You went to bed too late
Skimp on sleep and you mess with your hunger hormones: ghrelin surges, leaving you feeling hungry, and leptin (which helps you feel full) sinks. Sleep loss also appears to boost blood levels of a chemical that makes eating more pleasurable – similar, believe it or not, to the effects of marijuana, according to a small, recent study from the University of Chicago. Participants who slept only about four hours at night (instead of a healthier 7.5 hours) couldn’t resist what the researchers called ‘highly palatable, rewarding foods fit for the munchies, like cookies, candy, and chips – even though they had a big meal two hours before. Your goal, starting tonight: seven to nine hours of shut-eye.
Not getting enough sleep? Here are some surprising things that could explain your sleep woes.
You opt for the short stack instead of the omelette
And almost every time, not long enough after your last syrup-slathered bite, your stomach is grumbling and you’re left wondering how that’s even possible. Oh, but it is: researchers at the University of Missouri found women who ate a high-protein sausage and egg breakfast felt less hungry and fuller throughout the morning, and even ate fewer kilojoules at lunch, compared to women who had a low-protein plate of pancakes and syrup in the morning, or skipped breakfast altogether. And speaking of bypassing breakfast, try not to: in another study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), results showed eating a healthy breakfast, especially one high in protein, reduced brain signals controlling food motivation and reward-driven eating behaviour, compared to breakfast-skippers. “Protein can fight off cravings and increase satiety at meals,” says dietician Angela Ginn-Meadow, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
You only eat low-fat this and fat-free that
Those processed foods aren’t necessarily better for you: some have extra sugar, others more salt, and many might not even save you kilojoules. But we digress. You’re right to try and avoid trans fats, and not go crazy on the saturated versions. But you can (and should) make room for a little heart-healthy unsaturated fat in your diet, because similar to protein and filling fibre, it can also help you feel full: “Fats slow stomach emptying, as well as trigger satiety hormones,” says registered dietitian Cynthia Sass. All fats, including the healthy fats in olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados, are high in kilojoules, so stick to proper portions. The American Heart Association recommends healthy adults limit fat to 20 to 35 per cent of total daily kilojoules.