by Coach Lindsay Leigh
What does sleep have to do with weight loss, you ask? Well, a lot actually! And, more than one-third of Americans are not getting enough.
When you’re low on sleep you may be more likely to reach for food for a pick up, crave junk food, have less impulse control, or skip your workout. Additionally, sleep is the #1 recovery tool for athletes – so we can diminish our performance if we don’t get adequate rest.
Skimping on sleep impairs the frontal lobe of the brain’s activity, which controls impulse and decision making. Being overtired also makes the brain’s reward center more sensitive, so you may crave comfort foods or the sugary pick me up.
One study found that when people were low on their 40 winks, late-night snacking increased and they were more likely to eat high-carb foods (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition). In another study, sleep deprived participants chose snacks with twice as much fat compared to those who slept at least 8 hours (University of Chicago).
Cortisol Increases & Lack of Sleep
The stress hormone, cortisol, will also spike when you’re lacking adequate sleep. This hormone tells the body to conserve energy instead of burning it, which will make the body hang onto fat. In one study, when participants cut back on sleep over a 2 week period, the amount of weight they lost from fat decreased by 55% even though their calories stayed the same. They also felt hungrier and less satisfied after meals.
How many Zzzzzs do I need?
Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, but if you are training hard, as most endurance athletes are, you will need closer to the 9 hour range for your body to recover optimally. As a general rule, if you wake up tired, you aren’t getting enough hours!
Prioritize sleep – it will help you perform your best physically and mentally and also help you reach your weight loss goals.
Need help with your daily nutrition and hydration needs? Consider our Nutrition Coaching, with a 10-week program to help you dial in your needs to optimal performance and health.