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How Can Melatonin Stimulate Your Weight Loss?

7 mins read
Mariia Roza
Written by Mariia Roza on May 18, 2021
Stephanie Beaudette, M.Ed., RDN
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Melatonin is a hormone that affects the sleep-wake cycle in your body, and for this reason, it influences multiple processes in your body. But can it help you lose fat? Studies show that it is possible! See below how it happens and what you should do to increase melatonin production in your body.

Table of content

What is melatonin, and how it affects your circadian rhythms?

Melatonin is produced by a pineal gland in your brain and released into the bloodstream when night falls. It is a hormone that conducts your circadian rhythm, an internal 24-hour clock, that tells your body when it should fall asleep and when it should wake up. As melatonin disbalance frequently leads to sleep disruptions, the pharmaceutical analog of this hormone is often prescribed as a sleep aid. As melatonin supplements are sold out-the-counter in the USA, their use by Americans is enormous. Almost three million adults and half a million kids take melatonin.

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Melatonin supplements are also popular among athletes who take them to improve their performance, body composition, and muscle recovery. Though scientists sometimes dispute the safety of long-term melatonin use, there is no reliable scientific evidence proving that melatonin supplements have serious side effects or decrease the natural production of melatonin by subjects who take them.

Explanation on how melatonin works
Explanation on how melatonin works

The effect of melatonin on weight loss

One of the studies showing the efficiency of melatonin for weight loss was conducted on postmenopausal women. Its results were published in 2015 in Clinical Endocrinology. This randomized placebo-controlled trial (the best of the best in the world of science) analyzed the women’s body composition. It showed a decrease in fat percentage among melatonin-takers by 6,9% compared to placebo users and increased lean body mass by 2,6%. In addition to that, studies show a significant rise in adiponectin levels among melatonin-takers by 21%. Adiponectin is essential for body weight as it is a protein hormone that affects fat burning.

Melatonin regulates insulin secretion

Studies show that melatonin influences insulin secretion, controls insulin sensitivity during day hours, and provides insulin resistance during night hours. Correct insulin response to sugars you consume is crucial for maintaining a normal weight. Uncontrolled insulin resistance can lead to the situation when body cells are incapable of consuming sugars, which results in sugars storage as fat and a person still feeling tired and hungry even after a large meal. Insulin resistance inevitably leads to weight gain. 

Melatonin stimulates muscle regeneration

Research published in the Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism journal has demonstrated multiple benefits of melatonin supplements for resistance-trained athletes. Scientists believe that the better regeneration of athletes and the protective effect of melatonin on skeletal muscle is due to its antioxidant effect. As this hormone helps fight oxidative stress, it is also efficient in battling oxidations due to the high intensity of physical exercise.

Melatonin can stimulate fat burning

One of the reviews of melatonin, energy metabolism, and obesity, we’ve referred to earlier, as well as other studies demonstrate that melatonin can stimulate the transition of white fat cells into “beige” or “brown” fat cells. The thing is, white adipocytes store fat, while brown adipocytes give energy easier and are known to regulate energy expenditure. The reason behind this phenomenon is that “brown” adipocytes mitochondria express protein responsible for using fat as a source of energy that generates heat.

Other benefits of melatonin

  • As a potent antioxidant, melatonin has anti-inflammatory effects and protects the body from oxidative stress.
  • Melatonin improves skin condition. Experimental studies have shown its anti-aging effect. It protects the skin from oxidative stress, namely solar damage of ultraviolet radiation.
  • Protecting the neurons, melatonin regulates brain aging.
  • Melatonin can be a potential treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Some studies state that melatonin might help to treat breast cancer.
  • Melatonin is a great helper for people who have insomnia, jet lag, and other sleep disorders.

Melatonin side effects

A possible side effect of taking melatonin, even for a short period, is sleepiness during day hours and irritability. Less frequent side effects are reduced libido and headaches. Some patients taking melatonin as a supplement also reported cases of dizziness, nausea, and stomach cramps.

As there is n long-term research on melatonin supplement consumption, healthcare providers should not prescribe melatonin over prolonged periods. You should always consult your doctor before increasing the dosage or the time of taking melatonin.

Foods and activities that promote melatonin production

Remember that melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by your body. This means you can increase its quantity by making small changes in your lifestyle rather than buying supplements right away!

