They fix the things that are stopping you from losing weight…
So…you’ve been dieting for what seems to be forever, have upped your exercise regimen, and yet you’re still struggling to lose weight…
You’ve hit the dreaded weight loss plateau – and nothing you do seems to help. Yes - you’ve heard that as you lose weight, your metabolism declines which slows your weight loss. Yet despite switching things up, you’re still well and truly stuck. And desperate…
You don’t need to be. It’s all about understanding that losing weight - and keeping it off - is so much more than diet and exercise. Anything from your hormones to emotional state can make an enormous difference as to whether or not you can break through that weight loss plateau, and then maintain a stable weight forever.
This is where essential oils can help. Each oil possesses its own unique set of healing properties. Some have fat-burning compounds while others can improve gut health and digestion. And if you want to curb cravings or improve your mood, they can do that too – and so much more.
While they aren’t going to ‘magically’ melt away those pounds, many essential oils have powerful medicinal properties that can actually address a whole lot of unusual reasons why you are still struggling to lose weight…
SO WHY CAN’T YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
We all know that healthy eating and exercise are the foundations of any successful weight loss plan. You’ve eliminated sugar and processed foods, reduced bad carbs and upped your protein intake, cut your portion sizes, ditched sodas and fruit juices in favor of water, stopped snacking, and have added HIIT to your exercise routine. So just what is the deal when no matter how well you eat or how hard you exercise, you’re still not able to shift those excess pounds?
It could be that you’re the victim of one of the unexpected saboteurs of weight loss. Our bodies are very complex machines and are often thrown out of whack when they don’t get all the TLC they need. And in many instances, this can totally jeopardise your weight loss efforts…
YOU’RE NOT SLEEPING WELL
If you do nothing else, make sure you’re getting enough good quality sleep. Sleep specialist neuroscientist, Matthew Walker, argues that good sleeping habits are the most important thing you can do for weight loss (and overall health) – even more so than diet and exercise.
Studies confirm that poor sleep is one of the single biggest risk factors for obesity. Lack of good quality sleep shows that adults are at a 55% greater risk of becoming overweight, and children a massive 89% more.
That’s because lack of sleep triggers no less than five different hormones that have a direct impact on your weight. First off, you become less sensitive to insulin, which increases blood sugar levels that cause weight gain. Then your hunger hormone, ghrelin, goes into overdrive, while leptin, the hormone that signals fullness, plunges - resulting in permanent hunger pangs. Add in the stress hormone, cortisol, which surges with lack of sleep, making your body store more fat. Finally, less deep sleep deprives your body of the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) so decreasing the rate at which it burns fat.
STRESS, ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION ARE THROWING YOU OFF
We all live stressful, fast paced lives. However, persistent chronic stress can cause absolute havoc in the body and become a major factor in stubborn weight loss.
A stressful job or relationship - or even when day to day demands just get too much - can result in the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, becoming permanently elevated which just stimulates your desire to eat more. To make it worse, your body then stores any excess sugar as fat. Stress also steps up the production of a brain chemical, neuropeptide Y, which intensifies your craving for carbs. In fact, a study has shown that constant work-related stress can actually cause women to gain weight.
Elevated cortisol levels also come into play when you’re feeling depressed. And it’s also quite common to mindlessly munch on high-calorie comfort foods when you’re feeling down. It’s no wonder stress, anxiety and depression are practically guaranteed to sabotage any weight loss efforts.
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YOU’RE EATING WELL BUT AT THE WRONG TIME
You’ve probably heard of the circadian rhythm - the way your body and brain respond to the daily cues of daylight and darkness - that affects everything from your metabolism and hormone levels to body temperature. But did you know how it much it can affect your weight loss efforts?
It turns out that your body uses less energy to digest and metabolize your food the closer it gets to night time. So while your body may be able to burn off that healthy salmon and avocado salad you have at lunch time, by the time you get closer to when the sleep hormone, melatonin, is produced, your body’s ability to efficiently metabolize even a healthy meal is substantially reduced. A study confirmed that college students who ate food closer to their bedtime had higher percentages of body fat and a higher body-mass index.
So even if you’re not eating more, this factor alone might find you struggling to shift those extra pounds. Experts also suggest you eat during a window of 8 to 12 hours a day, and then don’t eat for the rest of the time, especially as you get older and your metabolism slows.
YOUR GUT IS NOT HEALTHY
If you feel you’re fighting a losing battle with weight loss, you can also blame your gut. Made up of a diverse community of trillions of bacteria and yeast, your gut is not only home to about 80% of your immune system, but also helps control your metabolism, hunger - and weight.
A healthy gut has a healthy balance of bugs. But this can be quickly thrown into disarray by issues such as a poor diet, obesity and lack of sleep. This causes an overgrowth of bad bugs that in turn trigger inflammation, insulin resistance and promote weight gain.
Aside from not being able to lose weight, some signs that your gut health is not in a good place include gas and bloating, diarrhea or constipation, and sugar cravings.
YOU COULD BE INSULIN RESISTANT
One of the main reasons why so many people struggle to lose weight is because their bodies have become resistant to insulin. It controls your blood sugar levels, but it does far more than that. It also controls fat storage.
