Surprising Links Among Stress, Sleep, and Your Weight

Stress and sleep are often overlooked but fundamental components in weight management.

Weight Management.

They are all connected.

Your body is comprised of many chemical processes that ebb and flow throughout the day. You are given cues for when you are hungry and full, when to fall asleep and to wake up, when you need a surge of energy and when your body needs to slow down.

Many of these chemical processes are regulated by the dispersal of our hormones and neurotransmitters, and often occur in relation to one another.

But when any of these cycles are disrupted, your body will make adjustments to attempt to bring itself back into balance. However, when your body is unsuccessful, it creates a vicious cycle that wreaks havoc not only on your body, but also on your mental state, your interactions and relationships with others.

Remember, just because you're sleeping doesn't mean that your body isn't working to put itself back into optimum health.
Your sleep can often be disrupted by stress, which is another detrimental factor in weight management.

Stress can be divided into two camps:
  • internal biological stressors: undiagnosed medical issues that tax basic bodily functions, like insulin production or thyroid disorders
  • external stressors that affect our mental and emotional states: child care, financial burdens, parent care, committing to too many activities
When stress affects your sleep patterns, then the sleep deprivation can affect your ability to handle stress the next day. Left unattended, these two elements can continue to feed each other in an endless loop, and trigger more metabolic processes that will affect your cognitive behaviors and therefore your physical choices.

Here are some hormones and neurotransmitters that work together to regulate are bodily functions:

     • Cortisol will wake you up, give you a boost of energy, and diminish throughout the day.
     • Melatonin triggers the body to rest and sleep and diminishes through the night.

     • Adrenaline provides an immediate surge of energy as a fight or flight response to stress.
     • Cortisol increases the flow of energy as a fight or flight response to stress at a slower pace than
     • Insulin allows energy to be transported into cells for storage and out of cells for consumption.

     • Grhelin triggers hunger.
     • Leptin indicates satiety or fullness.

     • Serotonin regulates your mood in response to anxiety.
     • Dopamine relates to your impulse control.

If any of these are unfamiliar to you, not to worry. When your body is in balance, they are functioning as designed. However, if any of these, or any other metabolic processes, are disrupted, your behavior may have altered in compensation.
One of the biggest responses to a lack of sleep and stress is overeating and drinking. Not only is the quantity a major factor, but the quality of your comfort food and beverages. Your body will crave things high in sugar, fat, and carbohydrates. It is difficult not to  succumb to the hunger cravings. Later we may feel the physiological reactions to consuming the unhealthy food, and feel regret and frustration about it.

Often this unhealthy eating is coupled with  sedentary activities like extensive amounts of screen time on a variety of devices, which,if left unchecked, can lead to significant weight gain. Then we get another night of bad sleep. Susan Zafarlotfi, PhD, clinical director of the Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey makes this comparison:
Sleep debt is like credit card debt. If you keep accumulating credit card debt, you will pay high interest rates or your account will be shut down until you pay it all off. If you accumulate too much sleep debt, your body will crash.
As each individual is chemically unique, your body will respond differently to different stressors, sleep patterns, and behavioral reactions. When these cycles become chronic, or the new normal, you may be at risk for even more health problems.

Recognizing that you have fallen into a sleep-stress cycle is your first step to making changes in your lifestyle. As you investigate the biological or social factors that have prompted this descent, the experts at Metabolic Medical Centers can help you determine your best course of action for proper nutrition and meal management to bring you back into peak health.

Combatting Olive Oil Fraud


Olives are often an acquired taste. Found in relatively dry coastal climates, olives propagate throughout the Mediterranean region, the dry Pacific coast of North and South America and Australia, as well as some temperate climates in New Zealand and Wales, and even in some desert climates with the help of irrigation.
As one of the most prolific fruit crops in the world, olives are also one of the most extensively cultivated. Olive trees have been referenced in Ancient Greek and Roman writings as well as Hebrew, Christian, and Islamic texts. More important than the fruit itself, olives are valued for the oil they produce.  
But there is a major controversy in the olive oil world. Unfortunately, this controversy is not new. It has been happening for over a millennia. It is a case of fraud. Olive oil fraud. Olive oil fraud relating specifically to a extra virgin olive oil. The most recent controversy affecting the olive oil industry involves the Italian mafia and the Italian production of extra virgin olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil is defined as the first pressing of an olive harvest and contains no additives.

