Why Weight Loss Isn’t just about Eating Less – The Sleep, Stress and Cortisol Connection with Nutritionist Jennifer Whitney

Did you know you can lose weight while you sleep? Dr. Michael Karlfeldt talks with Jennifer Whitney, nutritionist about why simply eliminating calories in your diet won’t help you to lose weight and keep it off. 

Check with the Karlfeldt Center to see what Nutrition Programs are currently running. 

Dr. K: You’re a nutritionist, it’s a new year, and people want to lose weight. Right?

JW: Yep.

Dr. K: So we’ve been eating all that garbage food. And we’re feeling the digestive system. What are some of the things you would suggest? What do they need to do to start a successful weight loss program?

JW: You really want to go in and look at your habits. And you want to get on a good program which is one we offer through our office, which is called Take Shape for Life, and you get a health coach. But also you get a book and you start to really read and learn what’s called The Habits for Health. Because there’s a lot that goes into weight loss, doing it correctly.

Dr. K: So it isn’t just I eat less, and I eat my meat and vegetables. It’s not just that?

JW: No. It’s really important to balance the blood sugar. So you want to make sure you get on a healthy eating program. And this program works with meal replacements which balances the blood sugar. And then you cook your own, which is high in protein vegetables. Clients start to eat every 2-3 hours. So that balances the blood sugar. And you start to drink a lot of water – 64 ounces a day. You eliminate alcohol. And you eliminate grains and fruits. And you just go in and really get that blood sugar even, and that really helps the body to start losing weight in a very safe, consistent way.  

But while you’re doing that, you want to go in and look at your lifestyle, and ask yourself “what is it that I’m doing that is causing this to happen?” Because if you don’t go in and look at that, most likely you are going to gain the weight back.

Dr. K: So when you say lifestyle, what kind of lifestyle habits are we talking about?

JW: One of the biggest ones I see clients deal with is the emotional stuff. And that can be coming from all different directions, whether it’s family stress, personal stress, job stress, things like that. That’s really big. Because when they’re feeling stress, the body releases cortisol, and that can cause the body to hold onto weight. And so that’s a big one, is learning how to manage your mental stress.

And then looking at exercise. In the first part of this you don’t have to exercise, but as you get further into it, it’s very beneficial to exercise. And that helps to reduce stress. And then sleep habits, that’s really important. If you don’t sleep correctly, that can actually really affect weight loss, and just your health in general.

Dr. K: So Jen, how can a person lose weight while they are sleeping? I thought being active … I mean, I thought you are supposed to burn calories as much calories. So how can sleeping, or just laying there … how can that help you lose weight?

JW: Well for one, when you are getting the right amount of sleep – which is typically 6-7 hours for women, and 7-8 hours for men – the body is going in and is actually the repairing cells and it’s rejuvenating the body, and optimizes the hormone leptin and the human growth hormone, and that actually causes you to lose weight while you are sleeping.

Dr. K: And the human growth hormone, is the one that actually repairs while you are sleeping, so then you burn a lot of calories, then doing that?

JW: Yeah, can you believe it? You actually lose weight while you’re sleeping!

Dr. K: That’s impressive. I should sleep more!

Photo by JESHOOTS on Unsplash.