Inflammatory Cytokines: The Angry Fat Messenger

Most people have been getting dietary advice all wrong. Eat less, move more works only for some people for a period of time, but it is not solid long-term dietary advice. Low carbohydrate diets again and again show greater weight loss, increase in HDL, reduction in blood pressure, resolving diabetes and metabolic syndrome and also reduce risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer in numerous studies. So why do we still give the wrong information? In the next few articles, we will look at how the body becomes fat and the best performing dietary change for weight loss: a low carb/high fat diet.

Cytokines, along with adipokines, are two hormone-like messengers made by fat cells. These messengers are released by cells and affect the behavior of other cells. Cytokines are proteins released by cells that have a specific effect on the interactions and communications between cells. There are two types of cytokines: pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory.

Inflammatory cytokines are the result of too much fat in the body. These inflammatory cytokines further increase fat storage and disease risk in the body. Here’s a look at how inflammation and obesity are related.

Inflammation has been shown to precede the development of obesity. Infusion of inflammatory cytokines into healthy, normal weight mice caused insulin resistance, the primary promoter of fat production and storage. Research shows that elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines predict future weight gain.

Inflammation begins in the fat cells. More and more fat cells increase oxidative stress (rusting in the body) and fat cells are the first cells affected by increased inflammation, the beginning of a vicious cycle.

Inflammation of the fat tissue causes insulin resistance. TNF-a and C-reactive proteins (both cytokines released during the inflammatory response) have been shown to cause insulin resistance.

Inflammation of the brain control center the hypothalamus causes leptin resistance, which accompanies insulin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that signals to the brain that you are full. When the hypothalamus becomes resistant to leptin, glucose and fat metabolism are impaired, resulting in weight gain and insulin resistance.

Inflammation in the gut also causes leptin and insulin resistance. Gut inflammation may occur through an increase of out of balance bacteria from eating a standard American diet and the metabolic by product of the bacteria, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), an endotoxin that can cause inflammation, insulin resistance in the liver, and weight gain.

In our next article, we’ll take a look at how eating a low-carb diet can control these hormones that are making us fat.

Betty Murray, CN, IFMCP, CHC is a Certified Nutritionist & Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner with the Institute for Functional Medicine, founder of the Dallas-based functional medicine clinic Living Well Dallas and Executive Director of the the Functional Medicine Association of North Texas. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutrition for autoimmune diseases, digestive disorders, MTHFR and weight loss.  You can find her book “Cleanse: Detox Your Body, Mind & Spirit” on Amazon here.

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The post Inflammatory Cytokines: The Angry Fat Messenger appeared first on Betty Murray.

Your Life in Balance


By Betty Murray

The types and amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you take in on a daily basis matter. But ultimately, what matters when it comes to weight loss and weight management is calories. Balancing how many calories you take in with the number of calories your body burns is the secret to losing weight and keeping it off.

What’s your caloric balance? If you are maintaining your current weight, you are consuming about the same amount of calories your body is using. If you are gaining weight, you’re in caloric excess, which means you’re consuming more calories than your body is burning. If you are losing weight, it means you’re in caloric deficit, and eating fewer calories than your body is using.

When the body is in caloric deficit, it begins to pull stored fat from cells in the body to use as energy, thus reducing the amount of fat in your body and decreasing your weight.

How many calories should I consume?

Keep in mind that one bound of body fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories. Start by keeping a food journal and writing down all the foods and drinks you consume each day. This will help you have a better understanding of how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis. Also keep track of your daily physical activity and the length of time you do it.

Not sure how many calories you’re eating or how many you’re losing through exercise? MyFitnessPal is a great free resource to track your food and exercise to find out if you are in caloric balance. MyFitnessPal will also show you the nutrients that are in your food, so you can easily see if you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, protein, etc.

A Fitbit is another tool you can use to help you stay motivated by tracking your physical activity. Fitbit will sync with MyFitness Pal to give you an accurate picture of your daily calories in/calories out.

How much exercise do I need?

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes (30 minutes, five days a week) of moderate intensity exercise per week for the average adult. This recommendation is based on keeping the heart healthy and strong. If you want to lose weight, you may need to increase the amount and intensity of your exercise.

Remember, some exercise is better than no exercise. You do not have to get in a full 30 minutes of exercise at one time. If your schedule does not allow you to spend that much time exercising at once, break it down into smaller segments throughout the day. Ten minutes here or there will make a big difference.

