- Diet & Weight Loss
Natural Strategies to Help Lose Belly Fat
- In a recent medical study entitled "Sweet craving and ghrelin and leptin levels in women during stress." scientists showed that women under stress were more prone to sweet cravings, they had larger hip circumference, more abdominal fat and altered leptin and ghrelin levels.
- Leptin and ghrelin are responsible for hunger and how often we eat. They are called the hunger hormones of the body and they are closely related to cortisol and the stress hormone.
- Leptin levels are also affected by sleep
- Other studies show that when we are in a deprived super hungry state, leptin levels may not stop overeating or obesity
Stress impacts belly fat
What the research is telling us:
Essentially although exercise and food may play an important role in weight loss, they are by no means the only factors affecting weight gain or weight loss. In fact more and more research suggests that stress and chronic stress can seriously impede weight loss.
Leptin levels are one key to managing weight loss and cravings for food. Leptin is a fairly new hormone and it was only really discovered in the late 1990s.
A lot of research has been done since then and it is now widely accepted that leptin levels determine whether the body stores fat or whether it allows fat to be broken down. It is therefore the deciding factor in whether we store or lose belly fat and weight in general.
Leptin levels are therefore crucial in your weight loss efforts. Studies suggest chronic stress can negatively impact leptin levels so if you are suffering from constant stress then your chances of losing weight are severely diminished. Stress management techniques will help you reduce stress and help you start to shed the pounds.
Stress can also affect our food choices and how much we eat. One study proved that under stress we eat almost double and we choose high sugar high carbohydrate foods because of the stressful situations we face. So stress could be a double whammy on your weight loss efforts.
Sleep and Weight Loss
How many hours do you sleep?
Leptin levels and sleep
Your leptin levels and therefore your ability to lose weight are also closely related to sleep. Lack of sleep or insomnia may play an important role in lack of weight loss and weight gain in obesity. Short sleep duration may affect how much you eat, what type of foods your crave and how well you lose weight.
Leptin builds up while you are sleeping and short sleep duration may explain why leptin levels are insufficient and we therefore overeat and make bad food choices like choosing foods high in sugars and refined carbohydrates.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
In a study presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference, researchers found:
- Women who slept five hours or less per night were 32% more likely to gain weight and had a 15% chance of becoming obese in the long term when compared with women who slept for seven to eight hours
- Women who slept 6 hours did a little better but still stood a 12% chance of gaining weight and 6% chance of becoming obese when compared with women who slept seven hours.
The study was conducted over a 16 year period and included data from over 68 000 nurses. The nurses weights were recorded every two years and the study was based on a number of surveys as well, making the study a comprehensive look at weight loss over the long term.
Here are some things you can do improve sleep:
- Learn to relax and meditate
Relaxation and meditation can help to reduce the cortisol levels in your body and this in turn will help you get a good nights sleep
- Drink Cocoa before Bed
Cocoa is an amazing drink; It is high in antioxidants and promotes a peaceful nights rest. There is science behind your Grandma's habit of giving you a cup of hot cocoa made with warm milk before bed. Just go easy on the sugar.
- Herbal Teas
There are a number of herbal teas that promote relaxation and stress reduction. Chamomile tea, liquorice root tea and kava can promote relaxation and reduce anxiety
Lavender can also be used to promote relaxation and sleep. Lavender bath oil or a sachet below your pillow can help you get a great night's rest.
Routine also plays an important role in sleep. If you have a bedtime routine and stick to it, then your body is far more likely to fall asleep quickly and to get a peaceful night's sleep.
Stress and Sleep Strategies
Effective strategies to help reverse the leptin cycle and to help you lose weight include:
- Learn stress management techniques
- Learn to relax before bed to improve sleep
- Using herbs or natural remedies to ensure a good night's rest
- Learn meditation techniques to reduce overall stress
Simple Strategies to Lose Belly Fat
Based on the above studies and research, simple strategies to help you lose weight and get rid of belly fat include learning to deal with stress and getting a good night's rest.
In terms of stress, cognitive behavioral therapy offers a way of dealing with stress in the long term by examining the thoughts and thought process that underlie anxiety and stress. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is also especially helpful in learning to deal with stress. Mindfulness essentially entails a system of examining your thoughts in an objective way to help you deal with negative thoughts. Irrespective of the approach you choose, learning stress management and reduction techniques can go a long way to helping you reverse the leptin cycles caused by stress and to begin to lose the weight
Factors that affect Fat Loss
Herbs that may help
Chamomile - to improve sleep
Cortisol (The Stress Hormone)
The Leptin Diet
Leptin and the Leptin Diet
Symptoms that may indicate you are suffering from leptin resistance or that leptin is stopping you from losing weight include:
- Battle to lose weight
- Late night cravings
- Thyroid Problems
- Sugar/Carb Cravings
- Stubborn stomach fat
If you suffer from two or more of these symptoms then you may benefit from a leptin diet.
Don't let stress or sleep stop you achieving your fat loss goals
You could be doing everything right in terms of food and exercise and still not lose weight. Don't let stress or lack of sleep stop you from achieving your weight loss goals.
There are simple strategies to help you cope with stress and help you get a good night's sleep. If you want more advice or tips, feel free to ask me anytime.
There are lots of natural remedies that can help you reduce stress and stress is not only responsible for weight gain. Stress is related to overall health and reducing stress is a great strategy for improving both long term health and well-being.