As insulin is responsible for lowering your blood sugar levels, being insulin resistant typically means that your blood sugar levels are always too high, and the only way the body can deal with this is to convert those sugars into fat stores. A study found that high levels of both insulin and the appetite control hormone, leptin, then also prevent those fat stores from ever being burned off. So insulin resistance not only means that you may continue to gain weight, but will also struggle to lose it.
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HOW ESSENTIAL OILS HELP YOU TO LOSE WEIGHT
While there’ll never be a replacement for a healthy diet and daily exercise to help shift those extra pounds, essential oils can play an important supporting role in helping you lose weight.
Every essential oil possesses its own unique set of healing properties, each of which can contribute to your weight loss efforts. For instance, some oils have fat burning compounds, while others can help regulate blood sugar levels. They can also can help curb constant cravings and reduce snacking, and improve digestive health.
Some essential oils promote good sleep, and can also do wonders if you’re stressed and anxious. Many are powerful anti-inflammatories as well.
So whether you’re struggling with sugar cravings, a sluggish metabolism or poor digestion, or striving to reduce emotional eating binges, constant fatigue, and high stress, the following essential oils could be the missing links that take your weight loss efforts to the next level…
GRAPEFRUIT ESSENTIAL OIL FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Best for: Metabolism, fat burning, blood sugar levels, appetite suppressant, bloating, water retention.
Well known to help people lose weight, grapefruit essential oil contains a unique phytochemical called nootkatone that stimulates the enzymes involved with metabolism, encouraging the body to use up more glucose and burn off fat. One animal study showed that when given grapefruit juice on a high fat diet, subjects gained 18% less weight over a period of 3 months.
Another study found that a key component of grapefruit oil, D-limonene, stimulates lipolysis, a process whereby fat and protein are dissolved by the body, directly supporting metabolism and a reduction in appetite and body weight. Aside from being an excellent appetite suppressant and fat burner, it also helps prevent bloating and water retention in the body.
LEMON ESSENTIAL OIL FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Best for: Metabolism, fat burning, stress, blood sugar levels, appetite suppressant, digestion, gut health, detoxifier.
Another powerful weight loss supporter that contains D-limonene, lemon essential oil is acclaimed for its ability to melt away fat and cholesterol. One study suggested that when combined with grapefruit oil, lemon oil promoted lipolysis, so breaking down body fats and supressing weight gain.
Another study reported that obese mice fed a high-fat diet together with D-limonene resulted in reduced blood glucose levels and positive cholesterol adjustments, suggesting it can both help prevent and treat metabolic syndrome.
One of the best things about lemon oil is that it is a mood booster, lifting the spirits and dispelling anxiety and stress. It helps balance the hormones, increases oxygen supply, and improves blood flow. It’s also a great appetite suppressant and helps eliminate toxins in the body, prevent parasites in the gut, and improve overall digestion.
BERGAMOT ESSENTIAL OIL FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Best for: Stress and anxiety, fat burning, blood sugar levels, appetite suppressant.
If you find that emotional eating when you’re feeling anxious or depressed is undermining your diet, bergamot essential oil helps you avoid snacking during stressful times. A study found that inhaling bergamot oil for 15 minutes boosts your mood and also significantly reduces cortisol, the ‘stress’ hormone. Consistently high levels of cortisol produce excess glucose, leading to increased blood sugar levels that make it difficult to shift stubborn belly fat.
Another citrus oil with high levels of D-limonene, bergamot oil acts as an appetite suppressant, reduces insulin resistance and prevents weight gain. A study found that patients with hyperlipemia (high fat levels in the blood) who were given bergamot were not only able to significantly reduce blood glucose but also cholesterol levels.
Bergamot also naturally contains polyphenols - the same compound found in green tea - which reduces inflammation, and helps stem cravings and hunger pangs.
CINNAMON ESSENTIAL OIL FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Best for: Metabolism, fat burning, blood sugar levels, appetite suppressant, gut health.
Numerous studies suggest cinnamon essential oil is somewhat of an all-round multi-tasker that can play a large part in supporting weight loss efforts. It helps balance blood sugar levels which can lead to over-eating, reduce food cravings, speed up digestion and boost the metabolism.
One study found that it’s particularly effective in regulating blood glucose levels and the glucose tolerance factor (GFT) to help reduce appetite and cravings. Another found that it mimics the effect of insulin that helps move sugar, or glucose, into your body's tissues to use as fuel.
In addition, a study found that cinnamon helps speed up the metabolic process by acting directly on fat cells, prompting them to start burning energy through a process called thermogenesis. And by reducing certain digestive enzymes that slow carbohydrate breakdown, cinnamon can also help improve your gut health.
GINGER ESSENTIAL OIL FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Best for: Inflammation, metabolism, fat burning, blood sugar levels, appetite suppressant, digestion, gut health.
Ginger essential oil is another excellent multi-tasker that works in many different ways to help you lose weight. A review of 27 studies showed that it not only boosts your body’s metabolism and fat burning abilities, but also minimises the amount of fat it absorbs - while at the same time reducing unwanted cravings.
