High levels of this vitamin are associated with 20 pounds more weight loss.
Higher levels of vitamin D are linked to more weight loss, research finds.
People who are dieting have been shown to lose 20 pounds more when they have high vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D at higher levels in the body is also associated with burning belly fat.
The conclusions come from a study of 4,421 people whose total body fat and belly fat was measured.
Across men and women, higher vitamin D levels were linked to less belly fat, the results showed.
However, women with higher vitamin D levels also had less total body fat.
One reason for the beneficial effect of vitamin D may be its connection with the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Serotonin can affect everything from sleep to mood.
High levels of vitamin D may suppress the storage of fat.
Over half the people in the world may be deficient in vitamin D.
Foods that are rich in vitamin D include oily fish and eggs, but most people get their vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin.
That is why levels are typically lower in the body through the winter months in more Northern climes.
Dr Rachida Rafiq, the study’s first author, said:
“Although we did not measure vitamin D deficiency in our study, the strong relationship between increasing amounts of abdominal fat and lower levels of vitamin D suggests that individuals with larger waistlines are at a greater risk of developing deficiency, and should consider having their vitamin D levels checked.”
The study does not prove causation, though, Dr Rafiq explained:
“Due to the observational nature of this study, we cannot draw a conclusion on the direction or cause of the association between obesity and vitamin D levels. However, this strong association may point to a possible role for vitamin D in abdominal fat storage and function.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
The study was published in the journal Clinical Nutrition (Rafiq et al., 2018).
Netflix and Eat? Here’s How To Stop Overindulging During Pandemic Isolation
Spending way too many hours in front of the TV?
Indulging in way too many salty snacks?
You’re not alone.
A recent Bloomberg report cited data showing sales were up — way up — for all types of comfort foods, including popcorn (48 per cent), pretzels (47 per cent) and potato chips (30 per cent) compared to a year ago.
This doesn’t come as a surprise to Kira Lynne, a life coach and counsellor in Vancouver. During stressful or anxious times, such as what we’re experiencing right now with the COVID-19 pandemic, people will reach out for things that bring them comfort, whether it be certain junk foods, TV shows or video games.
“It’s a scary time.”
Lynne said its important you don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself giving in to these temptations.
“Be gentle with yourself on that.”
That said, there are some practical things you can do if you’re worried about overindulging. She suggests, for instance, delaying the snacking and the Netflix-watching to the end of the day as sort of a “reward” to yourself.
Another piece of advice: eating “mindfully.” Get rid of distractions, such as the TV. You’ll enjoy the food more and won’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied.
Amy Bondar, a nutritional therapist and certified eating psychology coach in Calgary, agrees.
To slow down the binge eating, she recommends that her clients “see, taste, smell and hear each bite of food,” they take in. In other words, “experience the experience of eating.”
“Unwanted eating behaviours only happen in the stress response and the more heightened your stress and anxiety, the more likely you are to eat unconsciously and stand in front of the pantry or fridge gnawing on your worries,” she wrote in a recent blog post.
With so much uncertainty in the world right now and things that are beyond our control, experts recommend focusing on finding things that you can control. That includes building a daily routine for yourself so you have some predictability and structure to your day.
Lynne says in the first part of her day, she takes her dog for a walk, comes home and meditates, makes breakfast, devotes a couple hours to work and then takes a lunch break.
Adrienne Clarkson, Canada’s former governor general, even weighed in this week on the importance of establishing a routine, tweeting: “It is so good for the morale to dress every day as though going to the office, or a meeting. For heaven’s sake wash your hair and don’t wear pyjamas or a sweat suit all day! And, guys, SHAVE!”
On the question of whether it’s OK to keep the PJs on throughout the day, Lynne prefers not to make a blanket rule. Instead, she might ask her clients, “how do you feel different if you are in PJs?” or “are you glad you got out of PJs?” and then letting their answers guide their clothing choices.
With many people no longer having to deal with commutes and appointments, both experts suggest taking advantage of this free time to try new hobbies or to set new goals.
Go online and find a home workout routine that you like. Start an online business. Catch up with old friends over the phone or video chat. Do some spring cleaning around the house.
“Use this time as an opportunity to redefine your health, not decline your health,” Bondar said.
Lynne also suggests limiting your intake of coronavirus news each day.
“I check it once a day. Just as much as I need to stay healthy — nothing additional,” she said, adding that she’s “asked people in my life not to send me gloom and doom.”
“I need to keep my mental health in a good place.”
Experts say another way to lessen anxiety is to find ways to help others. Make an online donation to a charity, Lynne said. Or help deliver food to people who can’t get out of the house.
“It gives a sense of purpose.”
How To Combat Weight Gain During The Pandemic
(beyond Diet And Exercise)
But health experts strongly recommend you do your best to prevent excess weight gain during this historic and scary time.
Dr. David Buchin, director of bariatric surgery at Huntington Hospital, is seeing that a large percentage of the patients battling Covid-19 in the medical center’s intensive care unit are obese. Patients who are obese are especially challenging to care for, he said, as treatment involves rolling them from their back to their front regularly to optimize lung function. In addition, a recent study found that in patients under the age of 60, obesity doubled the risk of Covid-19 hospitalization.
