Is there a connection between weight gain and low serotonin level? You bet! Serotonin—commonly referred to as the happy hormone—not only regulates mood, it’s also our body’s natural appetitesuppressant. According to scientists, serotonin helps curb cravings, boost energy level, minimize the urges to snack, and keep you feeling fuller for longer. The end result—continuous weight loss!
Unfortunately, serotonin is only produced by the brain when we eat starchy or sweet carbohydrates. And as you know, most sweet and starchy things are extremely fattening.
Tryptophan—which is the building block of the serotonin hormone—is released into the brain after consuming sweet or starchy carbohydrates. Although tryptophan is also found in all protein, tryptophan in protein does not enter the barrier from the blood to the brain. Why? Because tryptophan in protein is competing with amino acids, the building block of protein. So how do you boost serotonin level in the body and improve energy level without packing on the pounds? Consider these tips:
Choosethe Right Carbs
Carbs aren’t all that bad; the right kind will not only help boost serotonin in the brain, it could also aid in weight loss. Tryptophan is transported to the brain with the help of carbohydrates;that increases the chances of it being converted to serotonin.
Ideally, you want to eat low-glycemic carbs like whole grains, barley, buckwheat, oats, sweet potatoes, and yams. These types of starchy foods are rich in complex carbohydrates that increase serotonin in the brain, yielding quick energy to the body while being low on calories!
Eat Tryptophan-Rich Proteins
Certain types of protein contain high levels of tryptophan. Lean meat, poultry, fish, and low-fat milk are all excellent sources of tryptophan. Legumes also contain high level of tryptophan, which is synthetized in the brain as serotonin.
Stop Taking Stimulants
Stimulants are taken when you want to boost your mental focus and stamina as well as improve your mood temporarily. Although your mood will improve by taking stimulants, the after-effects could produce a deeper low. When the serotonin from the stimulant drops sharply in the brain, it could cause irritation, lethargy, and fatigue.
Caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and recreational drugs are some ofthe common stimulants used to temporarily uplift the mood. If you want to avoid serotonin level from declining sharply in the body, avoid all types of stimulants.
A Good Night’s Sleep
A good night’s sleep is an effective way of boosting the serotonin level and gives you energy throughout the day! By sleeping at the right time, your body “trains” itself to recognize when to release serotonin. As the body relaxes, the level of cortisol—stress hormone—drops.This minimizes anxiety, weariness, and depression.
Stress hormones tend to disrupt the effects of happy hormones. As long as the stress hormone level is low, then serotonin will take full effect in the brain!
You’ve heard how exercising releases happy hormones in the brain. This is true! All forms of exercises help boost serotonin and energy level. You can do light exercises every day and still reap the benefits of the happy hormone.
Exercising also triggers the brain to release dopamine and endorphins. Dopamine helps uplift the mood while endorphin serves as the body’s natural pain killer! We recommend avoiding high-intensity workouts, especially if you’re not accustomed to such a strict program. High-intensity workouts tend to trigger the release of cortisol in the body.