Less stress and more sleep may help you lose weight

If you or someone you love is overweight or obese, here’s some good news on a couple of other ways (other than better nutrition and exercise) you could consider to lose weight. The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” reported, “Getting a healthy amount of sleep, avoiding stress, and complying with specific elements of a weight-loss plan (such as keeping a food diary) seem to boost the odds of” losing weight.”

The study, conducted by Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., involved nearly 500 adults who had an average body mass index (BMI) of 37.7.” (a BMI of 30 or above is obese)

The Time “Healthland” blog reported, “Participants who reported sleeping less than six hours, or more than eight hours, per night at the start of the study were less likely to meet the 10-lb. weight loss goal, compared with people who slept six to eight hours.”

What’s more, “stress compounded that association: people who slept too little or too much and reported high levels of stress were only half as likely to make it to the second phase of the study as people who got six to eight hours of sleep and had low stress.”

According to a report from HealthDay, “We found that people who got more than six but less than eight hours of sleep, and who reported the lowest levels of stress, had the most success in a weight-loss program,” said study author Dr. Charles Elder.

Elder speculates if you are sleeping less or more than recommended and if your stress levels are high, you will not be able to focus on making behavioral changes.

These factors may also have a biological impact, he added.

“If you want to lose weight, things that will help you include reducing stress and getting the right amount of sleep,” Elder said.

The report, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Declines in stress and depression were important in continuing to lose weight during both phases of the trial, as were exercise minutes and keeping food diaries, Elder’s group found.

Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said that “while we often tend to look at health one condition at a time, the reality is that health is best viewed holistically.”

“People who are healthy and vital tend to be healthy and vital not because of any one factor, but because of many. And the factors that promote health — eating well, being active, not smoking, sleeping enough, controlling stress, to name a few –promote all aspects of health,” he added.

This study shows that people are more likely to lose weight when not impeded by sleep deprivation, stress or depression, he said.

“Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight probably could have said much the same from personal experience. Similarly, weight loss reduced stress and depression. This, too, is suggested by sense and common experience, as it is affirmed by the science reported here,” Katz said.

The important message is that weight loss should not be looked at with tunnel vision, Katz said.

“Improving sleep may be as important to lasting weight control efforts as modifying diet or exercise. Managing stress is about physical health, as well as mental health. This study encourages weight loss in a more holistic context,” he said.

Another study presented earlier this month at the American Heart Association scientific sessions held in Atlanta found that people of normal weight eat more when they sleep less.

Columbia University researchers discovered that sleep-deprived adults ate almost 300 calories more a day on average than those who got enough sleep. And the extra calories mostly came from saturated fat, which can spell trouble for waistlines.

The researchers came to their conclusions — which should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal — after following 13 men and 13 women of normal weight. They monitored the eating habits of the participants as they spent six days sleeping four hours a night and then six days sleeping nine hours a night (or the reverse).

“If sustained, the dietary choices made by people undergoing short sleep could predispose them to obesity and increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” the researchers wrote in an American Heart Association news release.

 

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