The Importance of Sleep and Weight Loss

Diet and exercise may be the two most important factors for weight loss, but did you know getting enough sleep is critical as well?

Imagine two of your friends. One is the model of physical fitness, and the other is a little on the heavy side. What stumps you is that they seem to have the same approach to diet and exercise:

  • They both eat lean protein and vegetables.
  • They both steer clear of unhealthy foods.
  • They both exercise three days a week.

So why are the results so different? While many factors could be at play – including genetics, willpower and poor training techniques – sleep deprivation is a likely factor for the friend who can’t seem to achieve the body she wants.

Sleep Affects Fat Loss

According to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, dieters on different sleep schedules lose weight in different ways. In the study, one group was allowed to sleep 8.5 hours per night. With adequate rest, half of the weight this group lost was from fat.

The other group was restricted to 5.5 hours of sleep per night. In addition to feeling hungrier, less satisfied after meals, and less motivation to exercise, this group lost less fat and more lean body mass compared to the well-rested group.

Sleep Alters Insulin Resistance

With normal insulin production, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from the bloodstream, preventing them from being stored. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation causes your body’s insulin resistance to rise. According to researchers at the University of Chicago, this encourages more fatty acids to circulate through your bloodstream and pump out more insulin. Eventually, the excess insulin begins storing fat, leading to weight gain and increasing your risk for type 2 diabetes.

Lack of Sleep Increases Hunger and Cravings

Fighting cravings is about more than pure willpower. It’s about moderating the production of your hunger hormones known as leptin and ghrelin.

  • Leptin is produced in fat cells. When production goes down, your hunger level rises.
  • Ghrelin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract. When production goes up, so does your hunger level. In anticipation of a famine, your metabolism also slows and fat stores increase.

According to research in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, sleeping less than six hours depresses leptin and stimulates ghrelin production, increasing your hunger level as a result. Sleep deprivation also amplifies levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which activates the reward centers of your brain that make you crave food. At the same time, lack of sleep impairs frontal lobe activity, decreasing your mental capacity to resist cravings. No wonder sleep deprivation destroys diets!

Clearly, it’s important to get enough shut-eye if you want to maximize your diet and exercise efforts while you’re awake. It’s also critical to participate in an effective weight loss program to see the results you want. To learn more about the convenient, supportive programs available at LeanMD, please contact us at one of our locations near you in California, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, or Oregon and schedule an appointment today.

Categories: Weight Loss
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*Specific results are not guaranteed and are a result of the individual customized weight loss plan for each patient, along with exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes.