Sleep can be the ultimate game changer in your weight loss plan. Find out how…
Do you know anyone who doesn’t want a flat tummy, slimmer waist, enviable calf muscles, well-toned arms or a sculpted jawline? Achieving these fitness goals may have been on your agenda for months, even years now. There are many who want all this. Yet not many take any action to actually get them. Maybe you are one of those few who actually took some action – you worked on your exercise routine, perhaps got a personal trainer, made sure you ate all the right things in the right quantities. You stayed away from junk. You worked out. You even managed to stay active throughout the day. You followed this with zeal for a few months.
And you find yourself in front of a mirror. You are looking fitter. More toned. There is definitely some weight loss. Your clothes are fitting much better.
The results are not quite what you had expected.
For the amount of work and discipline you had, you feel you deserved much better than what was staring back at you from that mirror.
What went wrong?
It’s quite possible you missed out on one critical, secret ingredient.
No. It’s not some exotic fruit from deep inside the amazon rain forest. Or some miracle new supplement that very few have heard about.
That special ingredient is Sleep.
Experts say giving yourself up to enough quality deep slumber every night will accelerate fat loss and encourage muscle mass.
There was a study conducted on overweight individuals to find out the effects of reduced sleep on their overall weight. Two groups of people were put on a calorie deficit diet. The group that slept 8 hours or more each night lost 55% more weight than the people who slept just 5 to 6 hours. In another study researchers found that adults who slept less than 5 hours increased their risk of obesity by 40% in comparison to adults who slept for 7-8 hours each night.
Sleep is a powerful aid to weight loss.
This seems truly counter-intuitive. Sleep aids weight loss? One can understand exercise, nutrition, a cleaner, greener lifestyle could help you shed kilos. But sleep? Most people would argue saying sleep would make you put on weight… and they would be wrong.
Sleep is turning out to be an almost magical weight loss aid. Here are the reasons I feel sleep contributes to helping you get toned and in the best shape of your life.
Sleep helps you make healthier food choices
It’s 5 am. You have an early morning flight to catch. You’re surviving on 4 hours of sleep – feeling zombified. You plod to the nearest coffee shop to feel more awake. And order a large latte. When you’re paying up for the coffee, your eyes fall on a gorgeous, double chocolate pastry. Your mouth’s watering already!
Your brain tells you, “You woke up so early, you deserve this cake. Go on, reward yourself.”
You get that piece of cake, and hungrily gorge it down with the latte.
And with that one decision, every other food choice you make on that day takes your carefully planned diet plummeting downhill. Strangely, on that day you may find yourself parroting, “I want to eat something yummy (read junk)”
Experiencing a deja vu?
When you go to bed that night, you feel horrible about the unreasonable amounts of junk you’ve eaten. And berate your willpower.
But in reality, your willpower had very little to do with your food choices.
It was the lack of sufficient sleep that was the actual culprit. It was sleep deprivation that “forced” you to indulge.
The secret to making better decisions – about food, and otherwise, begin with a good night’s sleep.
Have you noticed – the days you’ve slept well and enough, you will automatically choose to eat healthy. You have little to no temptation to reach out for all those highly processed foods such as colas, chips, burgers etc. Even when such foods are boldly displayed in front of you.
You simply don’t have the urge to junk. It is proper sleep that acts as a catalyst and helps you effortlessly make better choices and those choices are not limited to just food. You will tend to make better choices in general. Life becomes and feels easier. We’ve covered this at great length in our book Sleep Your Way to Success.
Sleep governs your food choices – and most people simply don’t know this.
To scientifically understand this phenomenon, research was conducted on women between the age of 18-55. These women normally slept for 7-9 hours every night, and had no sleep disorders. But as a part of the research, their sleep was reduced to between 5 and a half to 6 hours for a few nights. It was observed that in day time their hunger levels shot up and they ate more. These women felt more tired than usual. And to make matters worse, they didn’t simply eat more, they had intense cravings for high-calorie foods. Less sleep ultimately led to weight gain.
The fastest way to cripple the most promising weight loss regime is by giving into junk food cravings. Add Sleep into the mix and the cravings will vanish.
Sleep Turbocharges your Metabolism
Metabolism is a chemical process that converts what we eat and drink into energy. Sluggish metabolism means fewer calories burnt, and higher fat storage. Whereas proper metabolism will speed up calorie burning making it that much easier to lose weight.
All of us are have drastically different metabolic rates, which are mostly a function of your gut biome. And that’s a topic for another post. For now, you will see how this explains why some people can literally eat anything and have no weight gain. And others find it truly difficult to lose weight, even if they are eating clean, green and healthy.
Here are two things to do to improve the metabolic activity of your body.
