You're putting in the time at the gym and eating meals that are full of lean protein and veggies, yet the scale still won't budge. Maybe it's your genes. Maybe you're being too lazy in your workouts. Maybe you lack willpower. Or maybe, diet and exercise aren't the real problem. Have you considered your sleep?
SLEEP CONTROLS YOUR DIET
Between working, exercising, food prepping, and all of your other life responsibilities, you may have forgotten to get adequate sleep. Or, maybe, you didn't realize that sleep is the key to seeing the payoff from your diet and exercise routine. According to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night can reduce and even undo the benefits of dieting altogether. In this study, the participants were put on different sleep schedules, yet they ate and drank only what was given to them, and the amount of calories was restricted so that weight loss would occur. The researchers found that the participants who slept less than 5.5 hours at night loss less body fat and more lean body mass than when they slept 8.5 hours. The participants on restricted sleep also reported feeling hungrier! Have you ever made poor food choices when tired? I know I have! To all the parents out there who've ever been sleep-deprived, or to anyone who has had a restless night, I've been there!
Additionally, the lack of rest makes us crave food! Leptin and ghrelin are hormones produced by our bodies that assist in regulating hunger. Many people believe that hunger is all about willpower, but really it's these 2 hormones that play the largest role. These hormones need to be controlled by our bodies if we want to lose weight. However, sleep deprivation makes that next to impossible. And don't forget about the stress hormone, Cortisol. When we don't get adequate sleep, our cortisol levels rise, which is often associated with weight gain.
INADEQUATE SLEEP CHANGES YOUR FAT CELLS
When we get little sleep, we wake up feeling super groggy, and that is how our body feels as well. After just 4 days of poor sleep, your body becomes unable to properly utilize insulin (storage hormone). It can no longer remove fatty acids and lipids from your bloodstream and prevent storage. Instead, the insulin stores fat. Not what we want if we are trying to lose or even maintain our weight! So, what can we do? Sleep, sleep, and then sleep some more!
PRIORITIZING SLEEP: A FEW HELPFUL TIPS
1. Exercise regularly, but not sooner than 3 hours prior to going to bed.
2. Avoid caffeine or alcohol (most days) in the late afternoon and evening.
3. Don't go to bed feeling hungry, but also don't eat a large meal just as your preparing for bed. Eat your dinner earlier or just have a small snack (lean protein/little fat) if you're hungry before bed.
4. Establish relaxing pre-bedtime rituals (warm bath, reading, etc.) and avoid social media/TV before bed.
5. If you have difficulty sleeping at night, avoid napping during the nap.
6. If you can't sleep, don't stay in bed stressing. If you're still awake after 30 minutes, go to a different room and involve yourself in a relaxing, non-stimulating activity until you feel tired.
Disclaimer: Results may vary. These are my opinions and statements based on the latest, educated research and are not to be intended to replace the advice of your doctor. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Fueled and Fit Wellness are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service.
Bornstein, Adam. “Why Sleep Is More Important Than We Ever Thought.” Shape Magazine, Shape Magazine, 28 Nov. 2017, www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/why-sleep-no-1-most-important-thing-better-body.
Nedeltcheva, Dr. et al. “Insufficient Sleep, Diet, and Obesity.” Annals of Internal Medicine, vol. 153, no. 7, 2010, doi:10.7326/0003-4819-153-7-201010050-00002.