fitness training toowong

Does Sleep Help You Lose Weight?

In every guide for losing weight or maintaining a fit lifestyle, there’s always a note about getting more sleep or adhering to healthy sleeping patterns. But, what’s the science behind this? How does sleeping more or sleeping better help our bodies, especially when we want to lose weight?

Sleep can be just as important as your diet and exercise. In fact, a lack of sleep could just be what’s stopping you from reaching your fitness goals despite your hours at the gym and constant clean eating. When we think of weight loss, we usually think of cutting back on calories and being more physically active. The key, however, is balance, especially if you ascribe to a fast-paced and stressful lifestyle. Balance includes rest and regeneration, and there’s no better way to achieve that than through sleep.

Getting enough sleep is so crucial to one’s health that, according to one report, sleep deprivation kills 3,000 Australians each year. This number of deaths were all linked to sleep deprivation. The study also concluded that 9.8 percent of Australian adults experience some form of inadequate sleep. Aside from affecting our energy levels, sleep also influences our food cravings, calorie intake, fat cells, metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

fitness training toowongIn terms of research, weight loss and sleep have been proven to be linked. One study observed that when dieters are put on varied sleeping schedules, they also lose a varied amount of weight. Getting enough sleep made them lose fat, but less hours for sleep resulted in half that amount of fat loss. The participants also felt more hungry and lacked energy to exercise when they cut back on sleep.

An important factor in weight loss is our appetite and sleep or lack of can affect our calorie intake. One study with participants on four hours of sleep eat 559 more calories than those who got eight hours of sleep. Other studies have also observed that these extra calories are consumed as post-dinner or late-night snacks, which can make falling asleep more difficult and affect digestion.

If you have a hard time battling cravings, ask yourself if you’re getting enough sleep. Leptin is a hormone that is crucial in resisting tempting foods and making healthy choices. When the body produces less leptin, the more the stomach feels empty. Our cravings are also affected by the hormone ghrelin, the more of which increases appetite and the amount of fat the body stores. Sleeping less than six hours has been found to decrease leptin and increase ghrelin. Another vital hormone is cortisol or the stress hormone. The more stressed we are, the more cortisol is produced and this can persuade us to reach for sugary junk food as well as gain more fat.

Metabolism is also a significant factor as we still burn calories when we’re at rest. Our resting metabolic rate or RMR could be lowered due to sleep deprivation. According to one research, keeping awake for 24 hours decreased RMR by 5 percent compared to a regular amount of rest. Lack of sleep can also result in a reduction in muscle mass which leads to a reduction in metabolic rate which can lead to storing additional energy as fat.

Weight Training and Fat Loss

Imagine that your body is a motor vehicle. Your muscles: use energy to produce movement (like an engine); absorb impact forces that otherwise could destroy your bones, connective tissue and joint structures (like shock absorbers); and provide the framework that enables you to function physically (like the chassis). Just as mechanics know that proper maintenance keeps your car in good shape, researchers are finding that weight training plays a vital role in keeping your muscles well-tuned.

Weight training also plays a crucial part in your weight loss efforts and more importantly helping you to maintain your weight loss results. One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting a weight loss or body transformation program is not including weight training with their cardio-vascular exercise and eating regimen. This is unfortunate, because when you cut calories without weight training for an extended period, you can lose muscle as well as fat. And when you lose muscle, your body becomes a lot less efficient at burning fat. However, when you gain muscle, your body will burn more fat, 24 hours a day!

The benefits of weight training for weight loss include…

Weight Training Increases Your Metabolism

Your resting metabolic rate represents the amount of energy you need on a daily basis to sustain the function of your body. Even at rest, muscle is very active tissue. Consequently, muscle loss results in a reduction in your metabolic rate. Because less muscle means lower energy requirements, calories that were previously used for muscle maintenance are now stored as fat. Sensible weight training is the best means of avoiding decreases in muscle mass and metabolic rate, and guarding against the obesity creep, i.e. weight training will maintain or increase your metabolic rate, which in turn helps you to maintain or decrease your body fat levels.

Weight Training Improves Glucose Metabolism

Researchers have reported a 23% increase in glucose uptake after four months of weight training. Because poor glucose metabolism is associated with increasing body fat and adult onset diabetes, improved glucose metabolism is an important benefit of regular weight training.

Weight Training Helps Neutralise Age-related Muscle Loss

Most adults that do not do weight training lose between 2.3 and 3.2 kg of muscle per decade. This equates to a decrease of 2-5% in metabolic rate every decade. At rest, 1 kg of muscle requires 13 calories per day for tissue maintenance, and during exercise, muscle energy utilisation increases dramatically. An InBody Scan (or other similar test) will help you monitor changes in your lean muscle mass.

Weight Training Improves Daily Function

Increased functional strength from weight training does wonders to help you with activities of daily living such as house work, working in the yard, moving furniture, and carrying bags of groceries, without gasping for air and tiring within minutes. If you have a medical condition such as arthritis or multiple sclerosis, lifting weights can also be a great help. The greater efficiency in performing general activities due to increased strength can also lead to an increase in the use of body fat as energy thereby helping with fat loss.

Weight Training Improves Posture

When your body is stronger (including your core), you are better able to hold yourself with good posture, your back aches less, there is less stress in your neck and your legs feel strong. You simply function better! Most people who increase their strength, also report an increase in self-confidence.

How Much Is Enough?

Although a personal trainer can help determine the best program for you, as a general rule benefits can be achieved from training 2 – 3 non-consecutive days per week for a minimum of one set per exercise for each major muscle group. You should use enough resistance to fatigue the muscle group by the end of each set.

Getting Stronger

Training your muscles does take some effort, but no matter what age you are, you’ll find that strength training will fuel a healthy lifestyle and help you function better in all aspects of your life.