The Importance of Sleep for Fat Loss

16th May * 2 min read

We can all relate to what it feels like when we have a restless night’s sleep and how we struggle to get through the day without it. Anything can affect us having a good night’s sleep however it is worth giving a thought on how a poor night’s sleep can affect your athletic performance and also your fat loss goals.

Research shows that not sleeping enough each night can affect and undo the benefits of dieting and clean eating. Think about the last night you had a poor night’s sleep… think about how you felt when you woke up… and think about how you felt during the day. It’s not just your brain, body or mood that feels tired and grumpy, your fat cells will too. When your body is deprived of sleep, the body suffers from a term called metabolic grogginess. Sure you can have a cup of coffee to give you a boost, but the body’s hormones don’t respond in the same way. When the body is tired and deprived of sleep, insulin sensitivity is lowered.

When the body’s insulin is working well, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from the blood stream and prevent fat storage. However, when the body becomes less sensitive to insulin, more insulin is secreted from the pancreas. This excess insulin leads to fat being stored in all of the wrong places, for example, the liver via a process called lipogenesis.

There is further science to sleep deprivation and fat loss. Leptin and ghrelin are two hormones linked to the body’s fat cells. The more of these that are produced, the more your stomach feels empty while ghrelin has a knock on effect on the number of calories you burn. If that isn’t enough, a lack of sleep also causes an increase in cortisol levels, the stress hormone that is associated with fat gain, in particular around the stomach. Ghrelin and cortisol combined shuts down areas of the brain that leaves you satisfied after a meal, which could cause you to over eat… we could almost associate this with the day after a night out – the tiredness and lack of sleep usually causes us to over eat and also make poor choices regarding what foods to eat. Therefore, sleep is vital not only for your brain to function but also to help control and manage optimal hormonal functioning which in turn helps with weight management and also fat loss.

Less calories in and more calories out is the simple fat loss equation. However, it is not as simple as it seems. A lack of sleep is the enemy of muscle and research shows that sleep deprivation can cause a decrease in protein synthesis. Why is this important? Well, protein is your building blocks for lean muscle. The general rule is, the more lean muscle we have the easier it is for fat loss.

You might reconsider that early night now!

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