How Sleep Can Help You Lose Stubborn Belly Fat
By Ritamarie Loscalzo
Ever wonder why you can’t diet or exercise your weight down to where you’d like it? Or, have you ever thought about why you have a spare tire around your midline, even though the scale says you’re not overweight?
Resistant weight loss and belly fat are intimately related to your hormones, and your hormone balance can be severely disrupted by chronic sleep disruption.
Did you know that your sleep habits are just as important as what you put on your fork when it comes to releasing weight? (especially the extra padding around your middle!) Research shows that shift workers are, on average, heavier than those who work day jobs! And it has to do with disruption to the hormone dance that happens while you sleep.
The hormones affected by sleep control your appetite, the growth of lean muscle and your fat, and carbohydrate metabolism.
How Insufficient Sleep Affects Your Weight:
- Decreased serotonin and dopamine production, which leads to cravings for sugary foods to bring the levels back up.
- Increased ghrelin (a hormone that makes you feel hungry even if your body has enough food) and decreased leptin (makes you feel full and satisfied after eating) – the result means sugar cravings and continued hunger even after you’ve eaten a full meal.
- Decreased growth hormone, leading to decreased ability to burn fat and lay down lean muscle.
- Increased cortisol, “the stress hormone” which triggers the breakdown of muscle stores, increased blood sugar, and increased insulin. This leads to the deposition of fat, mainly around your waist.
Sleep Your Way Slim
It’s not just important for your appearance that you get a good night’s sleep. These same hormone imbalances can have long term, dangerous consequences on your heart, increase inflammation and pain put you at a higher risk for cancer.
All the sleep research has me really taking a look at my own choices. I push the envelope with sleep because I feel fine even when I don’t sleep. But that’s on the outside. I know enough to realize that what’s going on inside as a result of my lack of sleep could come back and bite me in the you-know-what. Indeed, I have noticed that I’ve been extra hungry during the day these past few sleep-deprived weeks.
It’s All About Balance.
Balance is the key. It’s not enough to just drink green smoothies or just exercise daily or just get lots of sleep. The balance among stress, sleep, exercise and diet are key.
And on top of that, Timing is EVERYTHING.
You can do all the right things, but if it’s out of sync with your bio-rhythms, your belly will stay flabby — no matter how many sit-ups you do or green drinks you drink.
If you’re feeling flabby and frustrated, my advice to to prioritize sleep.
What’s better than a good night’s sleep? A nice, balanced breakfast that won’t set your hormones on a roller coaster ride and make your appetite go out of control. Check out some hormone-balancing breakfast menu ideas, here:
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Medical Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, drritamarie.com, and the experts who have contributed. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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