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The Fed state: Seasonal Eating, What Works Now...May Not Work Forever

By Jon Molofsky

The Fed State is part of an ongoing series of posts that is related to food, diet, nutrition, and reaching nutrition goals. This is the second part of the series where we will dive into seasonal eating and why something has maybe worked for a while but then falls short just before reaching our goals. We are going to discuss how to address different times of the year calorically, adjusting to the sunlight, activity, and making the best decisions we can to keep the metabolic fire burning.

The first quarter of the year it is darker for longer, the temperatures have decreased, and there is an increased amount of snowfall and rain. This can lead to less activity due to shorter daylight and foul weather. What can this do to our bodies? It can cause less activity, less movement and for the most part, we are a little more inclined to sit by the fire reading as opposed to being active late into the evenings. We slow down, we drive more, walk less, hibernation starts! In the summer we have sunlight until 9:30-10:00 PM! The sun is up just before we are at 5:00 AM, we get outside more. Also, increased vitamin D intake from sun exposure helps boost metabolism, so our activity potentially increases with each added hour of light. We need to adjust for these different time periods in the year and change our diets accordingly.

In the previous post, we talked about being in a prolonged deficit and how that can reset your normal “set point” and lower metabolism. We talked about adding metabolic fuel to the fire in small doses, this is what we need to be doing as the season changes. We need to adjust our daily intake of food depending on the daily activity (adding fuel to the fire) that can be brought on by the seasonal changes.

Spring is here! It's time to start thinking about a calorie increase with the added sunshine and daylight hours. Our bodies need the nutrients to be ready for summer’s increased activity. By adding 100-200 calories a day, you're going to have more energy, better mood regulation, and more potential to grow muscle. Along with an uptick in energy, anabolic hormones will be kicking in, and growth hormones will be coming back online. This is just good healthy muscle gain.

Now as the days of summer quickly go by, and the daylight fades, consider backing off the calories as your activity declines. This is especially important in the mud season going into winter. Reduce, but only enough to allow for a change in activity, somewhere around 100- 200 daily calories. Watch the scale and look to maintain your current weight. We want to eat as much as we can while maintaining solid body composition. Small increases or decreases are the best way to stay lean year-round.

Always eat for the activity that you plan to participate in. Try to stay out of a prolonged deficit. Avoid long periods of time in an underfed state, and make small adjustments to keep the metabolic fire going. As always, keep in mind that the quality of food is important. Quality matters, look for single-ingredient foods. Less processed food gives you more energy and bang for your buck. Look for protein first then fill in with vegetables. Try and cook your own food. When you cook, you know exactly what you are putting in it. Simply, maintain a balance of calories in and calories out. If you can start to adjust and dial in all these various components you are setting yourself up for success. This may look like a lot to take in, but really just a little focus, dedication, and consistency can yield great results.

So, until next time stay in the fed state! It’s the place to be!

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