Stress causes cortisol, a hormone critical to maintaining biochemical balance in the body, to rise. This, in turn, causes weight gain, especially around the abdomen and waistline. This type of fat is known as "toxic fat" because of its correlation to cardiovascular disease. Cortisol influences insulin levels and helps regulate blood sugar. The more stressed out you are, the higher the cortisol rises. When cortisol levels are higher than normal, appetite may increase. Higher cortisol also causes more calories to be stored as fat. Keeping stress to a minimum or at least learning to manage it healthfully may be the ticket to achieving and maintaining your ideal weight.
Lack of sleep can impede weight loss. Studies show that people who sleep seven or more hours per night are leaner than those who sleep lesss. Why? Cortisol levels begin to rise after 10:30 or 11:30 p.m. if we are still awake; therefore, the ideal bedtime is 10:00 p.m. or earlier. Remember, cortisol is typically lower in the evening. That second wind many night owls attest to feeling is directly correlated to elevated cortisol levels. What happens then? Many midnight visits to the pantry or fridge may be caused by an increase in appetite. Plus, when cortisol levels are higher than normal, more calories will be stored as fat. Going to bed early and getting at least seven hours of sleep or more per night seems to be key in keeping weight in check.
Consider this: You and your best friend, who is about the same size and age as you, go to the gym and hop on the treadmill. She prefers to run for 30 seconds to a minute then walk for a few minutes. She is finished with her workout in 15 to 20 minutes. You, on the other hand, stay on the treadmill for almost an hour. Yet she is losing weight faster than you are. Why? Interval training, that's why. In one study at the University of New South Wales, women who alternated sprinting for eight seconds then resting for 12 seconds as compared to a group who walked for 40 minutes without rest showed that those who practiced interval training lost six times as much weight than the exercise walkers. How you exercise can make a huge difference in your weight.
Why are the Japanese so trim and healthy? It may be their consumption of green tea as a primary beverage. Statistically, Japanese people who drink green tea are thinner than those who do not. Green tea drinkers experience less absorption of triglycerides and cholesterol and more excretion of body fat. Some studies show a decrease in total blood fats including LDLs, the bad cholesterol, by drinking eight cups of green tea per day. And it's not the caffeine -- the decaf variety appears to have similar results. Not inclined to drink all that tea? Check out green tea supplements as an alternative.
According to Cornell University researchers, the size of your dishes and eating utensils might influence how much you eat and how much you weigh. Their study was based upon a simple idea that people would take, and consume, more foods when provided with larger serving utensils and dishes than when they were given smaller ones. Dr. Brian Wansink invited 85 nutrition experts to an ice cream social. Some were given smaller bowls and utensils while others were given larger versions. Come to find out, in spite of their extensive knowledge of healthful eating habits, those who had bigger bowls and spoons consumed at least 30 percent more calories than the smaller bowls and spoons group. Size does matter. Try eating off smaller plates, and you may very well eat less.
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