Worrying about your weight? Then stop now – because it’s that very stress which could be making you fat, according to the inventor of the revolutionary 5:2 diet.
Dr Michael Mosley says there is now ‘compelling scientific evidence’ that stress wreaks havoc with our bodies and predisposes us to putting on weight.
Speaking in The Mail on Sunday’s new ‘Life’ section, he advises dieters to relax.
He explains: ‘Research has shown that chronic stress leads to increased hunger, comfort eating, self-loathing and disrupted sleep.’
‘To lose weight and keep it off, it is important to reduce stress – and all the comfort eating that goes with it.’
In a two-part health plan starting in ‘Life’ tomorrow, Dr Mosley outlines practical tips on how to minimise stress and so make losing weight easier.
Dr Michael Mosley says there is now ‘compelling scientific evidence’ that stress wreaks havoc with our bodies and predisposes us to putting on weight
One essential is getting enough sleep – which has twin beneficial effects.
Firstly, sleeping well minimises levels of so-called ‘hunger hormones’ the next day. Secondly, it cuts levels of the stress hormone cortisol too. Both lead to less comfort eating.
To demonstrate the vital role of sleep when it comes to dieting, he and diabetes expert Dr Eleanor Scott of Leeds University subjected 20 volunteers to a sleep-deprivation experiment.
They had to endure two nights when they went to bed three hours later than usual, to see what impact a lack of sleep had on their eating habits. After that they had another two nights when they went to bed at their normal time and could sleep as long as they liked, with their eating monitored the following days.
Dr Mosley also took part in the study, full results of which will be revealed on BBC Two’s Trust Me, I’m a Doctor this Wednesday at 8.30pm.
He recalled: ‘It was pretty grim.’
Besides feeling dog-tired after the two very late nights, he was also ‘unpleasantly surprised’ by how hungry he was.
‘The same was true for all my fellow volunteers – everyone complained about having had the munchies.’
One volunteer piled through 10 custard cream biscuits – for breakfast.
He explained: ‘Sleep and stress are closely linked: being stressed leads to problems sleeping, and problems sleeping make your stress levels soar.’
Dr Mosley helped popularise intermittent fasting, where dieters restrict their intake to just a few hundred calories for one day or two days a week, in his best-selling book The Fast Diet
Sleep-deprived people consume on average 385 calories extra per day, according to another study – about the same as a large muffin.
But he said the solution was simple, ‘a couple of nights of good sleep’.
Dr Mosley helped popularise intermittent fasting, where dieters restrict their intake to just a few hundred calories for one day or two days a week, in his best-selling book The Fast Diet. Since its publication five years ago millions of people around the world have adopted the ‘5:2’ diet.
To read more expert advice on diet from TV’s Dr Michael Mosley see The Mail on Sunday’s brilliant new Life supplement.