If you think that something is driving your weight gain and you can’t quite put your finger on it, you could be right!

New research says that three things can be contributing to your expanding middle in ways you may not recognize: food commercials; food additives; and lack of sleep.

sleep and appetite controlYou may have heard that you can actually snooze in order to lose. That’s true! Less than 8 hours of sleep a night will reduce the body’s ability to burn fat, according to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers looked specifically at two groups on calorie restricted diets: one group slept for 8.5 hours and the other group slept for 5.5 hours. The difference was enough to amaze researchers, as the group that got the most sleep also lost more than double the body fat! At issue is appetite control. Those who are sleeping better will have better regulation of ghrelin and leptin, which are part of the appetite regulation system. In short, you eat less if you sleep more.

But this isn’t the only lurking impact on your ability to lose fat. Food additives are another issue. Modern day food often contains preservatives and salt to keep products safe to eat for longer periods of time. It turns out that these same compounds can make you crave more food than you should.

The answer here is simple: prepare your own food from fresh ingredients. You can then easily control salt and there will be no preservatives present.

Finally, it’s not just your imagination that food commercials are driving you to the kitchen. They are designed to make food look as enticing as possible – and that can trigger “hunger” when you wouldn’t normally have reached for food.

The best solution here is to walk away from the TV set – but not into the kitchen! It’s also a great opportunity to fit in a quick 5 minutes of exercise, from High Intensity Interval Training to a couple of sets of sit-ups or push-ups.

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