Olive oil producers may dupe us in a few different ways:
          •  mixing lower grade olive oil with some extra virgin olive oil
          • combining other kinds of seed oils, like sunflower oil, with drops of chlorophyll and beta-carotene with
             extra virgin olive oil
          • outright counterfeit olive oil: soy, hazelnut, fish oils mixed with olive-pomace oil (made from the olive
Then the olive oil is often knowingly mislabeled, and occasionally spoiled by the time it comes to market. According to an article in Forbes Magazine, many multinational commercial forces across multiple industries, lax governmental oversights, and underfunded or corrupt food inspection agencies worldwide mislead consumers into purchasing inferior products at higher prices that may also have severe health repercussions, in regards to food allergies as well as spoiled goods.
So what can we do?
Experts at the UC Davis Olive Center believe that education is the key:

  • What are you using the olive oil for? Cook with mid-priced oil, If it’s cooking, a lower grade oil is best. Extra virgin olive oil is better for drizzling over fresh breads, cheeses, and vegetables.
  • Know the source. If you can purchase olive oil locally or directly from a producer online, you avoid potential deceit from the larger food corporations and any middlemen.
  • If you can’t purchase locally or directly, demand that your grocery stores purchase properly labeled and verifiable olive oil.
  • Look for containers that combat the enemies of olive oil: heat and light. These containers will be made of dark colored glass or tin, or will have a label that will cover most of the bottle.
  • Examine the label. What should you look for on a label?
          • Origin: not only of a country, but also a specific region
          • Harvest date: the further away the two-year date is, the fresher the oil is
          • Date of bottling
          • Cultivators - olive varieties used
          • Seal of quality

  • Pay attention to price. Think of the premium price as a reflection of a craft or artisanal movement, where each variety is tended and produced with the highest expectations of quality and care.
  • Keep in a cool, dark location to maintain freshness.
  • Purchase in small quantities. Treat extra virgin olive oil as a luxury item to be savored and appreciated, but also to be enjoyed during its peak freshness.

If olive oil, in any form, is a part of your household meal preparation and consumption, then selecting the best possible products for you and your family is paramount.

Consult with the experts at the Metabolic Medical Centers on olive oil use and consumption as it relates to your weight management goals.

Beware of Lurking Hidden Sugars!

Oh, sugar! Friend and foe!

Our bodies break down food into the simplest form of sugar, glucose, to provide energy.

Many of our foods already contain naturally occurring sugars. Think of your fruits: grapes, apples, peaches, blueberries…
Regular sugar comes in many forms that you’ve probably seen in various aisles of your local grocery store: refined white sugar, light and dark brown sugar, raw sugar, powdered sugar, molasses, and others. These are sugars that you consciously add to your foods.
In addition to these sugars, there are other sweeteners that you may also regularly use as an alternative: honey, agave, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, and other natural or synthetic artificial sweeteners.

But there are also hidden sugars in your foods. Food manufacturers often use sugar as a filler and a binding agent in the recipes. If you purchase prepackaged foods, then most likely you are consuming hidden sugars.

Obvious examples include soda, cookies, candy, and other desserts. But what about other things that you eat: ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressing, spaghetti sauce, salsa, energy drinks, canned or bottled coffee or tea, frozen dinners, cereals, pastas, granola, flavored yogurt, dried fruit.
So how do you know if there are hidden sugars in your foods? If it is prepackaged or already prepared foods, you can assume that there are hidden or added sugars.

While the USDA Dietary Guidelines and the Choose My Plate do not address sugars, the American Heart Association recommends the following daily sugar consumption not to exceed  the following:
Female 100 calories 6 teaspoons 24 grams
Male 150 calories 9 teaspoons 36 grams
When tracking your sugar consumption, you must factor in the hidden sugars in your food choices. This will mean reading nutrition labels. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  has conducted extensive research which has resulted in a revision of nutrition labels to include an added sugar category.
Food manufacturers have 2-3 years to comply with updating their nutrition labels. In the meantime, how will you identify added sugars: examine the ingredients list on the nutrition label. While natural sugars aren’t listed, below are some common sugar or sweetener terms:

Sugar Terms Technical or scientific sugar terms
(usually with “sugar” or “syrup”) (ending in  -ose or -ide)
brown sugar dextrose
cane sugar fructose
raw sugar lactose
beet sugar maltose
confectioners sugar galactose
corn syrup sucrose
high fructose corn syrup ribose
malt syrup saccharose
rice syrup glucose

Sugar Alcohols Artificial Sweeteners
erythritol Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet, Canderel)
glycol Acesulfame-K (Acesulfame potassium)
glycerin Saccharin (Sweet-n-Low
iditol Sucralose (Splenda)
isomalt Stevia* (Sweetleaf, Truvia)
lacitol *Stevia is natural in its raw form, but is often contains other fillers)

With the excessive amounts of hidden sugars and sweeteners in our foods, our bodies have been trained to crave sweeter foods. This can be detrimental to our overall health by creating an biological addiction which can lead to other devastating health issues such as diabetes and liver failure.
Grocery Store Golden Rule:  If it’s pre-made or prepackaged, it probably has added sugars. 
Contact the experts at the Metabolic Medical Centers to discuss your personal sugar consumption levels, and to determine the best course of action to reduce your sugar intake.