By using tools like Fitbit and MyFitness Pal, you can easily keep track of the calories you consume and the calories you burn on a daily basis, giving you the information and the motivation you need to meet your weight loss goals.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

 

 

Your Life in Balance


By Betty Murray

The types and amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you take in on a daily basis matter. But ultimately, what matters when it comes to weight loss and weight management is calories. Balancing how many calories you take in with the number of calories your body burns is the secret to losing weight and keeping it off.

What’s your caloric balance? If you are maintaining your current weight, you are consuming about the same amount of calories your body is using. If you are gaining weight, you’re in caloric excess, which means you’re consuming more calories than your body is burning. If you are losing weight, it means you’re in caloric deficit, and eating fewer calories than your body is using.

When the body is in caloric deficit, it begins to pull stored fat from cells in the body to use as energy, thus reducing the amount of fat in your body and decreasing your weight.

How many calories should I consume?

Keep in mind that one bound of body fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories. Start by keeping a food journal and writing down all the foods and drinks you consume each day. This will help you have a better understanding of how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis. Also keep track of your daily physical activity and the length of time you do it.

Not sure how many calories you’re eating or how many you’re losing through exercise? MyFitnessPal is a great free resource to track your food and exercise to find out if you are in caloric balance. MyFitnessPal will also show you the nutrients that are in your food, so you can easily see if you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, protein, etc.

A Fitbit is another tool you can use to help you stay motivated by tracking your physical activity. Fitbit will sync with MyFitness Pal to give you an accurate picture of your daily calories in/calories out.

How much exercise do I need?

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes (30 minutes, five days a week) of moderate intensity exercise per week for the average adult. This recommendation is based on keeping the heart healthy and strong. If you want to lose weight, you may need to increase the amount and intensity of your exercise.

Remember, some exercise is better than no exercise. You do not have to get in a full 30 minutes of exercise at one time. If your schedule does not allow you to spend that much time exercising at once, break it down into smaller segments throughout the day. Ten minutes here or there will make a big difference.

By using tools like Fitbit and MyFitness Pal, you can easily keep track of the calories you consume and the calories you burn on a daily basis, giving you the information and the motivation you need to meet your weight loss goals.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

 

 

Your Life in Balance


By Betty Murray

The types and amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you take in on a daily basis matter. But ultimately, what matters when it comes to weight loss and weight management is calories. Balancing how many calories you take in with the number of calories your body burns is the secret to losing weight and keeping it off.

What’s your caloric balance? If you are maintaining your current weight, you are consuming about the same amount of calories your body is using. If you are gaining weight, you’re in caloric excess, which means you’re consuming more calories than your body is burning. If you are losing weight, it means you’re in caloric deficit, and eating fewer calories than your body is using.

When the body is in caloric deficit, it begins to pull stored fat from cells in the body to use as energy, thus reducing the amount of fat in your body and decreasing your weight.

How many calories should I consume?

Keep in mind that one bound of body fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories. Start by keeping a food journal and writing down all the foods and drinks you consume each day. This will help you have a better understanding of how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis. Also keep track of your daily physical activity and the length of time you do it.

Not sure how many calories you’re eating or how many you’re losing through exercise? MyFitnessPal is a great free resource to track your food and exercise to find out if you are in caloric balance. MyFitnessPal will also show you the nutrients that are in your food, so you can easily see if you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, protein, etc.

A Fitbit is another tool you can use to help you stay motivated by tracking your physical activity. Fitbit will sync with MyFitness Pal to give you an accurate picture of your daily calories in/calories out.

How much exercise do I need?

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes (30 minutes, five days a week) of moderate intensity exercise per week for the average adult. This recommendation is based on keeping the heart healthy and strong. If you want to lose weight, you may need to increase the amount and intensity of your exercise.

Remember, some exercise is better than no exercise. You do not have to get in a full 30 minutes of exercise at one time. If your schedule does not allow you to spend that much time exercising at once, break it down into smaller segments throughout the day. Ten minutes here or there will make a big difference.

By using tools like Fitbit and MyFitness Pal, you can easily keep track of the calories you consume and the calories you burn on a daily basis, giving you the information and the motivation you need to meet your weight loss goals.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

 

 

Your Life in Balance


By Betty Murray

The types and amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you take in on a daily basis matter. But ultimately, what matters when it comes to weight loss and weight management is calories. Balancing how many calories you take in with the number of calories your body burns is the secret to losing weight and keeping it off.

What’s your caloric balance? If you are maintaining your current weight, you are consuming about the same amount of calories your body is using. If you are gaining weight, you’re in caloric excess, which means you’re consuming more calories than your body is burning. If you are losing weight, it means you’re in caloric deficit, and eating fewer calories than your body is using.