When you exercise or engage the body in physical activity, your body uses energy. And in return – generously spends calories instead of storing fat. Walking, going to the gym, swimming for 45 minutes to an hour each day are tremendously beneficial. For every 45 minutes you are sitting, get up and walk about for 10 to 15 minutes through the day.
When you are get enough sleep, your body maintains an optimum metabolic rate. This not only makes it easier to shed extra weight, it even prevents you from gaining it.
In 2019 there was a study done on 15 healthy men for 10 days to determine the effect of poor sleep on metabolism. As a part of the study, these men were given a high-calorie dinner of mac and cheese (yummy!) for four consecutive nights. And they were allowed to sleep for not more than 5 hours on those nights.
Their blood samples were collected to determine the metabolic response. The blood reports revealed that during those nights of sleep deprivation – their metabolic health weakened. Due to insufficient sleep, it became difficult for the body to break down fat into energy. This led to significantly increased fat colonies in the body. Whereas when these men slept deeply and sufficiently, the body’s ability to convert fat into energy improved.
This research clearly states that getting enough sleep turbo charges the body’s fat to energy conversion. This helps you feel energized and in time develop that lean look. Lack of enough good quality sleep prompts your body to hoard fat cells. Sleep deprivation shoots up your body’s cortisol levels. Cortisol is the “stress” hormone and when the body feels stressed it hoards even more fat.
Just exercise and a healthy diet is not enough to move the needle towards that great body you would love to have. Maintaining a fixed bedtime and wake up time and 8 to 9 hours of sleep – even on weekends contributes far more to accelerating your metabolism than you could imagine.
Sleep Controls your Appetite
You’ve eaten a full meal. You’re full to the brim. You’re sure this will easily keep you full for at least the next 3 hours. But… within an hour you find yourself suddenly wanting more food. You even ask yourself, “How could I be hungry again? I just ate!”
These incessant hunger pangs are an outcome of your appetite-controlling hormones being mischievous.
The two hormones that control your hunger are Ghrelin and Leptin.
Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, is released in the stomach. The core function of this hormone is to stimulate hunger. Leptin is generated by fat cells and brings on the feeling of being satiated.
When you sleep enough, the production of these two hormones is correctly regulated. This creates an equilibrium between appetite and satiation – a conducive environment to health – and of course keeping the weight off.
When you skimp on sleep, Ghrelin levels increase and Leptin levels reduce. This double whammy makes you feel abnormally hungry at frequent intervals. And you will notice that you will mainly be craving sugary junk. Result – Fat in all the wrong places.
On top of that, the days you’ve not slept well – you’ll have little to no motivation to workout, because of lack of energy. All those excess calories that you’ve consumed won’t be burned. You get even more fat building up.
To discover the effects of short sleep, nocturnal polysomnography (a sleep study) was done on 1024 participants. These participants were put on a restricted sleep schedule. When these participants’ blood samples were collected the next morning, the results indicated that their
- Ghrelin levels shot up
- Leptin levels dropped
- Body Mass Index (BMI) increased
- Chances of getting obese heightened
Enough good quality Sleep turns out to be the key player to stabilize the delicate seesaw between Leptin and Ghrelin, You want to lose weight and keep it off? You will have to nurture a lifelong friendship with enough deep sleep. Like any relationship that matters, there may be compromises. You may have to say no to late night partying for example. There might be a lot of FOMO, at least to begin with. But this one decision will enrich your life immeasurably. Eventually all those people who you wanted to party with will jealously look at you and wonder how you manage to stay in such good shape.
Don’t make the mistake of taking this relationship with sleep for granted though. The consequences are dire, and don’t stop at just putting on a few kilos. Chronic sleep deprivation can create all sorts of unpleasant health challenges.
To sum it up, enough good quality sleep
- allows you make towards wise and healthy choices – about food and other stuff in general as well
- improves your metabolic activity
- controls your appetite and hunger pangs
Always remember sleeping well is the foundation of health – and weight loss. Sleeping well is fundamental to success.
A few other benefits of sleep in relationship to weight loss include
Sleep reduces stress hormones.
Sleep increases energy levels (Obviously!).
Sleep helps the body to repair and recover from exercise.
Sleep aids in detoxification.
Sleep improves brain function.
Sleep reduces inflammation – This one is a biggie and we will do another post exploring it in more detail.
If you’re someone who wants to further unravel the magical secrets of sleep, then here is something exciting for you. Dinesh and I are creating an online Power of Sleep Workshop, a wonderful opportunity to dive deeper into the magical world of sleep. We will explore all the benefits of sleep and how to ensure you get 7 star quality sleep. Click here to join the waitlist for the workshop. You will be the first to know about it, and get a great discount too.
Dinesh and I are on a mission to empower 1 million people to harness the awesome power of sleep to dramatically improve the quality of their lives. Join us!