Weight Loss and Hormones
You know the old saying: "Life is a lot easier if you don't fight your
hormones". It's like swimming upstream if you don't
cooperate these powerful chemical messengers. This is nowhere better shown
than in the weight loss and dieting arenas. We have already covered how
many people fail at dieting because they ignore
How Neurotransmitters are
Involved in Weight Loss. The same holds true for hormones as well.
As with almost everything else health-related, it is much, much more easy if you
are willing to learn a little of the science involved. You don't need a
Ph. D. - you just need to take the time to hearn a few basic facts.
Of course, if you exercise hard enough and have steely discipline, you will lose
weight no matter what you do. But with our busy and stressful lives, who
can exercise for hours or be masochistically ascetic about anything?
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A more realistic route to weight loss is through moderate excercise and moderate
reduction in calories coupled with some basic hormonal knowledge that will make
your life much easier. Here's a few tips about your hormones that will
make it much easier for you win the battle of the bulge:
1) Gherlin. One of the most important appetite-controllers is
gherlin. Lack of sleep will significantly increase your gherlin levels and
increase your appetite, particularly for fatty foods. Have you ever
noticed that when you are tired you want to eat and eat in order to "comfort"
yourself? Well, you're just obeying your own hormones. So here is
the key: get enough sleep.
2) Leptin. Another appetite-related hormone is leptin. Leptin
is significantly decreased by lack of sleep, a fact that will send you in your
weakened state repeatedly to the refrigerator and snack machine. Again,
sleep is critical. By the way, researchers have also found that sugar and
corn syrup also whack leptin, so keep the sugars lean and low. CAUTION:
Researchers have found that mild stress resulting from an "enriched social,
physical and mental environment" ends up decreasing leptin levels, which of
course could increase appetite. 
However, this same study found that leptin also causes cancer to thrive and grow and was linked to
increased risk of colon and skin cancer.
3) Cortisol. Lack of sleep can also increase cortisol, which will fight any
fat loss you are attempting every step of the way. "Work smarter, not
harder" mean controlling this dietary bad boy. Highcortisol causes you to
crave both high fat and high sugar foods. One way cortisol does this is by
stimulating release of galanin, a neurotransmitter that triggers for fat in
particular. Even worse, you midsection has a very hgih level of cortisol
receptors, which means that stress will actually cause you to deposit more fat
right around your stomach. One might call cortisol the Spare Tire
Of course, it's not just lack of sleep that can increase cortisol. As we
cover in our page on Stress, many other factors such as depression or a nasty
boss will do the same thing. Again, see my link on
Stress for some
practical ways to lower cortisol.
I hope you noticed that all three of the above hormones are ALL affected by lack
of sleep. The bottom line is that will be very difficult for you to lose
weight, unless you are a highly disciplined person, unless you are getting
Remember: hormones are your friends. Don't fight your friends...