Have you ever noticed how the numbers on your weight scale sneakily creep upwards during the winter? How it usually starts around the beginning of December and goes on throughout January? Well, you’re not alone. Many of us suffer through the dreaded winter weight gain, especially those who work so hard at keeping those extra pounds off throughout the sweltering heat of summer.

One of the main causes of the winter weight gain is inactivity. It’s so (very) hard to leave that snuggly bed and motivate yourself for a workout — something that is, quite frankly, a tedious task for most of us at any time of the year.

On the whole, Pakistanis are fond of eating yummy, warm (and fatty) halwas and sweets. Cold weather calls out to people for foods like these, and we’re only human. With very active taste buds, and little else that’s active, bad things are bound to happen. But you know there are ways to have your cake and eat it too. There are foods you can enjoy during this tricky time of year and keep your weight down as well.

Apart from the obvious: balancing your activity levels and eating habits, here are my top 5  fat cutting foods of winter:

Citrus

You’d think that nature would produce citrus fruits in summers to quench that thirst. But these are kings of the winter season and for good reason. They are a rich source of vitamin C and fiber. They also boost your immune system, protecting you from those annoying colds and sore throats (if used in moderation, of course). Oranges, grapefruits and clementines are really helpful in cutting stored fat in the body. Half a grapefruit at breakfast for instance, supplies you with a rich amount of fiber and aids in weight loss.

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Oatmeal

For me, nothing is more soothing than a bowl of warm oatmeal on a cold winter morning. With my favorite toppings like walnuts and bananas, it’s the perfect winter breakfast. Chockful with pre-biotic fibers that selectively feed good bacteria to your gut, oatmeal may also positively influence how your body stores fat. I think it’s perfect winter breakfast. It will balance your blood sugar and release hormones that control satiety and hunger.

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Flax and chia seeds

These two are my favorite ingredients for a yummy breakfast smoothie. They’re cheap and easily available from anywhere. Both are rich in fiber and a great addition to morning shakes. I personally like to add a spoonful of flax seeds to a cup of yogurt and blend it with two bananas, honey and some water; it’s very filling and rich in proteins. They will help in weight loss and in controlling hunger pangs. Chia seeds are known to help balance out blood sugar levels and give a sustained amount of energy, making them the perfect pre-workout food.

chiaImage: Moda Magazine

Dark Chocolate

An occasional cheat day is very important if you’re planning for long-term weight loss. And who doesn’t like chocolate? A square or two? Okay, a bar. Especially when it’s so cold outside. Dark chocolate is rich and decadent; a small amount can perfectly satisfy the need for something sweet without pushing you overboard on the calorie front. It allows you the pleasure of a sweet treat with benefits (again, in moderation).

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Tea

Ah, tea — my all-time favorite beverage. And how lovely that tea comes with benefits. Add a cardamom, some cinnamon and snuggle down in your blanket with a book. Skip the seasonal coffees and shakes that add up to more than 300 calories and warm up this winter with some tea instead.

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So there you have it. Eat healthy (with occasional cheat days) and make a regular workout regime to stay healthy and feel great this winter. Got any other great tips for shedding those extra pounds in the winter? Let us know in the comments below.