Sleep…It Does a Diet Good


sleep1Without a doubt, the number one resolution every New Year centers on the goal of losing weight. Unfortunately nearly 90% of those who start a program of weight loss (even though their hearts are in it) will suffer defeat and in the end just give up. Some even experience weight gain. It’s no wonder, after putting heart and soul into their goals and experiencing weight gain that they just give up. Gaining weight when you are trying to lose is a definite motivation killer.

So, what’s going on? It seems no matter how hard you work at it you simply cannot lose the weight you want or achieve the body you dream about. 

Emphasis is naturally turned to “what have I done wrong” and immediately the focus goes to what you are eating or what kind of exercising you are doing. You discover that you are doing things correctly…eating meals that contain lean protein and healthy fresh vegetables. You are exercising three or more times per week using both cardio and weights and you are totally aware of what foods are healthy and stay away from the ones that are processed and full of chemicals.

Seems like the perfect plan right? So, why isn’t it working?

There is one very important element to weight loss that is so often overlooked and in the end is the reason for many failed diets and that one thing is “sleep.”

You’ve been so busy trying to live a healthy life, eating nutrient dense foods, working and exercising you’ve forgotten to get enough sleep not realizing that sleep is the very catalyst to your weight loss success.

Believe it or not, statistics prove that as much as 35% of people are sleep deprived. When you connect this stat with the fact that nearly 35% of people are obese, the connection becomes obvious.

According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, not getting the proper amount of sleep…getting less than the required 7- 8 hours per night, can completely undo or severely reduce the benefits of any diet. When participants in a study were given adequate amounts of sleep, the weight they experienced was lost from fat. However, when sleep time was cut back to half…even though they made no dietary changes, the amount of fat lost was cut in half. Not only that, but they also experienced more hunger pangs, felt less satisfied after eating and worst of all…lacked energy to exercise properly.

We’ve all experienced nights when we could not sleep for one reason or another and the next day our otherwise clear minds felt fuzzy and disoriented even to the point of being cranky and grumpy at times we would otherwise be patient and kind. All because of sleep deprivation.

The University of Chicago even coined a name for it…”metabolic grogginess.”

One night of “bad sleep” doesn’t seem all that bad does it? A few more cups of coffee and you’ll be just fine…at least that’s what you want to convince yourself of.

You might be able to fool yourself…but you can’t fool the hormones that control your fat cells. All it takes is 4 nights of continuous sleep deprivation and the body’s ability to use the master storage hormone insulin properly becomes completely out of whack and insulin sensitivity drops to 30%.

Insulin is needed to allow fat cells to remove fatty acids and lipids from your blood and prevent them from being stored. However, when you become insulin resistant these same fats circulate in the blood stream and continue to pump out more insulin. All this does is produce excess insulin which ends up storing fat in tissue like your liver eventually making you fat and non-resistant to diseases like diabetes.

Insulin is just one of the hormones that is disrupted by lack of sleep. Leptin is the hormone that is produced in your fat cells; the less your produce, the more your stomach feels empty. Ghrelin, is the hormone that simulates hunger. The more you produce, the more your hunger is stimulated but the amount of calories you burn is decreased and the fat you store is increased…not a good equation.

If that’s not all bad enough, when you are sleep deprived, your cortisol levels rise. Cortisol is the hormone associated with stress and frequently the cause of fat gain. The combination of high cortisol along with high ghrelin mess with the areas of your brain that communicate to you that you are satisfied after eating and therefore you stay hungry. The damaging effects of that are obvious to anyone trying to diet.

Bottom line is this…you cannot successfully lose weight without controlling and balancing your hormones but sleep deprivation disrupts that pattern and makes it nearly impossible. So it seems that sleep is the key to it all.

You may not like to diet or eliminate foods that are bad for you but you do it anyway…for your body and your health. You may not like exercising, but you do it because you know the benefits it provides your body and immune system. But, there are few people I know that would say they don’t appreciate a good night’s sleep…so this is one element of dieting that everyone can enjoy and is in fact mandatory to dieting success.

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