While spring is a great time to lose those extra holiday pounds, it is also a time that we can easily gain weight. Let me explain so that we can all become successful springtime fat burners.
Ayurveda is all about seasonal balance. If the scales tip out of balance, the seasonal influence can overtake us. Each season provides a circadian harvest to balance the qualities of that season. For example, winter is a cold, dry season with a balancing harvest of warm, higher-fat, and higher-protein food, like nuts and seeds. Summer is a hot season, balanced by a harvest of cooling fruits and veggies. Spring is a wet season, balanced by dry bitter roots and astringent veggies.
If the qualities of each season were not balanced or offset by the seasonal harvest, the cold of winter, the heat of summer, and the damp, congestion, and tendency to hold more earth and water (weight gain) of spring would overtake us.
Spring Weight Loss
Spring food is extremely austere, with a sparse harvest of bitter roots, spring greens, some spring hunting (if you’re a meat eater), and some late spring berries.
No doubt if we ate only what was in season, we would all flip into a ketogenic state where the body would burn fat instead of carbs for its primary fuel each spring. After a long winter of storing and sparing fat for reserve fuel and insulation, burning excess fat each spring is nature’s new year’s fat-burning reset.
Spring is the season of famine, calorie restriction, and resetting the ability to burn fat for fuel. In spring, we can get all the benefits of fasting, such as the internal scrub autophagy (a Nobel Prize-winning discovery) and the stimulation of regenerative stem cells.1,2
Normally, when the body is in balance, our cravings and appetite wane during this time of the year. With less rich and heavy food available in the sping, the body is forced to burn fat reserves for fuel. Fat is a more stable long-lasting fuel that quells cravings and binge eating. This makes the austere spring harvest a great time to fast, restrict calories, and lose weight.
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Spring: Kapha Season
If the body is out of balance and we continue to eat as we were in the winter (more breads, pasta, wine, cheese, and holiday-like foods), the energy of spring (kapha) can pack on the pounds—and perhaps more aggressively than in any other season.
Here’s why: kapha is the governing principle of nature that is heavy, solid, wet, unctuous, and damp—all qualities that can be attributed to spring. Each spring, kapha qualities not only increase in nature but inside us as well—no matter what your body type. Kapha body types, however, are clearly at greater risk for holding onto water weight and storing fat.
Think about it like this: if the earth is holding onto more water in the spring, so can we—and therefore gain weight. Of course, nature’s plan offers us an austere spring harvest that forces us to lose any extra weight, but if we do not eat enough seasonal foods designed to ward off the accumulation of kapha, we can gain weight rather than lose it in the spring.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Circadian Medicine won the Nobel Prize in 2016—it is really important that we stay in rhythm with nature’s cycles.
Weak Digestion Each Spring Increases Weight Gain Risk
During the fall and winter, digestive enzymes like amylase increase to help us digest starchy foods. The parasympathetic nervous system that boosts digestive strength also increases in the winter to help us break down the harder-to-digest, more dense foods of fall and winter, like nuts, seeds, grains, tubers, and meats.3,4
Come spring, the digestive strength we enjoy in the winter begins to wane. Breaking down those heavy winter foods becomes more and more of a challenge each day. By summer, most foods are cooked on the vine and therefore don’t need a strong digestive fire to break down.
Not needing to stoke a large digestive fire during the hot summer is one of the ways our ancestors were able to survive, hunt, and endure the long hot summers on the savannas of Africa without overheating.
Spring is also the season of famine or naturally occurring calorie restriction, so the need for a strong robust digestive fire wanes. So what if we eat too much food or food out of season in the spring?
Remember the study from the book The Forest Unseen about deer who had different seasonal microbes in their gut for digesting bark in the winter and leaves in the summer? When deer were fed bark in the summer when the digestion was weaker and they had the wrong bugs, it caused such a level of indigestion that it was almost fatal.5
If deer almost die when they eat out if season, what does that mean for us?
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Maximize Spring Weight Loss
There are many ways to encourage the body to burn fat each spring. Of course, the first line of action is with diet. You can download my free spring grocery list here and then circle the foods you enjoy and give yourself permission to eat as many of those seasonal foods as you like.
Take seasonal eating up a notch and sign up for my free seasonal guide, where on the first of each month, I send you a monthly grocery list, superfoods, and recipes to help guide you to be a better seasonal eater. Sign up here for free here.
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Practice Ayurvedic Calorie Restriction
In my free Ayurvedic Weight Balancing eBook, I give you a step-by-step guide to safe and effective weight loss by resetting your ability to use fat—not sugar—as your primary source of fuel.
This eBook is loaded with worksheets and hand-holding tips to ensure your success. The cleanse in the eBook is based on a pilot study I did for my book The 3-Season Diet.
Basics of Weight Balancing
- Step 1: Enjoy three meals a day with no snacks. Relax when you eat and make lunch the biggest meal.
- Step 2: Make supper smaller, like a soup and salad.
- Step 3: Make supper earlier, before 6pm.
- Step 4: Skip supper three to seven nights per week for two to four weeks. Drink one-half your ideal body weight in water per day. Repeat as needed.
The idea here is by slowly taking away the evening meal, you will be able to eat only two meals a day without straining. This will force the body to make longer trips without food, during which time you will kindly and gently encourage the body to change its preferred fuel to fat instead of carbs.
The results of our study are as follows:
Average weight loss: 1.4 pounds per week for six weeks.
Each of the 18 participants saw a significant reduction in anxiety, depression, fatigue, and cravings after work, along with improved sleep. These study results are all signs that they had all slipped into a fat-burning state—something we are all encouraged by nature to do each spring.
Ayurveda also recommends spring cleanses to reset fat metabolism and detox. Learn more about our cleanses here:
Happy fat-burning spring!