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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.

personal training toowong

Be Kind to Your Back

At least once in our lives we’ve been told, “Back straight! Shoulders back!” as a way of correcting our poor posture. However, proper back health and correct posture is more than that. Good posture and a good back also have a lot more to offer us than the appearance of confidence. Whether you’re a fitness pro, an athlete or someone who’s just keen on making sure they’re in good shape, not enough importance is placed on having a strong back.

We take our backs for granted every day. All day, we hop from one seat to another–the car, the bus, the train, the office, the couch, the bed. The times we do get to walk, we’re probably balancing a heavy handbag or backpack or not noticing that we’re slouching as we’re in a rush. The matter of “good” and “bad” posture is not entirely simple. In fact, according to experts, there are five types of postures:

  1. Kyphosis is where the head is in forward position and the shoulders and upper back are rounded.
  2. Lordosis involves an exaggerated lumbar (lower back) curve with the shoulders pulled back too slightly.
  3. Sway back is when the body is actually tilting backwards.
  4. Forward head posture is where the head and cervical spine shift forward.
  5. Correct posture is when the shoulders and hips are aligned and the ear aligns with the shoulder down to the hip and ankle bone.

Now, you’re probably wondering how is it you can be mindful whether your ears and and hips and ankle bones are perfectly aligned at all times? Achieving correct posture seems like a tricky balancing act, but it’s achievable. When standing with good posture, you should be able to draw an imaginary straight line from your earlobe through your shoulder, hip, knee and the middle of your ankle. Meanwhile, good sitting posture means having your back straight and buttocks at the back of your chair with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent at a right angle.

The most common reason we’re given when advised to fix our posture is that it will make us look more attractive and confident. Of course, attraction and confidence don’t lie solely on physical appearance, but there is value in this. Non-verbal cues make up 85 percent of everyday communication, so even when you’re feeling unsure, you can at least make it seem like you are with the simple act of correcting your posture.

personal training toowongYour posture impacts your strength, no matter how much training you undergo. When we slump or slouch, the shoulder stabilisers fail and the chest and core drop. Even our breathing is affected by posture. Good posture opens the airways in our bodies, allowing for enhanced oxygen flow. This is why exercises such as yoga, Pilates and meditation place a lot of emphasis on breathing and posture. When you breath properly, you increase your concentration and thinking abilities as well. The more oxygen we get, the better.

The course to correcting your posture involves both physical and mental strategies. You may practice back-strengthening exercises at the gym, but keeping your posture in check whether you’re at work, play or rest requires a little more attention.

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Smoothie Ingredients to Avoid If You Want to Lose Weight

Whipping up a smoothie is such a simple and tasty way to get the nutrients you need during your morning commute or at your desk in the middle of the day. Smoothies are often used by dieters as meal substitutes, since they’re high in nutrients and can be low in calories. Be aware of going on some type of a smoothie or juice cleanse, though. Your liquid mini-meal should always be part of a balanced diet and lifestyle.

Weight loss near meAll those rich vitamins, protein, fibre and other such healthy ingredients packed into one drink seem to be too good to be true. Sometimes, that may be the case. Just because you’re throwing in fruits and protein powders doesn’t mean they’re great for you, especially if your smoothie is part of your journey to losing weight.

Here are the ingredients nutrition experts agree on that you should cut back on or skip entirely for your weight loss smoothies.

Fruit juice

Adding fruit juice seems like a good idea. It’s much easier to store those bottles of juice than to keep watch over fresh fruits. But fruit juices can do more harm than good when you’re trying to keep your waist trim. And, as you should know, sugar adds more weight. Even if they’re rich in fibre, some juices even contain more sugar than soft drinks!

Canned fruit and overly sweet fruits

Just like fruit juice, some juices contain more sugars than you need. They may not be artificial sugars, but they can still be more harmful to your weight loss goals. Canned or dried fruits may appear tempting, but canned fruits are packed in sugary syrup or juice. Meanwhile, dried fruits are just as calorific. Opt for the frozen variety, particularly berries, green apples, and citrus fruits.

Flavored and non-fat yoghurt

Yoghurt that already comes with bits of fruit or flavoured with fruit contain extra sugars. And, while the word “non-fat” may appeal to you, full fat yoghurts come more recommended. Fats can help you feel fuller for a longer time, which is essential if your particular smoothie is replacing a meal. Greek yoghurt especially is packed with more protein than other yoghurt varieties.

Whole nuts

Nuts are great sources of fat and protein, but they will make your smoothie gritty. On that note, nut butters can be tricky as well. Be sure they’re low or free of sugar.

Additional sweeteners

Sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar and agave nectars are still sources of sugars. Some of them may be less calorific than cane sugar, but avoid them anyway. If you really need an extra kick if sweetness in your smoothie, try sugar-free and calorie-free stevia extract.

Chocolate chips

You’ve probably read somewhere that a bit of chocolate can do you good, but not so much in your smoothie. For a healthier alternative to a chocolatey taste, add cacao nibs or unsweetened cocoa powder. They may not be as sweet as regular chocolate chips, but with the right blend of ingredients, it can result in a tasty treat.