When the body is in caloric deficit, it begins to pull stored fat from cells in the body to use as energy, thus reducing the amount of fat in your body and decreasing your weight.

How many calories should I consume?

Keep in mind that one bound of body fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories. Start by keeping a food journal and writing down all the foods and drinks you consume each day. This will help you have a better understanding of how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis. Also keep track of your daily physical activity and the length of time you do it.

Not sure how many calories you’re eating or how many you’re losing through exercise? MyFitnessPal is a great free resource to track your food and exercise to find out if you are in caloric balance. MyFitnessPal will also show you the nutrients that are in your food, so you can easily see if you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, protein, etc.

A Fitbit is another tool you can use to help you stay motivated by tracking your physical activity. Fitbit will sync with MyFitness Pal to give you an accurate picture of your daily calories in/calories out.

How much exercise do I need?

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes (30 minutes, five days a week) of moderate intensity exercise per week for the average adult. This recommendation is based on keeping the heart healthy and strong. If you want to lose weight, you may need to increase the amount and intensity of your exercise.

Remember, some exercise is better than no exercise. You do not have to get in a full 30 minutes of exercise at one time. If your schedule does not allow you to spend that much time exercising at once, break it down into smaller segments throughout the day. Ten minutes here or there will make a big difference.

By using tools like Fitbit and MyFitness Pal, you can easily keep track of the calories you consume and the calories you burn on a daily basis, giving you the information and the motivation you need to meet your weight loss goals.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

 

 

Your Life in Balance


By Betty Murray

The types and amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you take in on a daily basis matter. But ultimately, what matters when it comes to weight loss and weight management is calories. Balancing how many calories you take in with the number of calories your body burns is the secret to losing weight and keeping it off.

What’s your caloric balance? If you are maintaining your current weight, you are consuming about the same amount of calories your body is using. If you are gaining weight, you’re in caloric excess, which means you’re consuming more calories than your body is burning. If you are losing weight, it means you’re in caloric deficit, and eating fewer calories than your body is using.

When the body is in caloric deficit, it begins to pull stored fat from cells in the body to use as energy, thus reducing the amount of fat in your body and decreasing your weight.

How many calories should I consume?

Keep in mind that one bound of body fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories. Start by keeping a food journal and writing down all the foods and drinks you consume each day. This will help you have a better understanding of how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis. Also keep track of your daily physical activity and the length of time you do it.

Not sure how many calories you’re eating or how many you’re losing through exercise? MyFitnessPal is a great free resource to track your food and exercise to find out if you are in caloric balance. MyFitnessPal will also show you the nutrients that are in your food, so you can easily see if you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, protein, etc.

A Fitbit is another tool you can use to help you stay motivated by tracking your physical activity. Fitbit will sync with MyFitness Pal to give you an accurate picture of your daily calories in/calories out.

How much exercise do I need?

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes (30 minutes, five days a week) of moderate intensity exercise per week for the average adult. This recommendation is based on keeping the heart healthy and strong. If you want to lose weight, you may need to increase the amount and intensity of your exercise.

Remember, some exercise is better than no exercise. You do not have to get in a full 30 minutes of exercise at one time. If your schedule does not allow you to spend that much time exercising at once, break it down into smaller segments throughout the day. Ten minutes here or there will make a big difference.

By using tools like Fitbit and MyFitness Pal, you can easily keep track of the calories you consume and the calories you burn on a daily basis, giving you the information and the motivation you need to meet your weight loss goals.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

 

 

Your Life in Balance


By Betty Murray

The types and amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you take in on a daily basis matter. But ultimately, what matters when it comes to weight loss and weight management is calories. Balancing how many calories you take in with the number of calories your body burns is the secret to losing weight and keeping it off.

What’s your caloric balance? If you are maintaining your current weight, you are consuming about the same amount of calories your body is using. If you are gaining weight, you’re in caloric excess, which means you’re consuming more calories than your body is burning. If you are losing weight, it means you’re in caloric deficit, and eating fewer calories than your body is using.

When the body is in caloric deficit, it begins to pull stored fat from cells in the body to use as energy, thus reducing the amount of fat in your body and decreasing your weight.

How many calories should I consume?

Keep in mind that one bound of body fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories. Start by keeping a food journal and writing down all the foods and drinks you consume each day. This will help you have a better understanding of how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis. Also keep track of your daily physical activity and the length of time you do it.

Not sure how many calories you’re eating or how many you’re losing through exercise? MyFitnessPal is a great free resource to track your food and exercise to find out if you are in caloric balance. MyFitnessPal will also show you the nutrients that are in your food, so you can easily see if you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, protein, etc.

