First off, insulin is one of the most anabolic/anti-catabolic hormones in the human body. Insulin binds with the muscle cell membrane that triggers an onslaught reactions that lead to growth. From an anti-catabolic standpoint insulin keeps the catabolic hormone cortisol at bay. One of cortisol functions is to breakdown proteins (muscle tissue) and convert it to energy. When insulin levels are high cortisol levels are lower. This is the primary anti-catabolic power of insulin.
Tight deadlines, bills, your kids—whatever your source of stress, having too much of it may make it harder for you to drop unwanted pounds, especially from your middle. And it's not just because you tend to reach for high-fat, high-calorie fare when you're stressed, though that's part of it. It's also due to the stress hormone cortisol, which may increase the amount of fat your body clings to and enlarge your fat cells. Higher levels of cortisol have been linked to more visceral fat.
Dairy products such as cream and cheeses. They work well in cooking as they satisfy. The problem is if you’re munching a lot of cheese in front of the TV in the evening… without being hungry. Be careful with that. Or lots of cream with dessert, when you’re actually already full and just keep eating because it tastes good. Or another common culprit: loads of heavy cream in the coffee, many times per day.
The scale is not necessarily your friend. You may want to lose fat – but the scale measures muscles, bone and internal organs as well. Gaining muscle is a good thing. Thus weight or BMI are imperfect ways to measure your progress. This is especially true if you’re just coming off a long period of semi-starvation (calorie counting), as your body may want to restore lost muscles etc. Starting weight training and gaining muscle can also hide your fat loss.
Fighting constantly with your S.O.? It’s time to address your issues head-on. "Research has shown that cortisol, the hormone that's released during stressful activity, is linked to fat storage,” says Gina Guddet, couples counselor and co-author of Love Metabolism. “And poor communication between couples is the most common type of stress that you tend to experience."
All animal proteins are also a good source of tryptophan, which is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. “If you struggle with mood or stress, it’s important to boost the production of serotonin to stabilize your mood, curb emotional eating, and keep stress-induced snacking at bay," especially when you’re trying to lose weight, says Cording. But when it comes to portions, opt for a 100 gram serving, which is about the size of a deck of cards, for reference.
When you eat carby, sugary foods and snacks, you end up with the all-too-familiar sugar spikes and energy crashes. That’s all due to insulin, which skyrockets when you eat carbs. Insulin also tells the body to store calories as fat — and most people trying to lose weight aren’t looking for extra padding in the belly or thighs. Since dietary fat has less impact on insulin levels than carbohydrates or even protein does, you don’t have to worry about sugar crashes, cravings or storing rolls of body fat.
So how does this work? A quick run-through: The first tip was to eat low carb. This is because a low-carb diet lowers your levels of the fat-storing hormone insulin, allowing your fat deposits to shrink and release their stored energy. This tends to cause you to want to consume fewer calories than you expend – without hunger – and lose weight. Several of the tips mentioned above are about fine-tuning your diet to better this effect.
Soup -- we're talking broth-based, not creamy -- has a lot going for it. It's full of water, which fills you up with the fewest possible calories. It's hot, which prevents you from eating too much. Have it before a meal, and soup can take up space that might have gone to higher-calorie foods. You can also make a satisfying, low-calorie meal out of soup alone by adding chicken, fish, cut-up vegetables, or beans.
According to a small study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, people who slept for 8.5 hours a night for two weeks lost nearly twice as much weight on average than participants who slept 5.5 hours per night, despite the fact that they followed the same diet and workout plan. That's because when you get a good night's sleep, your hunger hormones, like ghrelin and leptin, stay in check. That means you're not going to wake up with a sudden hankering for a bacon, egg, and cheese. (Start working towards your goals with Women's Health's Body Clock Diet.)
No more making excuses as to why you can’t lose weight. No app/tablet/personal chef? No problem. This study highlights the K.I.S.S. method at its best. The study authors state that “there were no gadgets or record-keeping, and the intervention was simple to understand and implement.” In other words, by simply not eating after a certain time, the participants took in fewer calories and lost weight. Remarkable.
2. Eat smaller meals more frequently: “Insulin is probably the single most important factor that contributes to fat storage,” Seedman explains. This hormone is activated when you eat and responsible for shuttling nutrients into cells, either fat or muscle. A quick biology lesson: Every time you eat a meal, your blood glucose spikes, and when this goes up, so do your insulin levels. More calories at once means a larger spike in both. When these levels are sky high, it signals to your body to put nutrients into fat cells instead of muscle, causing an accumulation of fat, Seedman explains. The same thing happens when your insulin stays elevated for a prolonged period of time, which is why it’s important to let yourself become hungry before eating again, he adds. Aim for five to six meals throughout the day.