Much of the latest research surrounding weight loss has focused on certain hormones and chemicals, and how they function. One of the latest naturally occurring substances to come under scrutiny is serotonin. In the quest to fight the battle of the bulge researchers are asking themselves how serotonin affects weight loss. Below we take a closer look at what the latest research says on how serotonin affects weight loss.
Serotonin occurs naturally in the brain. It is a neurotransmitter that sends messages back and forth to different sides of the brain. Meals that are high in carbohydrates encourage the brain to manufacture serotonin. When the body is short on serotonin it craves carbohydrates. This is one reason that people crave carbohydrates to the point where weight gain can occur. Carbohydrates are necessary for energy and optimal body function, but too many can cause the body to store the excess energy from carbohydrates as fat.
The messages that serotonin send back and forth from the brain affect appetite, mood, energy levels, and memory. Serotonin also affects the functioning of the heart and muscles. The compound works mainly in the brain, but is found mainly within blood platelets in the digestive tract.
The Problem with Low Serotonin
Serotonin represents a very unique problem in dieters trying to lose weight. Many of the diets today are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. These are supported by scientific studies and are perfectly healthy. The problem lays in the fact they these types of lower carbohydrate diets cause serotonin levels to decrease. Decreased serotonin levels lead to craving carbohydrates, decrease in energy, and lack of focus. The logical answer is to increase carbohydrates, but then the person ends up gaining weight through increased carbohydrate intake. It’s a catch 22.
The Healthy Solution to Low Serotonin Levels
Serotonin is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain so it is not harmful at normal levels. Serotonin can be purchased as a supplement at most supplement and vitamin stores across the country. Many people take serotonin as a way to as a way to curb depression and increase energy. It is also becoming more popular as a way to fight carb cravings.
You’ll want to start off taking about half of the recommended dosage of the serotonin supplement to see how it affects you. As your body adjusts to it you will want to gradually increase the dosage to the recommended amount. Never take more than the recommended amount in the packaging.
There are also other factors that affect serotonin levels in the body. Lack of sunlight exposure can lead to a drop in serotonin. This lack of sunlight that causes a drop in serotonin is one theory that scientists say can contribute to increased depression for some people during the winter. Make sure to get daily sunlight when possible.
Exercise also increases serotonin levels in the brain. Researchers and health experts say that 40 minutes is the magic number to get to for optimal serotonin levels and weight loss.
Of course there is no way to completely cut carbs out of your diet. It’s not healthy to do so anyway. To keep your serotonin levels up make sure to follow the recommendations of getting exposure to sunlight as well as plenty of exercise. Also pick up a serotonin supplement if you feel it would help.
If you are craving carbs because of low serotonin levels, be sure to eat quality carbs suc as brown rice, fruits, and whole grains. Avoid snack foods such as chips, crackers, and pastries that give you a quick spike in energy followed by a crash. These types of carbs also will leave you feeling hungry a short while after consuming them.
As you can see, serotonin levels play a major role in weight loss and overall health. Be sure to check with your health care provider before starting any kind of supplements, diet, and workout routine.