I’m not suggesting starting a strict diet or intense exercise program while sheltering in place, but there are some simple things you can do to prevent weight gain and protect yourself not only from Covid-19-related complications, but also from diseases such as diabetes and heart disease that will remain two of the top causes of death after we get through this pandemic.
When it comes to quarantine shopping, it’s important to be organized, especially when it comes to eating enough fruits and vegetables (aim for five servings per day if you can). Buy a combination of fresh, frozen and canned to last you at least a week or more.
Consume fresh products first and then move on to frozen and canned. Rinse canned vegetables to reduce sodium, and be sure to consume fresh or frozen fruit daily as the vitamin C content of canned fruits and vegetables, which is important for immunity health, is lower than fresh or frozen.
Chef Devin Alexander, who has maintained a 70-pound weight loss for decades, has some terrific tips for shopping on a budget and managing quarantine cravings. When buying produce, for example, unlike most other items, she suggested looking for the items on sale.
Watermelon and berries go on sale in the summer because they’re in season and thus very plentiful. That’s also when they taste the best, so you can make amazing desserts without the need for a ton of added sugar.
Alexander also recommended having coleslaw on hand for when the salty cravings hit. Her recipe for Orange Cilantro Cole Slaw, available on her website, satisfies that salty, crunchy hankering in a way that’s actually good for you. It helps get in a serving or two of vegetables, and just might keep you from “needing” to eat a bag of chips. In addition, cabbage and carrots are budget-friendly, last for weeks and are loaded with immune-supporting nutrients.
When you come home from the store, make sure to put the healthier foods in more easily seen locations in your kitchen. Food cravings and hunger can be triggered by just seeing food, so keep more indulgent foods out of sight – and hopefully out of mind – on upper shelves in your cupboard, in the back of the fridge or the bottom of the freezer.
During this global crisis it’s even more important than ever to find ways to conquer stress and manage anxiety.
I know, it isn’t easy. Balancing homeschooling, financial challenges, cabin fever, social isolation and illness is stressful, but stress can contribute to poor eating choices and increase fat deep in your belly (underneath the muscle) that can contribute to heart disease and diabetes even more than the pinchable fat that lies directly underneath your skin.
Practice mindfulness, meaning doing your best trying to live in the present versus worrying too much about the future. That’s the advice from Joanne Koegl, a licensed marriage and family therapist who tells clients to take time out of their day to focus on simple things such as the warmth of the sun, the beauty of a flower, the taste of a bite of chocolate or the laugh of a child.
Koegl recommended apps and websites such as Headspace, Calm, The Tapping Solution (a self-administered therapy based on Chinese acupressure that can help calm the nervous system) and Breathe by anxiety expert Dr. Jud Brewer. These resources and others are offering free services focused on managing Covid-19-related anxiety and stress.
You can also practice basic self-care to manage anxiety and relieve stress. Take a hot bath, find a quiet place in your house and sip a cup of tea, exercise, call an old friend or consider volunteering if it’s safe. Helping others also gives you a sense of purpose and joy.
If you are really struggling with anxiety, there are mental health telemedicine options such as Doctor on Demand and crisis hotlines available in major cities across the country. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to reach out for professional help.
Both excess sleep and inadequate sleep have been linked to weight gain, increased appetite and worsening blood sugar control, so try your best not to completely abandon your sleep schedule by staying up late, sleeping until noon or staying up all night watching television.
Try to stay on a relatively normal sleep schedule, experts recommend. This is much easier to do if you follow basic sleep principles including avoiding excess alcohol before bed, keeping your room as dark as possible and at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit and exercising regularly. And turn off the news (and put down your phones) in the hours before bed.
Spending so much time at home has another unforeseen consequence. You are burning far fewer calories going about your daily life than you were pre-quarantine, regardless of whether you exercise daily.
Sitting at the computer for hours, whether doing Zoom work calls or socializing, and staying inside on evenings and weekends binge-watching television, along with shopping and socializing online, easily all add up to several hundred fewer calories burned per day through non-exercise activity, which is often higher than intentional exercise for most people. It’s essential to incorporate more movement and less sitting every day.
Buchin tells his patients to commit to a certain amount of exercise to “earn” their television viewing. For example, for each movie they watch they should incorporate 20 minutes of some form of activity which could be cleaning, playing with your family, gardening or even simply standing while talking on the phone or participating in a Zoom call.
I have been using my Apple Watch more than ever lately. I appreciate the reminder to stand up every hour for at least one minute and the ability to track my general daily activity in addition to exercise.
If you don’t have a fitness device, set a timer on your phone or even your microwave to remind you to get up every hour and walk around the house, up and down the stairs a few times or just do some stretching in place before sitting down again.
As we hear repeatedly on the news, we are all in this together, and my hope is that with these tips, you and your loved ones can maintain your weight and stay fit, healthy and maybe even a little less stressed during this global pandemic.
Dr. Melina Jampolis is an internist and board-certified physician nutrition specialist and author of several books, including “Spice Up, Slim Down.”