Expert Explains How Sleeping Can Be Your Best Weight Loss Tool!

Feb 14, 2022, 21:59 IST

Weight Loss

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When it comes to losing weight, most people are busy counting calories while overlooking one fundamental factor that directly affects how quickly (or slowly) one will shed the extra kilos. Did this pique your interest? Delhi-based nutritionist Lovneet Batra says, “An adult should sleep 7-9 hours a night. However, many people do not get enough sleep which can potentially put them at a higher risk for higher body fat. This directly impacts how they lose weight even when they are doing everything else right.”

Batra further helps you understand why restful sleep can be your weight loss tool.


Builds Hormonal Balance

Our hormones have a major impact on our body weight, and sleep affects our hormones hugely. “Hormones like insulin govern carbohydrate metabolism. Research shows improper sleep can lead to increased insulin resistance, which increases blood glucose levels leading to increased fat weight, especially around the belly,” explains Batra. Too little sleep also spikes the level of the stress hormone cortisol, signalling the body to conserve more energy to fuel your waking hours, which means you’ll be storing more fat.

 

Weight Loss

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Increases Your Metabolism

Proper sleep helps in maintaining robust metabolism which ensures you’re utilising your energy well instead of continuously storing it as fat in the body. Sleep deprivation can lead to metabolic dysregulation making your fat storing mechanism work more efficiently. Poor sleep reduces Resting Metabolic Rate, which means you’re burning less and storing more at rest.


Ensures Regeneration And Repair

Sleep is a restorative process that helps in better functioning of our cells when we are awake. Studies show that when dieters cut back on sleep, the weight lost from fat decreased by 55 per cent even though their calories remained same. They felt more hungry and less satisfied post meals, and were sapped of energy.


Helps In Lowering Inflammation

Insufficient sleep can increase oxidative stress in the body. “When you’re not sleeping enough or getting adequate REM sleep, and waking up tired, your inflammation can easily get aggravated, which increases pain, stress, and anxiety. This in turn, makes it harder to fall asleep the next night, putting you into a cycle of insomnia. This cycle makes it difficult to lose weight,” says Batra.

 

Weight Loss

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Sets Fixed Meal-time Routine

Keeping a regular sleep schedule helps in setting our circadian rhythm which intuitively makes us hungry at a fixed time. This helps in better meal planning and increased metabolism. “Research shows that people who stick to a fixed schedule and wake up, sleep at the same time everyday including weekends, are more likely to maintain weight loss as compared to those who stay up late and have erratic sleeping patterns,” adds Batra. Also, late-night eating  is associated with higher weight gain, an increased BMI, and decreased fat oxidation, making weight loss more difficult.


Enhances Physical Activity

Lack of sleep can negatively affect your athletic performance by hampering your muscle power, endurance, balance, reaction time, fine motor skills. It can also increase your risk of injury and delay recovery. When the body is not rested, it definitely impairs supply of sufficient energy. Improper sleep can lead to confusion and fatigue that can also make exercising less safe, especially activities like weightlifting.

 

Weight Loss

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Satisfies Hunger Hormones

Lack of sleep increases appetite, as when our body is sleep deprived, it may interrupt in the functioning of hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. Batra says, “The dysregulation of leptin and ghrelin may increase an individual’s appetite and lead to decrease in feeling of fullness when sleep deprived. A review of studies found that those who experienced lack of sleep consumed an additional 385 calories per day. Sleep curtailment may also result in stimulation of hunger and food intake that exceeds the energy cost of extended wakefulness, suggesting the involvement of reward mechanisms.” So, this means, after a night of poor sleep, not only does that chocolate seem more rewarding, but you’ll also have a difficult time practicing self-control.

 

Weight Loss

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Affects Food Preferences

Studies show that a sleep deprived individual is more likely to opt for foods high in sugar, salt, refined carbohydrates and fats. “Sleep deprivation can lead to significant increases in hunger, food cravings, portion sizes, chocolate and fat intake. Reduced sleep has also been shown to directly impact food selection and the way the our brain perceives food,” adds Batra. Researchers found that the areas of the brain responsible for reward are more active in response to food after sleep loss (four hours or less sleep) when compared to people who had good sleep (seven to nine hours sleep). This could possibly explain why sleep-deprived people snack more often and tend to choose high carb and high sugar foods compared to those who get enough sleep.

In conclusion, it’s not so much that you can sleep your way to weight loss, but too little sleep certainly makes you gain weight and hampers your metabolism.


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