Another review found that ginger significantly decreased body weight and belly fat. It also drastically lowers blood sugars to help curb your appetite. Keeping blood sugars stable is a key to both losing and maintaining weight.
A powerful anti-inflammatory, ginger essential oil contains antioxidants called gingerols that significantly decreases inflammation in the gut, helping food digest faster and stimulate the body to speed up the digestive process so supporting weight loss goals.
PEPPERMINT ESSENTIAL OIL FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Best for: Gut health, digestion, appetite suppressant, stress and anxiety.
Peppermint is the ideal essential oil for those looking to improve their digestive health. Poor digestion is one of the main causes of weight gain. The cooling compound in peppermint, menthol, is excellent for calming an upset stomach, improving digestion, reducing bloating and gas, and can even help combat irritable bowel syndrome.
Peppermint oil is also a very effective appetite suppressant, controlling cravings for sugar and other foods, and so helps curb overeating. A clinical study showed that inhaling peppermint oil every 2 hours is highly effective in reducing appetite and decreasing food cravings. As a result, participants were able to significantly reduce their calorie intake and support their weight loss goals.
Menthol is also known to be muscle relaxant and antispasmodic, so helping you relax amidst feelings of anxiety. Since stress is a known factor in weight gain, peppermint can help calm you down.
LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Best for: Sleep, stress and anxiety, depression, inflammation, blood sugar levels.
It’s a known fact that losing weight is not only about controlling what you eat and how you exercise. Two exceptionally important contributors to being overweight are lack of good quality sleep and a high incidence of stress, anxiety or depression.
These all disrupt a number of hormones which control blood sugar, hunger and appetite that not only trigger episodes of overeating but also make it so much harder for your body to shed those unwanted pounds.
Known as the Queen of Calm, lavender is the go-to essential oil if you want reduce feelings of anger, sadness and anxiety as well as enjoy a good night’s sleep. Many studies support lavender as an excellent natural remedy to treat insomnia and reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
It helps uplift mood, improve sleep quality, and facilitates the secretion “feel good” hormones. This reduces inflammation in the body and also helps prevent weight gain induced by lack of sleep and stress.
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FENNEL ESSENTIAL OIL FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Best for: Metabolism, digestion, fat burning, appetite suppression, circadian rhythm, sleep.
Well known for supporting digestion, improving metabolism, and its ability to suppress the appetite, fennel essential oil also helps regulate sleep/wake cycles (circadian rhythms).
Fennel seeds have been used for centuries to improve digestive health and help curb hunger pangs. A study confirmed that using fennel oil can not only significantly reduce the number of calories consumed but also improve digestion. Fennel oil is also a diuretic and helps remove toxins from the body which can contribute to weight loss.
Fennel also contains melatonin that regulates circadian rhythms and so is often used as a sleep aid. However, a study has shown how melatonin can also positively affect weight loss by creating more good energy burning brown fat, rather than ‘bad’ white fat that is stored.
ROSEMARY ESSENTIAL OIL FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Best for: Metabolism, stress and anxiety, blood sugar levels.
Rich in antioxidants and a natural anti-inflammatory, rosemary essential oil help promote weight loss by significantly reducing cortisol, which increases during times of high stress and anxiety. Consistently high levels of cortisol produce excess glucose, and these elevated blood sugar levels make it difficult to shift stubborn belly fat. High stress levels can also lead to emotional eating and unwanted weight gain.
Sniffing rosemary essential oil for 5 minutes has been found to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol by up to 23%. Another Japanese study also confirmed that rosemary oil is able to decrease cortisol levels.
Rosemary is also naturally rich in carnosic acid, a substance that keeps the pounds off by inhibiting the formation of fat cells. One animal study found that whilst on a high fat diet, rosemary oil reduced weight gain by 64% and fat gain by 57% compared to controls. This was confirmed by another study which found 79% improvement in fat loss.
HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR WEIGHT LOSS
By far the most common way people use an essential oil is just by breathing it in. When you breathe in an essential oil, the evaporating microparticles reach the part of your brain that controls your emotions and behaviour within a matter of seconds.
However, you can also use a diffuser, add them to your bath or shower, or apply the oil directly onto your skin pretty much anywhere on your body – just avoid getting too close to your eyes, ears or broken skin. Essential oils applied to the skin are also rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream.
It’s best that you keep switching the essential oils inhaled daily so that your body doesn’t not get too used to them, and you keep reaping their benefits on an ongoing basis.
As essential oils are very potent, if you’re unsure about how to use them, it’s best familiarize yourself with all the best practices before you start.
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If you have any medical condition, please consult with your health care professional before you use essential oils. Before using an essential oil on your skin, always do a patch test on the inside of your upper arm for 24 hours to check for any reactions.
As essential oils are potent, please do not apply anywhere too close to your eyes. Apply to the temples or cheeks, or sniff directly out of the bottle. They quickly permeate your skin and body and get to work within minutes.
Ensure that you always use top quality essential oils. There's a difference between an essential oil and simply an oil, which is basically a perfume. If a label does not clearly state that it is an 'essential oil,' then it is not a pure oil and should not be used as suggested.