Anyone hoping to drop a few pounds on a diet plan will no doubt be focused on what to eat and how to exercise. However, it’s not always as simple as just choosing what to put on your plate – because your hormones could be working against you. There are plenty of factors that affect your food choices, and it may be that your own body is causing your cravings.
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While self control is a key element of any weight loss diet plan, it doesn’t help that sometimes your body can have a mind of its own.
This is all down to your hormones – and there’s a chance that some of your other daily habits are affecting the ones which will have an impact on your weight.
Nutritionist Libby Limon explained: “While calories in and calories out no doubt are the major factor in weight loss, there are other factors that play an important role.
“Hormonal pathways can have a significant impact especially when it comes to either preventing or shifting belly fat.”
Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers, and all sorts of things can affect them, from light to caffeine, food, exercise and medication.
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However, one of the biggest factors is sleep – something that is crucial if you want to lose weight, especially around your middle.
If you’ve found yourself putting on weight during the lockdown and put it down to your snacking habits, you may not realise that it’s more about your nighttime habits.
It’s a no-brainer that stress affects your sleep, but the knock-on effect of a bad night’s kip could be causing you to put on weight.
“Sleep is another important factor in terms of weight loss,” explained Libby. “Research shows that those wanting to lose weight will lose less on the same diet if sleep is reduced.”
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The reason is all down to how your sleep cycle is affecting your hormones – which then dictate what kinds of food you reach for when you head to the kitchen.
“This is likely down to our bodies becoming less sensitive to the blood sugar hormone, insulin, when we don’t sleep enough,” noted Libby.
Insulin helps control blood glucose levels in the body, signaling for cells take in glucose to be used for energy; however, if this is out of kilter, you may find yourself craving sweet treats.
However, Libby explained that it’s also down to three other hormones which are strongly affected by your sleep schedule.
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“Cortisol is affected by sleep patterns; high cortisol is associated with poor sleep and insomnia,” commented Libby.
“Lastly is ghrelin, your hunger hormone, that drives your appetite, and leptin, your satiation hormone.
“Lack of sleep increases ghrelin and reduces leptin, driving hunger and cravings, so in most cases driving our desire for snacking and increased calorie intake, especially of unhealthy fats and sugars,” Libby revealed.
So the more disrupted your sleep, the more your body works against you when you’re trying to lose weight – and it could even result in you putting on weight as you eat more unhealthy foods; not to mention if you’re tired, you’re far less likely to want to hop on the treadmill or do a workout.
However, there’s plenty you can do to reset your sleep if you’re struggling to nod off; and if it’s more serious and drifting into insomnia, it’s worth talking to your doctor to see what they can do.
But for those who are having too many late nights or are perhaps tossing and turning due to the stress of the last few months, there are easy fixes that can help. Libby’s ultimate trick for combating poor sleep and weight loss issues? Top up on magnesium and drink more chamomile tea.
“Magnesium is commonly insufficient in our diets – the majority of people even with a healthy diet don’t get enough,” stressed Libby.
“Magnesium is a key nutrient in terms of stress and sleep. I recommend that all my clients take it as a supplement; it helps relax the body and the mind, increasing quality sleep.”
The nutritionist also swears by swapping your nightcap for something herbal.
“Chamomile flowers brewed into a tea will help your body and mind stay calm, and will help you feel less stressed, allowing you to sleep with far more ease. Try drinking Pukka Herbs Three Chamomile tea in the evenings,” Libby advised.
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