Change your Metabolism: Balancing Gut Hormones, Food Timing, and Sleep

IMG_3412Venturing to Vancouver and attending the International Congress on Obesity I had no idea what the research would indicate. Would it be the same old messages of “calories in equals out,” “just move more,” “and “cut down on fat intake.”

It turns out this conference gave great detail to the complexity of obesity, weight challenges and management.

A person’s weight is a combination of genetics, hormones, circadian rhythms and lifestyle. To reduce such complexity to an equation is an insult.

So what did I learn? My notes are 18 pages typed but I’m sparing you the details and will give you the reader’s digest version.

While most of us are aware that there are “morning people” and “night owls,” it turns out the time at which you eat your food can regulate whether you burn or store fat. If you are one who stores weight and tends to eat most of your meals after 3 pm the odds of weight loss are not in your favor.

If you eat most of your food (bigger breakfast and lunch with smaller dinner) before 3 pm you can change your body to burning more fat and increasing your metabolic rate.

If we change what we eat and the timing of our food we can change our genes/DNA – we are not predestined to be overweight!

Secondly, our gut hormones are also one of the keys to metabolism, immunity and health. Prebiotics (fiber), probiotics, and a higher protein, lower carb/sugar diet with more veggies are the keys. This type of eating lowers insulin resistance and inflammation in general.

Two other factors affecting the gut hormones are exercise and the intake of fake sweeteners. Research shows some individual’s guts are sensitive to sweeteners in diet foods in that when they use them it increases insulin resistance and fat storage. Exercise affected gut hormones favorably in increasing fat metabolism.

Finally, sleep (no surprise) regulates our cortisol, melatonin, and the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin. Sleeping greater than 7 hours per night is one of the keys to regulating your metabolism.

The recommendation is to sleep so you can wake up without an alarm.

 If you are having problems losing weight it’s worth considering these healthy lifestyle changes – shifting your food intake more towards the beginning to middle part of the day, increasing protein and lowering carbs and sugars, taking a probiotic, avoiding fake sweeteners and getting your rest.

Maybe these are simple messages but the research is clear about why they actually work and since knowledge is power you are now armed with the “why” of what to do rather than just the “how.”