Do you struggle to lose weight, even on the strictest diets? Read on to learn lifestyle hacks that may help you reach your goals.
1) Exercise More
Doing high-intensity exercise is probably the best strategy to lose weight. In addition to promoting fat burning, the increased norepinephrine production may suppress food intake according to a study in rats.
Exercise also increases endorphins, which activates mu-opioid receptors and also suppresses appetite.
You can see a whole list of ways to naturally activate opioids here.
Any exercise is good, though. Aerobic exercise (like walking, running, swimming, etc) has also been shown to cause major reductions in belly fat in multiple studies.
Although the reason is not fully understood, yoga can be a useful tool for weight loss too.
The bottom line is you need to move. Stand, get a treadmill desk, bike to work, do yoga, mix it up. This will burn calories and increase BDNF, ultimately causing you to eat less.
2) Get More and Better Quality Sleep
Short sleep duration has been associated with weight gain in many studies. A meta-analysis of 30 studies and over 630,000 people associated short sleep duration with a 55% higher incidence of obesity in adults and 89% in children.
Poor sleep can increase hunger and cravings and disrupt hunger hormones like ghrelin and leptin.
If your quality or quantity of sleep is bad, everything else will be out of whack. If you’re waking up in the middle of the night, that’s bad news.
3) Reduce Stress
Stress is a well-know risk factor for obesity. It increases cortisol and dynorphin, both of which cause weight gain.
It also increases glutamate, which increases appetite, while decreases NGF and BDNF, both of which are appetite suppressors.
Additionally, stress makes the brain resistant to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that also suppresses appetite. Stress also causes resistance to dopamine, which may cause us to eat more as we’ll need to eat more food for the same rewarding effects.
4) Get More Sun in the Morning
Intense (above 500 lux) light exposure, particularly in the morning, was associated with a lower BMI independent of sleep duration and timing in a study on 54 people.
In a similar study on 34 overweight women, exposure to at least 45 minutes of morning light (between 6-9 AM at 1,300 lux) for 3 weeks resulted in reduced body fat and appetite.
Particularly, red and green light exposure (for 2 hours immediately upon waking) altered the levels of the satiety hormones leptin, and ghrelin in a clinical trial on 11 sleep-restricted (5 hours of sleep per night) people. Both of these hormones cause reduced hunger following sleep deprivation.
In addition to visible light, UV radiation may also contribute to weight loss. In a study in mice fed a high-fat diet, UV reduced obesity regardless of their vitamin D status. On the downside, this radiation is a well-known cause of skin cancer.
UV stimulates the production of vitamin D in the body. The deficiency of this vitamin has been suggested to be a cause of obesity.
5) Block Out Blue Light at Night
Increased blue light exposure at night has been associated with obesity and weight gain in both humans and mice.
In a study of 54 healthy adults, there was a 1.28 unit increase in body mass index for every extra hour of bright light in the evening.
Light exposure in the evening reduces rapid eye movement (REM) and slow-wave sleep, thus worsening metabolic function.
Even dim light at night may disrupt the circadian clock and increase body weight, as seen in a study in mice.
Studies have shown that 35% of the variance in body mass index is caused by light exposure, in particular at night.
Prolonging daily light exposure increased obesity in mice by decreasing energy expenditure (through a reduced noradrenergic activation of brown fat tissue) rather than increasing food intake or activity.
You can reduce your exposure to blue light by wearing blue-blocking glasses for four hours before going to bed, covering any electronics that emit blue or green light with black tape, and put the blinds down at night if light is coming in.
6) Increase Cold Exposure
This means take cold showers, wear an ice helmet/cryohelmet, use fewer layers, etc. Cold increases metabolism and energy expenditure (by increasing brown fat).
In a clinical trial on 50 healthy men, those exposed to a cool environment overnight for a month had a 42% increase in brown fat with a corresponding 10% increase in metabolism.
Cold also stimulates the thyroid hormone cascade, which are hormones that cause weight loss.
7) Love and Be Playful
Oxytocin is released by positive human interactions and has been shown to decrease hunger in multiple animal studies.
Love also increases NGF, which reduces appetite, and increases endorphins, which activate mu-opioid receptors.
8) Be Passionate
Be passionate about your work and life. Being bored will make you prone to overeating, while being busy will help get food off from your mind. In a study on over 500 college students, proneness to boredom and difficulty to regulate emotions were associated with inappropriate eating behaviors.
9) Be Mindful and Meditate
Similarly, you will eat less and enjoy it more if you are mindful about your food. Meditation will allow you to be less impulsive and anxious, which may help prevent you from binge eating.
10) Drink High Amounts of Water
Researchers have estimated that drinking 500 ml (17 oz) of water per day can boost metabolism by 24-30% over a period of 1-1.5 hours, while 2 liters (68 oz) of water can make you burn an additional 96 calories.
Molecular hydrogen water is often claimed to be better for weight loss. In the only study carried out so far (in mice) it induced FGF21, which resulted in the burning of brown fat. Whether hydrogen water has the same effects in humans remains unknown.
11) Get a Sauna
Saunas can increase weight loss, mainly in overweight people, as seen in a study on almost 700 sedentary students. However, the observed reduction in weight mostly stems from water loss due to sweating.
12) Optimize Your Hormones
If you have a severe hormone imbalance, the most important thing is to consult a doctor to identify the underlying condition that may be causing it and to develop a treatment plan.
Make sure your levels of free and total T3, growth hormone, and testosterone and estrogen are optimal. Testosterone has proven effects on weight loss in men, and many men are deficient. You can put LLLT on your testes for a few minutes every other day to boost your testosterone levels or try any of the complementary approaches discussed in this post.
If you’re a woman with low estrogen (usually post-menopausal), estrogen replacement therapy can prevent you from gaining weight.
Growth hormone or GHRH (its precursor) increases muscle and decreases fat. Low-dose growth hormone treatment with diet restriction accelerated body fat loss and increased muscle building in a clinical trial on 24 obese men.
Oxytocin, MSH, and TRH can reduce hunger levels. Having positive relationships, sun, and cold, respectively, may help optimize these 3 hormones. You can also buy them as supplements or put LLT on your thyroid for a few minutes every other day to raise your thyroid hormones.
Keeping to a circadian rhythm is also important for balancing all of your hormones.
Synthetic birth control hormones can cause you to gain weight (up to 2kg) by increasing fat and decreasing muscle. You may discuss your birth control medication with your doctor.
13) Breath In More Oxygen By Being Outside More
Coinciding with the increase in obesity, atmospheric CO2 concentration has increased by more than 40%. Furthermore, we now spend more time indoors, where CO2 often reaches even higher concentrations.
Increased CO2 concentration in inhaled air slightly decreases the pH of blood. Nerve cells in the hypothalamus that regulate appetite and wakefulness have been shown to be extremely sensitive to acid levels, doubling their activity if pH decreases by 0.1 units.
Based on this and on the fact that a similar trend has been observed in multiple species although their diet, food availability, and physical activity remains unchanged, the study hypothesized that increased atmospheric CO2 may lead to increased appetite and energy intake, while decreasing energy expenditure.
14) Take Care of Your Vagus Nerve
Increase your vagus nerve activity and oxygen through breathing exercises. A study on 24 people associated obesity with a decreased heart rate variability, and therefore vagal tone.