Why a good night's sleep can help you lose weight

A good night's sleep can help you lose weight.
A good night's sleep can help you lose weight.
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Do you struggle to maintain your focus when trying to lose weight?

Do you always end up off the rails after a couple of weeks eating healthy? Do you have trouble controlling hunger? Always craving sweet foods?

Despite your biggest efforts in the gym, you don’t achieve the results that you want?

Maybe it’s genetics. Maybe you’re lazy or lack willpower. Or maybe diet or exercise isn’t the real problem …

If you want to look better, the most common suggestion is “eat less and move more”.

But it’s not that simple. Sometimes you want to eat less and move more, but it seems impossible to do so.

And there might be a good reason: between living your life, working, and exercising, you’re forgetting to sleep enough.

When you don’t get enough sleep and your body is tired, you can’t control your hormones as well. Especially the hormones leptin and ghrelin.

I won’t go into the whole science, but basically, when you are sleep deprived your body produces less leptin and more ghrelin.

When these two hormones aren’t controlled properly you can experience these side effects:

* Fat burning slows down;

* Metabolic grogginess (your metabolism slows down);

* Feel hungry;

* Crave sugary foods.

When you don’t sleep enough, your cortisol levels rise too. This is the stress hormone that is associated with fat gain.

Cortisol also activates reward centres in your brain that make you want food.

At the same time, the loss of sleep causes your body to produce more ghrelin.

A combination of high ghrelin and cortisol shut down the areas of your brain that leave you feeling satisfied after a meal, meaning you feel hungry all the time – even if you just ate a big meal.

The bottom line: not enough sleep means you’re always hungry, reaching for bigger portions, and desiring every type of food that is bad for you – and you don’t have the proper brain functioning to tell yourself, “No!”.

As well as the disastrous effects on your diet, lack of sleep can also affect your workouts.

You won’t have as much energy to push yourself. If you do manage to workout, the increase of cortisol will slow down your recovery after workouts.

The increase in cortisol will also prevent you from gaining as much lean muscle, which in turn will slow down your fat burning process.

My advice: while there’s no hard number that applies to all people, a good rule of thumb is to get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, and to make sure that one poor night of sleep isn’t followed up with a few more.

It might not seem like much, but it could make all the difference and mean more than any other health decision you make.

Checklist for week 5:

Download week five meal plans HERE.

Go get your shopping in and stock your cupboards/fridge with the healthy foods.

Get rid of any processed, sugary foods that may have found their way into your cupboards over the last week to remove any temptations.

Make sure you drink at least two litres of water every day.

Complete this week’s workout at least three times before next Wednesday.

Make sure you get between seven and nine hours sleep every night.

Your Trainer: Graham Low, owner of East Coast Fitness, is an award winning personal trainer based in Seaham.

The ex-professional footballer was nominated for the Small Business of the Year and Leisure Awards at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards last year.

Graham won the Leisure Award at the North East Hotels Association Awards while working as gym manager at Seaham Hall in 2012.

For personal training, boot camps, small group training and online programmes email graham@eastcoast-fitness.com.