Unlike winter months, which often have added pressure from New Year’s resolutions and limited daylight hours, summer lends itself well to weight loss. It presents plenty of fun opportunities to burn calories when it’s nice out, eat seasonal whole foods and more. “Summer is the perfect time for weight loss, and it doesn’t have anything to do with fitting into a swimsuit — it’s about getting healthy,” says Sarah Pflugradt, RD, author of “You Get One Body.”
Here, four reasons why the warm-weather months can help fuel your weight-loss success, according to fitness and nutrition experts.
YOU CAN SPEND MORE TIME EXERCISING OUTDOORS
“Outdoor activities are way more accessible during the summer [than winter], and they’re fun,” says Ben Tzeel, certified strength and conditioning specialist and registered dietitian. “While people tend to think of exercise in traditional forms like going to the gym or lacing up for a run, being outdoors allows for a wider variety of activities like hiking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing and more.”
This season, get moving with calorie-torching summer activities, including bucket list-worthy wildflower hikes, vacay-friendly workouts and watersports. Even activities like planting a garden can help you up your step count and contribute to your health goals, adds Pflugradt.
YOU CAN FILL UP ON FRESH FRUIT
“The abundance of fresh produce in the summer from backyard gardens and farmers markets makes it the perfect time to increase the amount of healthy, whole foods in your diet,” says Pflugradt. Summer fruits like berries have a high water and fiber content, both of which make you feel full with fewer calories.
Head for your local pick-your-own farm to stock up on fresh strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and more. You’ll boost your step count and eat healthier. For example, try making your own jam with the fruit you pick, suggests Pflugradt. “That way, you can control the amount of sugar.” Knowing highly processed foods are linked to weight gain, the more you can stick to whole foods and homemade versions of your favorite jellies and spreads, the better.
MEDITERRANEAN STAPLES ARE IN PEAK SEASON
In the summertime, it’s easy to embrace the Mediterranean diet, which calls for fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins (like fish, chicken and lamb) and healthy fats like olive oil, says Pflugradt. If you’re overweight or obese, the Mediterranean diet can help you lose weight and improve your blood pressure, among numerous health benefits, per a review in the American Journal of Medicine.
CAMPING CAN HELP RESET YOUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM
Poor sleep is a weight-loss nightmare: “It not only halts weight loss, but also induces weight gain,” says Tzeel. “Sleep deprivation alters hunger and satiety hormones ghrelin and leptin, which makes you feel hungrier and may explain why you tend to overeat on days you’ve slept less,” he explains. If you’re low on zzz’s, a summer camping trip could help by resetting your body’s biological clock to be more in tune with the natural light-dark cycle. As one (albeit, small) study in Current Biology shows, one week of camping with exposure only to natural light (yep, that means no glowing cell phones) can help reboot your circadian rhythms, potentially giving you a leg-up on your weight-loss efforts.