Have you tried every diet under the sun and still can’t lose weight? Or maybe you have found yourself with a few too many extra kilos even though you eat healthily and stay active. Many factors cannot only slow down or stall weight loss but also increase weight gain. Below is an outline of two of the most common issues I see in the clinic that impact healthy weight.
STRESS – It is a modern-day health epidemic and plays a significant role in weight gain and with issues losing weight. When we experience chronic stress, whether that be from work, finances, relationships and even raising children, our body starts to produce too much of the stress hormone cortisol. While small amounts of cortisol at the right time are important for our health, too much, too often leads to blood sugar imbalances, increased insulin (a fat storing hormone) and uncontrollable food cravings. If you find yourself gaining weight particularly around your mid-section and crave sugary foods, cortisol may be the culprit.
Some simple tips for helping to reduce stress and cortisol include:
Walking: Even 20 minutes a couple of times a week will help reduce stress, improve mood and balance cortisol levels.
Eat regular protein: A small amount of protein every couple of hours will help balance stress hormones and blood sugar. A small serve only needs to be ten nuts, a piece of cheese or a tub of natural yoghurt.
POOR SLEEP – This is something I see in the clinic on a daily basis. Ensuring we have deep restorative sleep is not only essential for good health, but it also plays a significant role in weight gain and issues losing weight. Poor sleep quality can imbalance several hormones including leptin and ghrelin.
Leptin is a hormone that is responsible for making us feel full, reducing our appetite and increasing the amount of energy we burn when we are resting, poor sleep can reduce leptin. Ghrelin is a hormone that is responsible for feelings of hunger; poor sleep increases ghrelin this leads to an increased or insatiable appetite, so you may notice after a particularly bad nights sleep you want extra comfort food or find it harder to feel satisfied after a meal. Poor sleep will also increase cortisol, as discussed above, will increase fat storing hormones and imbalance blood sugar leading to more sugar and carb cravings and creating a vicious cycle.
Some simple tips for improving sleep:
Cut out blue light: Blue light stops the production of melatonin our sleep hormone, we need a nice dose of melatonin in the evening to help us fall and stay asleep. Avoiding blue lights by putting a red filter on your phone (most have them inbuilt now) turning off LED lights in the evening and using candles or a Himalayan salt lamp will help. You can even buy special glasses that filter out blue light to use while watching TV (which emits blue light) or your laptop.
Morning sunlight exposure: Getting a quick few minutes of sunlight first thing in the morning helps regulate our sleep hormone melatonin. Try standing under the sun with your eyes closed for a couple of minutes. I find this simple trick does wonders for my clients.
Starting simple and adding in small, simple practices like those outlined above are a great start in helping you not only to lose weight but also to help enhance your general wellbeing.
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Michaela Sparrow is a passionate, degree qualified naturopath, clinical nutritionist and certified anti-ageing practitioner. She is the founder of The Longevity Remedy an integrative, holistic and evidence based naturopathic clinic in the heart of Newcastle. She provides a caring, supportive and motivating environment to help her clients achieve their health goals.