See How Easily You Can Manage Halloween Candy and Weight Loss!

When we have thoughts of the holidays, it usually centers around the feast that is Thanksgiving, and all the holiday parties associated with Christmas and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

But then there’s the unofficial start to the holiday feasting season: Halloween!
The sheer amount of candy bombarding us as Halloween approaches can weaken our resolve in maintaining our weight loss regime. There are several strategies that you can employ prior to, during and after Halloween to combat the sugar onslaught:


  • Wait to purchase candy on Halloween.
  • Purchase less candy.
  • Purchase candy you don’t like or more healthy options or novelty items instead.
  • Stay up-to-date on candy recalls.
  • Plan or participate in a Halloween event: a party where you control the food choices, a haunted house, pumpkin picking,  a corn maze, a charity 5-10K walk/run, a Halloween- or horror-movie night.

  • Make a pact with someone for accountability: pieces per day, photographing all of your food, days to indulge, physical activities.
  • Post your intentions publicly, and ask for support.
  • Take your measurements in advance so that you can watch your progress.
  • Maintain your healthy meals and exercise regime.

On Halloween
For both you and your children

  • Eat a sensible meal before trick-or-treating.
  • Turn trick-or-treating into a workout:
    • Walk instead of drive through the neighborhoods.
    • Track your progress with a pedometer.
    • Make it a workout game: a house with a pumpkin, do 10 jumping jacks; a house with a witch, 10 alternating lunges; a house with spider webs, 10 squats.

  • Select a more form-fitting costume to help show off your dedicated hard work to maintaining a healthy body.
  • Chew gum to curb your sweet tooth, allow yourself one piece of candy every few blocks; or bring the sweet treats recommended by your weight management plan.
  • Take water or a low-calorie drink.
  • Leave the pillowcase at home. Use a smaller container for candy collection, and stop when it is full.
  • If you’re in charge of handing out candy, let the last trick-or-treater take what’s left. Or if you are passing out novelty items, donate them to a local teacher.


  • Sort and trade your loot according to what you like.
  • Hide the candy jar.
  • Limit the number of pieces daily you will allow yourself and your children to have.
    • Pick your 10 favorite pieces and give the rest away.
    • Set a candy dump date.
    • Divvy out your candy into smaller bags, with a week’s worth of your daily allotment. Go through one bag per week.
    • Freeze your candy. It will force you to eat the pieces more slowly. No one wants to crack a tooth.
  • Savor your candy eating experience with a slow, mindful consumption.
  • Know what 100 calories of candy looks like.

  • Keep the wrappers out to keep track of how many pieces you’ve eaten.
  • Participate in the 80-second rule: do 80 seconds of physical activity like wall push-ups or squats, eat your piece of candy, then do 80 seconds of physical activity 90 minutes later. The candy will convert to energy which your muscles will use right then. Walking breaks are also helpful.
  • Replace the candy dish on your office desk with more healthy options, particularly if you are on a weight management plan that has its own recommended sweet treats.
  • Ask colleagues to help by making their candy dishes less visible.
  • Recover with your regular healthy meals and workout regime.

Since most of us do not exercise enough, the extra calories from sugar can sneak into not only a weight conundrum but also affect how our bodies process food for energy, and trigger our hormones for hunger, satiety, insulin production, and other metabolic processes.

Part of healthy Halloween snacking is acknowledging that we want to have some of those sweets. The plethora of candy placed in opportune locations throughout the stores makes it hard to resist. Then we have the specials we hear on the radio, see on tv, or posted at various restaurants. (Who isn’t interested in a pumpkin-spiced latte?)
Turning non-candy healthy options into eye-catching Halloween themed snacks can tap into our creativity, help us manage our sweet temptations, and prepare us for the holiday season.

Contact the specialists at the Metabolic Medical Centers to strategize your weight management for the upcoming holiday feasting season.