A Fitbit is another tool you can use to help you stay motivated by tracking your physical activity. Fitbit will sync with MyFitness Pal to give you an accurate picture of your daily calories in/calories out.

How much exercise do I need?

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes (30 minutes, five days a week) of moderate intensity exercise per week for the average adult. This recommendation is based on keeping the heart healthy and strong. If you want to lose weight, you may need to increase the amount and intensity of your exercise.

Remember, some exercise is better than no exercise. You do not have to get in a full 30 minutes of exercise at one time. If your schedule does not allow you to spend that much time exercising at once, break it down into smaller segments throughout the day. Ten minutes here or there will make a big difference.

By using tools like Fitbit and MyFitness Pal, you can easily keep track of the calories you consume and the calories you burn on a daily basis, giving you the information and the motivation you need to meet your weight loss goals.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

 

 

Your Life in Balance


By Betty Murray

The types and amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you take in on a daily basis matter. But ultimately, what matters when it comes to weight loss and weight management is calories. Balancing how many calories you take in with the number of calories your body burns is the secret to losing weight and keeping it off.

What’s your caloric balance? If you are maintaining your current weight, you are consuming about the same amount of calories your body is using. If you are gaining weight, you’re in caloric excess, which means you’re consuming more calories than your body is burning. If you are losing weight, it means you’re in caloric deficit, and eating fewer calories than your body is using.

When the body is in caloric deficit, it begins to pull stored fat from cells in the body to use as energy, thus reducing the amount of fat in your body and decreasing your weight.

How many calories should I consume?

Keep in mind that one bound of body fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories. Start by keeping a food journal and writing down all the foods and drinks you consume each day. This will help you have a better understanding of how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis. Also keep track of your daily physical activity and the length of time you do it.

Not sure how many calories you’re eating or how many you’re losing through exercise? MyFitnessPal is a great free resource to track your food and exercise to find out if you are in caloric balance. MyFitnessPal will also show you the nutrients that are in your food, so you can easily see if you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, protein, etc.

A Fitbit is another tool you can use to help you stay motivated by tracking your physical activity. Fitbit will sync with MyFitness Pal to give you an accurate picture of your daily calories in/calories out.

How much exercise do I need?

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes (30 minutes, five days a week) of moderate intensity exercise per week for the average adult. This recommendation is based on keeping the heart healthy and strong. If you want to lose weight, you may need to increase the amount and intensity of your exercise.

Remember, some exercise is better than no exercise. You do not have to get in a full 30 minutes of exercise at one time. If your schedule does not allow you to spend that much time exercising at once, break it down into smaller segments throughout the day. Ten minutes here or there will make a big difference.

By using tools like Fitbit and MyFitness Pal, you can easily keep track of the calories you consume and the calories you burn on a daily basis, giving you the information and the motivation you need to meet your weight loss goals.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

 

 

Get Your Zzzzz’s Please: Tips for Getting the Right Amount of Sleep

By Betty Murray

If losing weight is on your list of goals for 2015, a healthy diet and regular exercise can help you reach your ideal weight, but here’s another suggestion: get enough sleep.

Eating healthy and exercising will only go so far in helping you drop those extra pounds. Good sleep is the third component of weight loss, but it’s one piece of a healthy life that is easily forgotten.

What is the right amount of sleep?

Poor sleep habits can lead to weight gain and make it more difficult to lose weight. Researchers have found that adults under 40 experience significant gain in belly fat when they log fewer than five hours of sleep each night. Getting too much sleep can also increase weight. The same study shows that those who slept more than eight hours of sleep also saw higher weight gain than those who slept six to seven hours each night. The right amount of sleep for adults should fall between six and eight hours of sleep per night.

What does sleep have to do with your weight?

When the body is sleep deprived, the levels of important hormones related to appetite are altered. Production of leptin, which tells the body there is no need for more food, is decreased while ghrelin, which triggers hunger is increased.  Lack of sleep can also increase cravings for foods that are sweet and high in carbohydrates. The body craves carbs when it’s tired because carbs contain glucose, which fuels the brain.

Can naps help lose weight?

Napping during the day will not make up for inadequate sleep at night, and in some cases, napping may be detrimental, especially if taking a nap during the day will keep you up longer at night.

However, for some, taking short (20 minute) naps may help with weight loss. Sleep longer than 20 minutes during the day and your body will fall into the natural circadian cycle of sleep, which can make you even more groggy during the day. But taking a 20 minute nap during the day m ay help you fight cravings in the afternoon, according to Joyce Walsleben, PhD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at New York University School of Medicine.

