If you've ever considered taking melatonin to provide you with a good night's sleep, researchers have discovered a different benefit to what's become a popular insomnia remedy. Melatonin can boost weight loss by inducing fat burning, reported the Huffington Post on Dec. 19.
"New research indicates that the sleep hormone melatonin may encourage weight loss, by increasing the presence of a particular kind of fat that actually helps burn energy," explained Dr. Michael J. Breus, author of "The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan: Simple Rules for Losing Weight While You Sleep."
The type of fat that burns energy rather than storing it is "beige fat," which researchers identified as a new type of fat (they previously discovered that "brown fat" also burns more fat). Melatonin boosts the presence of beige fat after six weeks of melatonin supplementation, reported the researchers.
In addition, melatonin can improve the quality and quantity of your sleep, says Dr. Breus. And that, in turn, can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of conditions such as diabetes.
"Sleep remains an underrated tool in the weight-management arsenal. A regular routine of sufficient, high-quality sleep can make a real difference in the ability to maintain a healthy weight, and can help to reduce the risks of serious health problems, including Type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders," he explained.
Moreover, the team of researchers from Spain and Texas discovered that melatonin increases sensitivity to the thermogenic benefits of both cold and exercise. By triggering an increased sensitivity, melatonin boosts the metabolism and causes the body to burn even more fat.
These findings, according to Dr. Breus, enhance previous studies showing that the popular supplement can provide health benefits ranging from blood sugar control to reduced blood pressure.
However, he emphasizes that it's too soon to start using melatonin as a daily diet supplement.
Instead, Dr. Breus suggests incorporating natural forms of melatonin into your diet, including nuts such as almonds and walnuts, sunflower seeds, tart cherries, tomatoes and fennel, as well as the spices cardamom and coriander.