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5 Things I wish I Knew when Starting my Weight loss Journey

5 Things I wish I Knew when Starting my Weight loss Journey

Week 4 – Sleep and Hormones Matter

"I'm doing everything correctly, yet I got on the scales yesterday and... nothing."

I have already addressed how stress matters in terms of fat loss and closely linked to that is the effect of sleep and your hormones. We have talked about the stress hormone cortisol and the effect it can have on storing body fat when you are over stressed and now let’s look at a few more that have an impact.

I have highlighted seven hormones that become imbalanced with too little sleep, too much stress and set the stage for fat gain, obesity and numerous diseases.

1. Leptin. Leptin tells your brain that you're full and regulates metabolism, so you burn more fat when your body needs to. For fat loss, you want plenty of leptin circulating, but you also want your brain to get its message. A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism concluded sleep duration influences leptin production, which in turn adversely affects other hormones like cortisol and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Researchers concluded that "sleep modulates a major component of the neuroendocrine control of appetite."

2. Ghrelin. This hormone does the opposite of leptin. Ghrelin tells your brain to eat now, and it's no coincidence the name sounds like your stomach rumbling. Increased ghrelin means you're more likely to nose dive into the glazed donuts. A study in the Journal of Sleep Research showed one night of sleep deprivation increased ghrelin levels and hunger in healthy normal-weight men, which in the long run could contribute to weight gain and obesity.

3. Adiponectin. This anti-inflammatory hormone helps predict cardiovascular risk and regulates several metabolic processes including fat oxidation (breakdown). Studies show optimal adiponectin levels can reduce your risk for insulin resistance and diabetes. A study in the journal Physiology and Behavior found reduced sleep decreases adiponectin production, increasing cardiovascular risk in Caucasian women.

4. Insulin. Elevated levels of this powerful storage hormone slam your fat-cell doors shut, storing fat rather than releasing it to burn. A study in The Journal of Applied Physiology concluded chronic sleep loss decreased insulin sensitivity, increased hunger and appetite and contributes to weight gain, insulin resistance and diabetes.

5. Glucagon. Glucagon does the opposite of insulin. This hormone releases fat from your fat cells to burn for energy. A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism looked at 10 men who only got 4.5 hours of sleep every night. Decreased sleep duration reduced circulating levels of glucagon.

6. Cortisol. This stress hormone can benefit you in the short term but, when chronically elevated, stores fat and breaks down muscle. Cortisol levels should be highest in the morning and taper throughout the day. A 1997 study in the journal Sleep was appropriately called "Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening." Researchers concluded too little sleep could increase stress as well as metabolic and cognitive problems, not to mention leaving you tossing and turning the next night.

7. Growth hormone. Your body makes this "fountain of youth" hormone during deep sleep. Among its benefits, growth hormone (GH) aids in muscle synthesis and repair, boosts energy and improves fat metabolism. Light sleepers and people who wake often during the night might not be making optimal GH -- a 1991 study in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience showed fewer hours of sleep means your body makes less GH.


So, what does all this science and hormone talk mean to you? It means get your sleep. Rest and recover.

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