Weight loss: Weight loss is a decrease in body weight resulting from either voluntary (diet, exercise) or involuntary (illness) circumstances. Most instances of weight loss arise due to the loss of body fat, but in cases of extreme or severe weight loss, protein and other substances in the body can also be depleted. Examples of involuntary weight loss include the weight loss associated with cancer, malabsorption (such as from chronic diarrheal illnesses ), and chronic inflammation (such as with rheumatoid arthritis).
Sometimes we put on weight for surprising reasons. One out of four Americans doesn’t get enough sleep. And it may be that missing sleep is contributing to the obesity epidemic.
Dozens of research studies have sought a connection between childhood obesity and sleep, and most have found an association. Whether being overweight makes it harder to get enough sleep or sleep causes obesity is not known.
Other studies have looked at overweight adults. Those results also suggest a connection between weight gain and getting more than nine hours or less than five hours of sleep. It could come down to hormones. Hormones related to appetite and calorie-burning—leptin and ghrelin—are affected by sleep patterns. Then again, people who sleep less tend to feel exhausted, making workouts less likely. Whatever may be the cause, you may want to work on sleep hygiene if you’re having trouble losing weight.
Some people figure that by working out they can justify an extra helping of pasta at dinner. That may not be the case, however. We tend to overestimate the calories we burn when we work out, and technology doesn’t help. In one study, researchers found that the average cardio machine overestimates calories burned by 19% on average. In that study, elliptical machines were the worst offenders, overestimating by an average of 42%. Fitness watches showed similar problems.
TURNING TO SNACKS WHEN YOU’RE STRESSED OUT
Have you heard of emotional eating? When you’re stressed out, eating can become an attempt to fill an emotional vacancy in your life. That often means mindless snacking on high-calorie foods, which packs on pounds.
One study had researchers examining locks of hair for the stress hormone cortisol. They found a significant relationship between waist size and high body-mass index (BMI) for participants who showed signs of long-term stress.
There’s a silver lining to all of this. You can ease stress without stretching out your wardrobe. Exercise can be a great way to burn stress as well as lose weight. And relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and massage can bring peacefulness into your life—no calories required.