We have talked a few times in the past regarding how important sleep is to your overall health and in reaching your weight loss goals. And I want to recap that topic just a little bit.
We know that the simple equation for weight loss or gain is calories in vs calories out. IF you want to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. If you want to gain weight you need to create a calorie excess. One thing this simple equation does not take into account is hormones.
The minimum recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7 hours. You may feel like you need more or less, however research shows that 7 hours is optimal for keeping hormones in balance, specifically cortisol, insulin, leptin and ghrelin
Too little sleep triggers a cortisol spike. This hormone, related to stress signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours, in other words hang on to fat.
Insulin is the master storage hormone. Just 4 days of irregular sleep patterns or insufficient sleep can cause insulin levels to get all out of whack. Why is this bad? When insulin is at proper levels, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from the blood and prevent storage. Excess insulin leads to storing fat in all the wrong places.
Leptin and ghrelin are the hunger hormones. When you get insufficient sleep these two hormones are thrown off balance resulting in what many consider loss of will power when dieting. Leptin is produced by fat cells. The less leptin they produce the more your stomach feels empty. Ghrelin stimulates hunger while also reducing the number of calories you burn and increasing fat storage.
In short you need to control leptin and ghrelin to lose weight, and that is nearly impossible if you are not getting enough sleep.
Lack of sleep also impacts your workouts. Having muscle on your body is important no matter your fitness goals. Muscle is the enemy of fat, it helps you burn fat. But lack of sleep is the enemy of muscles. Sleep deficit leads to a decreased ability to make muscle, causes muscle loss and can lead to injury.
Poor sleep means less slow wave sleep which is when most growth hormone is released. As mentioned before this also causes a rise in cortisol which also slows production of growth hormone. This creates a very bad environment for muscle growth and recovery.
In short, if you are having trouble meeting your weight loss or weight gain goals, but you feel your diet and exercise are on point and you are doing everything right. Maybe it’s time to step back and examine your sleep habits. Are you getting enough sleep to keep your hormones in check?
Until next time, Eat Healthy, Exercise regularly and get your sleep.
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