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Can Getting Adequate Sleep Benefit a Low-Calorie Diet?

Feb 25 2021

Can Getting Adequate Sleep Benefit a Low-Calorie Diet?

How and Why Adequate Sleep Helps You Lose Weight

Anyone who has tried to lose weight has probably been advised to follow a low-calorie diet and exercise regularly. What most people aren’t told is that sleep plays a critical role in weight loss. Quality sleep is one of the neglected lifestyle factors that has been shown in several studies to help with metabolism, food preference, and appetite.

If you are working on your weight loss goals, there are a couple of things you should be doing already. Eating healthy, exercising, and getting quality sleep are some of them. Other people would resort to using supplements and other alternative weight loss programs, which might work for them.

Here, we’ll look at how getting adequate sleep could benefit a low-calorie diet to help accelerate your weight loss journey. The idea is that sleeping for seven to nine hours would positively influence your choice of food and, most importantly, help you stick to your low-calorie dieting.

To support this claim, here are some research findings.

Research Findings Linking Sleep deprivation to Increased Calorie Intake 

A research finding published in the European Journal found that sleep deprivation may result in people consuming more calories the following day. The report analyzed 11 studies with 172 participants and found highly consistent results throughout the study period.

Another study found that partial sleep deprivation resulted in higher activation of the brain’s reward center whenever people were exposed to food. It also highlighted that a lack of enough sleep might increase appetite and preference for high-calorie, lipid-rich foods.

The greater motivation to seek food could be linked to weight gain. However, this isn’t the only possible explanation. The research authors also suggested other possibilities, such as disruption of the body’s internal clock that affects the regulation of two important hormones – leptin and ghrelin.

Higher Leptin levels in the body are responsible for decreased appetite, meaning you’ll feel a bit fuller. However, higher levels of the ghrelin hormone, also known as the hunger hormone, are responsible for increased appetite. The authors suggested that sleep restriction interferes with these two hormones – it increases ghrelin hormone levels and decreases leptin levels.

Sleep and Weight Loss

Sleep allows the body and the brain to relax, restore and recover. Prolonged sleep deprivation affects not only weight loss but also concentration and cognitive functions. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people who are sleep deprived tend to choose unhealthy foods and even overeat. They are also more likely to choose high-calorie foods, according to research.

While sleep deprivation can affect food choices leading to weight gain, chronic sleep loss has been linked to a larger waist circumference (an indirect measurement of body fatness) with an increased risk of obesity. For people working on their weight loss, insufficient sleep can reduce energy levels and muscle strength during exercise. These two can affect your physical activity, hindering your progress in the gym and ultimately hurting weight loss.

How to Improve Your Sleep Patterns During Weight Loss 

Adequate and quality sleep plays a critical role during a weight loss plan. Below are some tips to help you improve your sleep patterns so you reach your goals faster:

  • Have a sleep schedule – Major differences in your sleep patterns have been shown to cause metabolism changes. This can reduce insulin sensitivity, increasing the chances of high sugar levels in the blood and risks of gaining more weight. This will negatively affect your weight loss plan.
  • Consider sleeping in a dark room – Having a TV on or sleeping while the bedside lamp is on has been associated with poor sleep. Some studies have also linked this to high risks of weight gain and obesity.
  • Avoid heavy meals right before bed – late-night snacks or eating late in the night right before bed may affect the quality of sleep hence negatively affecting your weight loss progress.
  • Avoid stress factors – Being able to identify causes of stress will allow you to work on them. Work or life-related stress can lead to poor sleep. Some studies have linked stress with weight gain, for example, eating to cope with negative feelings or emotions.
  • Consider waking up early – A majority of the working/busy population is either considered early birds or night owls. The latter spend their night working and are more likely to wake up late. Late bedtimes have been ranked as one factor causing certain people to eat more calories, increasing the risks of weight gain. On the other hand, people with the habit of waking up earlier are more likely to keep up with their weight loss plans.

Adequate Sleep and Weight Loss Go Hand in Hand

If you are currently following a weight loss program, following a consistent sleep schedule and making sure you’re getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep may help you lose weight faster. And as shown in a couple of research studies highlighted above, it may actually help you avoid high-calorie foods.