Secret #5: Energy, Stress and Weight Loss
Carrying extra weight and eating more than necessary is a tedious affair. If you are carrying an excess of body weight, your heart must work harder to circulate blood to your larger body. Your lungs must breathe in larger amounts of air to bring oxygen to the bloodstream, your liver and kidneys must filter out more toxins from the body, your stomach and intestines must work overtime digesting larger amounts of food. Your pancreas must produce greater amounts of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels (a dangerous situation that can lead to diabetes) and your skeletal system, joints, and connective tissue must take on the added stress of moving a body that is heavy. The list goes on and on.
Still, the facts remain: all of the secrets for weight loss that have been shared up to this point go hand-in-hand. In eating better, sleeping better, improving digestion through diet, (and yes, exercising) your body will inevitably run more efficiently and you will lose weight. You will also have more energy for your nutrition and exercise regimen, building momentum that will lead to even greater health and more energy. As long as you put these secrets to weight loss into practice, you will see the results.
The Energy Boost Effect
Lowering your body weight means you’ll spend less energy moving and performing day-to-day activities. When you use less energy, more is available for other activities throughout the day, including exercise, which further helps increase energy.
Changing your diet to a healthier one is another significant factor in boosting energy. Decreasing caloric intake, eating smaller and more frequent meals and eating more fruits, vegetables, and other high-fiber foods will help your body produce insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. Increased insulin will balance blood sugar spikes and dips that typically cause fatigue and general a lack of energy.
Stress and Weight Loss
When you finally start reducing the stress of extra body weight, you’ll also notice a parallel effect: relief from mental stress. Weight and stress both take a tremendous amount of energy out of us, sucking every last ounce of our reserves and making life much more challenging than it needs to be. The good news is that weight loss can lead to more balanced brain function which in turn can make it easier to deal with stresses in our daily lives.
A Biochemical Balancing Act
Much of our mood is regulated by biochemical compound foods in two systems of the body: A) the central nervous system (CNS), the network that includes our nerves, spinal cord, brain, and compounds called neurotransmitters that send chemical signals, and B) the endocrine system, which controls hormonal release, stimulating various body functions. The body calls these systems into play whenever we feel the need for protection in times of stress (triggering the famous “fight or flight” response).
Two of the most important neurotransmitters used by the CNS are serotonin and dopamine. These two neurotransmitters are natural mood-elevators. As is often the case in stressful situations, people indulge themselves through food. Indulgent eating has been shown to promote the release of serotonin in the brain, creating the feeling of pleasure or calmness. It’s no wonder why people participate in emotional eating. Exercise and weight loss, however, will do the same by increasing serotonin and dopamine levels while decreasing weight.
While the CNS adjusts these neurotransmitters, the endocrine system handles the release of cortisol and insulin. Cortisol is the body’s hormone involved in stress response; it triggers the body’s release of blood sugar when you potentially need energy for that “fight” or “flight”. Insulin, in turn, acts as a moderator, slowing the release of sugar into the blood. In a healthy individual, the two balance each other out.
Many of us don’t find ourselves, in life-or-death situations like our ancient ancestors did when they were constantly fighting for survival. However, we do live in times of consistently high stress and elevated cortisol levels, triggering the internal release of blood sugar and sugar cravings. On top of that, fat cells in the abdomen are sensitive to cortisol and are likely to store energy; for this reason, we tend to store fat around the middle. Remove the physical exertion component and it is obvious how an increase in blood sugar and constant craving for unhealthy food can lead to the bellies our forefathers didn’t have.
Energy and Stress Recommendations
- Be a more effective time manager: planning when to eat, sleep and exercise will reduce stress and fatigue and lessen cravings that are only quick fixes.
- Take doctor recommended support supplements.
- Get 7 to 8 hours of solid sleep each night and exercise 20 to 60 minutes, 4 to 5 times each week to regulate serotinin, dopamine and cortisol levels.
More Secrets for Successful Weight Loss
Secret #1: Knowing your food (Carbohydrates, proteins and fats)
Secret #2: Understanding the emotional triggers that lead us to eat the way we do
Secret #3: Recognizing your eating behaviors and habits
Secret #4: The impact of sleep and weight loss
Secret #5: The effect of energy levels and stress drive weight loss
Secret #6: Appreciating how digestion impacts weight loss
Secret #7: Making healthy portion size decisions
Secret #8: How to eat out and still lose weight
Secret #9: Learn how to work out anytime and anywhere