Tips for getting better sleep

If sleep is hard to come by, try these tips to help you get better sleep each night.

Practice yoga and meditation. Researchers from Harvard have found that participating in daily yoga for eight weeks can improve quality of sleep for people suffering from insomnia.

• Keep your bedroom dark. The darker the room at night, the more melatonin the body produces.  Melatonin will help you sleep.

Turn off your phone. It may be tough to disconnect at night, but your sleep depends on it. Even the slightest bit of light from an alarm clock or cell phone can interfere with melatonin production. Even if you have to get up during the night, use “low blue” lights, which do not interfere with melatonin production.

Take a melatonin supplement. If you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, talk with your doctor about adding melatonin to your daily supplements to help you achieve a normal and healthy sleep cycle. Keep in mind that long-term use of melatonin can interrupt the integral relationship between melatonin production and the body’s adrenal glands.

Eat healthy. Fatty foods, caffeine, and alcohol can inhibit your sleep, so be sure to maintain a healthy diet. Some foods will even help promote sleep, such as: bananas, protein, almonds, calcium, cherries, oatmeal, and hot green tea.

• Use sleep-tracking apps. If you want to learn more about your sleep habits and patterns, try a sleep-tracking app, which can help you sleep better by identifying your sleep/wake cycles, providing meditation tips, and even playing white noise to help you sleep better. Check out this Washington Post article for a rundown of some sleep-tracking apps available.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

Get Your Zzzzz’s Please: Tips for Getting the Right Amount of Sleep

By Betty Murray

If losing weight is on your list of goals for 2015, a healthy diet and regular exercise can help you reach your ideal weight, but here’s another suggestion: get enough sleep.

Eating healthy and exercising will only go so far in helping you drop those extra pounds. Good sleep is the third component of weight loss, but it’s one piece of a healthy life that is easily forgotten.

What is the right amount of sleep?

Poor sleep habits can lead to weight gain and make it more difficult to lose weight. Researchers have found that adults under 40 experience significant gain in belly fat when they log fewer than five hours of sleep each night. Getting too much sleep can also increase weight. The same study shows that those who slept more than eight hours of sleep also saw higher weight gain than those who slept six to seven hours each night. The right amount of sleep for adults should fall between six and eight hours of sleep per night.

What does sleep have to do with your weight?

When the body is sleep deprived, the levels of important hormones related to appetite are altered. Production of leptin, which tells the body there is no need for more food, is decreased while ghrelin, which triggers hunger is increased.  Lack of sleep can also increase cravings for foods that are sweet and high in carbohydrates. The body craves carbs when it’s tired because carbs contain glucose, which fuels the brain.

Can naps help lose weight?

Napping during the day will not make up for inadequate sleep at night, and in some cases, napping may be detrimental, especially if taking a nap during the day will keep you up longer at night.

However, for some, taking short (20 minute) naps may help with weight loss. Sleep longer than 20 minutes during the day and your body will fall into the natural circadian cycle of sleep, which can make you even more groggy during the day. But taking a 20 minute nap during the day m ay help you fight cravings in the afternoon, according to Joyce Walsleben, PhD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at New York University School of Medicine.

Tips for getting better sleep

If sleep is hard to come by, try these tips to help you get better sleep each night.

Practice yoga and meditation. Researchers from Harvard have found that participating in daily yoga for eight weeks can improve quality of sleep for people suffering from insomnia.

• Keep your bedroom dark. The darker the room at night, the more melatonin the body produces.  Melatonin will help you sleep.

Turn off your phone. It may be tough to disconnect at night, but your sleep depends on it. Even the slightest bit of light from an alarm clock or cell phone can interfere with melatonin production. Even if you have to get up during the night, use “low blue” lights, which do not interfere with melatonin production.

Take a melatonin supplement. If you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, talk with your doctor about adding melatonin to your daily supplements to help you achieve a normal and healthy sleep cycle. Keep in mind that long-term use of melatonin can interrupt the integral relationship between melatonin production and the body’s adrenal glands.

Eat healthy. Fatty foods, caffeine, and alcohol can inhibit your sleep, so be sure to maintain a healthy diet. Some foods will even help promote sleep, such as: bananas, protein, almonds, calcium, cherries, oatmeal, and hot green tea.

• Use sleep-tracking apps. If you want to learn more about your sleep habits and patterns, try a sleep-tracking app, which can help you sleep better by identifying your sleep/wake cycles, providing meditation tips, and even playing white noise to help you sleep better. Check out this Washington Post article for a rundown of some sleep-tracking apps available.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.