in tropical climates.

Ba99a15e6bf870b81286791617050593

(671)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:29 PM

The question was: "Is there a mechanism which has humans put on weight just before winter?" While not a mechanism per se, the list above is probably just as likely to be an accurate answer as 'This article demonstrates how the correlation of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) correlates directly with fat storage and sugar cravings.'So, yes, really.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:07 PM

Cavemen had Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years? Cookies? and chocolate? Really???

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:06 PM

Oh really? cavemen had beer and TV and sunday football??!?

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5 Answers

1
Ba99a15e6bf870b81286791617050593

(671)

on September 08, 2012
at 12:40 PM

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.

Plus your company holiday party, the cookie swap, the neighborhood nog, and chocolate oranges.

I've always wondered about this when thinking about different animals, their geographic dispersal, and the range that humans inhabit across the world. Hibernation and fat storage obviously kicks in for a range of animals. I've lived in both four-season New Hampshire and no-season Nairobi and I don't feel I've noticed a difference. I think the spread of humans from hotter to colder climes has simply been too quick for evolution to generate a compensatory response.

Research is skimpy and all old (1957 is the most recently cited here): http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=2094&page=297

Much more likely is that hearty/sweet/hot foods simply taste better in the cold. Likely not so much a biological function as a food reward function isolated far more to individual feelings in the cold than seasonal changes per se.

Ba99a15e6bf870b81286791617050593

(671)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:29 PM

The question was: "Is there a mechanism which has humans put on weight just before winter?" While not a mechanism per se, the list above is probably just as likely to be an accurate answer as 'This article demonstrates how the correlation of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) correlates directly with fat storage and sugar cravings.'So, yes, really.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:07 PM

Cavemen had Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years? Cookies? and chocolate? Really???

1
887a9c6c0ee243584548f02d45c439a6

(415)

on September 08, 2012
at 11:00 AM

Sometimes, you'll find reasoning like: less sunlight (= less Vit D), more fructose (all the fruit), more n-6 (nuts)...put all together would mean you put on weight for winter.

See for example:
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-question-of-seasonality-in-human-health-and-nutrition/#axzz25sHEizUY
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fruit-fructose-availability-seasons/#axzz25sHEizUY
Kruse writes about this too but his writing is too difficult even for google to wade through effectively, so you'd have to look it up yourself :)

0
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 08, 2012
at 11:54 AM

I think it is just the great autumn and winter beers, coupled with Sundays watching football.

Activity is most likely. I know my exercise stays the same, but the small things, like walking a mile to the store rather than driving, or biking to work, are what I stop due to the MUCH colder weather.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 08, 2012
at 05:01 PM

Ray, you completely missed the point. I was saying it is not evolutionary, and WE see weight gain because of modern circumstances.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:06 PM

Oh really? cavemen had beer and TV and sunday football??!?

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 08, 2012
at 05:22 PM

Also man has been purposely fermenting beverages for consumption since at least 10000 BC. And play has been around since long before hominids. So I bet there were a few Paleo men sitting around watching their kids play while throwing a couple back.

0
98266ae0c87836d4bb714b6d31cacbf9

on September 08, 2012
at 07:45 AM

No there is nothing like that. As you suggested it could be due to the activity levels and i guess people do tend to eat more. IMO it is all in the mind, as YOU think winter season makes you gain weight. Subconsciously you end up eating more. The manner in which human's function is awesome. If you manage to convince yourself that winter season will help you lose weight, that is exactly what will happen.

From personal experience what i have noticed is that whenever i over eat it's never by conscious choice. It just happens and then i regret it later on. But over the past few months i have analyzed my eating patterns along with the emotions that make me crave specific items. I can say with confidence that i now understand how it all works for ME. I recommend everyone trying this out, see how emotions and events trigger your eating habits. This can work wonders and help you achieve all your health/fitness goals( of course easier said than done and sorry for going off topic)

-1
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:06 PM

Yes, ripe fruit are available at the end of summer and in plentiful amounts. The fructose in them signals us to store fat for the winter. Fructose messes with our sense of being full as well, so we're able to eat more, and therefore store more.

As there are few fruit that are mostly fructose, they also provide a large portion of glucose, which will raise insulin levels and cause us to store calories as fat.

Perhaps this is why you can eat a large meal of meat and veggies, and then still have room for a sweet desert?

Probably the longer daylight hours help with storing calories as well - there are also theories that if you stay up longer, you'll eat more, and store more fat, where as if you sleep longer you'll tend to burn it off.

This mechanism doesn't just apply to us, but also to animals, even ones that don't eat fruit - they also fatten up for winter.

Ba99a15e6bf870b81286791617050593

(671)

on September 08, 2012
at 01:32 PM

This is a eurocentric view of fat storage (and brings up a larger question on the paleo diet in general - I don't see many consciously heeding it in Africa). How does this apply to geographic areas in which fruit is always plentiful? In observing traditional diets the world over, such a 'fructose' explanation would make little sense for fruit and starch heavy diets in tropical climates.

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