Do we necessarily have to eat for four in cold weather? Do you burn more calories in the winter than in the summer? Does our diet need to be high in fat in order for us to withstand falling temperatures?

The idea that a (very) enriched diet is necessary for winter dates from a distant time, marked by the lack of modern comfort (central heating, etc.) and the need for many to carry out arduous work outdoors despite extreme weather conditions.

It is correct that when faced with cold, the body burns more calories to maintain a constant internal temperature. But since we don’t stay outside for long when it is super cold, there’s no need to compensate with a big extra intake of calories. With one exception: professional or sporting activities outdoors that require significant physical expenditure consume much more energy. This is true in summer, but even more so in winter. In this situation, a nutritional surplus is recommended.

In cold weather, a golden rule is that you never leave your home on an empty stomach.

  • Breakfast will consist of a cup of hot milk (with a tablespoon of honey), a bowl of hot chocolate, coffee or tea with milk. Fiber and protein side: wholemeal bread with lean ham, cheese or jam. For those who don’t like toast: a bowl of muesli, cereal with fresh fruit or oatmeal. End this first meal of the day with fruit and yogurt.
  • As a snack during the day: a few dried fruits or a cereal bar will be more than enough.

Even though the energy expenditure would be (slightly) higher in winter compared to summer, this is certainly no reason to binge on foods high in fat. Where to find that little extra calories? In foods that also provide a lot of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.

  • One additional slice of bread per day.
  • Start lunch and dinner with a bowl of soup (which warms and invigorates).
  • A double ration of vegetables, rice or steamed potatoes.

Regarding vegetables, focus on seasonal products: cabbage, chicory, turnips, etc., which are also invigorating.

Betsy Wilson

A true science nerd and pediatric nursing specialist, Betsy is passionate about all things pregnancy and baby-related. She contributes her expertise to the Scientific Origin.