Food that promotes melatonin production
Food that promotes melatonin production

Here are some recommendations on how you can naturally increase your level of melatonin:

  • Eat food that contains melatonin. There are multiple dietary sources of melatonin identified and qualified in various foods from fungi to animals and plants. The best 6 of them are: nuts (especially pistachios and almonds), tart cherries, eggs, Goji berries, milk (that’s why warm milk is a traditional remedy for insomnia) and fish.
  • Get enough sun exposure. Sunlight boosts the production of serotonin, the melatonin precursor. What’s more, melatonin production is also linked to melanin secretion in the skin, which is possible only through UV exposure.
  • Be physically active. Melatonin and physical activity are intertwined, with one influencing the other and vice versa. Scientists state, though, that intense training before bedtime won’t be that efficient for a good night’s sleep; moreover, it can decrease melatonin production.
  • Turn off the light and lower the temperature. Our bodies know that warm and light mean daytime, and dark and cold means nighttime. To stimulate melatonin release into the bloodstream, turn off or dim the light a couple of hours before going to bed and lower the temperature in your bedroom by several degrees.

Correlation between night’s sleep and overeating

There is a scientifically proven link between sleep deprivation and obesity. Half an hour of sleep deprivation results in additional 84 calories consumed the following day. This is partially explained by the hormonal imbalance and the stimulation of ghrelin synthesis, which happens both when you lack sleep and when your stomach is empty. Sleep and exercise can decrease ghrelin levels and suppress hunger. 

In addition to that, when you lack sleep, you happen to be less productive during the day, performing fewer movements and decreasing your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). It goes without saying that you’re less motivated to go to the gym when your only desire is to get some sleep.

Six simple rules to follow for a good night’s rest

Though they can be consumed to improve your sleep and treat sleep disorders, melatonin supplements would never be as efficient as a good night’s sleep. Here are some obvious but often forgotten rules you should consider to have a better rest and, consequently, increase your melatonin production. 

Rules for good sleep
Rules for good sleep

1. Make a cozy place to sleep

Clean bedsheets, a comfortable pillow, and a blanket chosen according to the season and temperature in your room will all add to your good night’s sleep. Choose a convenient mattress and analyze what positions during sleep make you feel rested the next day. 

2. Don’t take your phone to bed

It doesn’t matter why you’ve taken your gadget to the bedroom: To answer work emails or watch an episode from your favorite series! In the end, you might end up scrolling an infinite social media timeline or watching pointless videos on YouTube. What’s more, your phone doesn’t only distract you from falling asleep; it is also a source of light, which slows down the release of melatonin into your bloodstream.

3. Skip dinner coffee

It might seem to you that beverages with caffeine, like strong tea, energy drinks, and coffee, don’t affect your rest, and you still easily fall asleep after a cup of cappuccino. However, caffeine influence the quality of your sleep even if you don’t notice it. It stimulates your central nervous system and makes your night’s rest less efficient.

4. Calm down before going to bed

You can do so by taking a shower, drinking some herbal tea, or meditating. What you shouldn’t do is watch action-packed movies, read thrilling books, or argue with your family. 

5. Let some fresh air in

Aerate your bedroom even if it’s winter outside. Even though researchers state that sleeping in cold-to-medium-temperature premises is better for your health, youthfulness, and melatonin production, you should always opt for what is more convenient for you.

6. Turn off the noises

Having a good rest might be problematic if your neighbors are too noisy or if your spouse snores. Use ear muffs to turn off the noises when you go to bed or try “white noise” sounds. These are soothing sounds moms use for their kids to hide external distractors. 

Summing up

Melatonin is a “dark hormone” that conducts the circadian rhythm in your body. It is essential for a good night’s rest. It improves the quality of sleep and has multiple health benefits. Melatonin has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects. This partially explains how it stimulates muscle regeneration among athletes.

Multiple studies show that melatonin can also help you lose weight. It decreases the fat percentage and increases the lean muscle mass percentage in the body. Melatonin is also demonstrated to stimulate the production of “brown” fat cells that burn rather than store energy. It regulates insulin and other hormone production and increases adiponectin synthesis. 

Even though millions of people all over the US take melatonin as a supplement daily, there are multiple simple tools that can help you naturally stimulate melatonin synthesis. 

Article updated: July 12, 2022 

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Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.

Sources:

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