The Psychology of Weight Loss: Meditation

whey proteinStress and weight gain are not invariably invariably linked. However, there is enough evidence in the scientific literature to suggest that stress is a major contributory factor in many cases of weight gain. Clearly, biochemical mechanisms exist to explain the development of obesity, and these involve the consumption of refined carbohydrates and refined crystalline fructose, and a subsequent desensitisation of the tissues, particularly skeletal muscle, to the effects of the hormone insulin. A number of downstream biochemical changes occur secondary to the insulin resistance, and this can include changes to lipoprotein concentrations, increases in blood pressure as well as the accumulation of fats in the liver. Situations and conditions that increase the consumption of refined crystalline fructose or refined carbohydrates therefore may therefore accelerate and contribute to the development of weight gain and obesity. Stress is such a factor because it causes some individuals to consume carbohydrates as a coping mechanism.

Decreasing stress may therefore facilitate weight loss. Meditation has been shown consistently to lead to reductions in many of the symptoms of stress including reductions in blood pressure, reductions in circulating concentrations of stress hormones, and reductions in emotional feelings of stress that can include frustration, anger, hostility and fear. Meditation has a long history of use by human civilisations and its medical uses are well documented in historical records from all over the World. Meditation is really a form of controlled thought process such that concentration is focussed inwards, often though focussed attention to breathing. The idea behind meditation is to decrease the attention of the surroundings and the current thought processes, the latter being a possible cause of stress, and to shift attention elsewhere. It is unknown why meditation is so beneficial to the health, but may be the ability of the individual to remove themselves from immediate thoughts of danger that improve their physical condition.

weight loss

Meditation techniques may improve blood sugar levels through a reduction in the insulin resistance that develops from a poor quality diet containing too much refined carbohydrate. Combining meditation with reductions in the intake of refined carbohydrate may be a very effective weight loss strategy.

Meditation can take many forms and the exact form that is useful at reducing stress may differ between individuals. A number of meditative techniques have been developed into simple programmes that can be learnt easily, and many of these are available to use free on the internet. Once a basic understanding of mediation is achieved, customisation can allow the desired technique to be developed to suit the individual. Basic breathing techniques that can be used to treat anxiety are a form of meditation and the ultimate goal of these techniques is similar to what constitutes traditional meditation. Visualisation is a form of meditation that may be useful in weight loss, but it differs somewhat to the traditional definition of what constitute meditation and so may be a useful adjunct or complementary technique to a more traditional meditation strategy. Some evidence suggest that meditation may directly improve insulin resistance and reduce blood sugar levels making it directly applicable as a weight loss strategy.


About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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