Your diet programme involves cutting things out of your life……….
- You cut out chocolates and cookies
- You cut out full cream milk
- You cut out the four teaspoons of sugar in your cup of coffee
- You cut back on sleep
Okay, it might not be in your diet plan, but life is really busy, eating healthy and exercising is time consuming. Something has to give……………….. an hour or two of sleep won’t make much difference, or will it ?
Losing out on sleep is losing
Researchers from the University of Chicago followed 10 overweight but healthy volunteers, aged between 35 and 49, on their weight loss journey.
Each participant received a tailor made diet plan, which ensured that their calories in were curtailed. Each person ended up consuming 90 % of the calories they needed, leaving a 10 % shortfall.
The diet programme was closely supervised – CLOSELY. Participants checked into the lab for two 14 days stints of serious dieting. They were allowed to “live” outside the lab during the day, but the nights were spent under the glare of the researchers.
One stint of dieting saw the participants sleeping for 8.5 hours, the other stint, saw the time in bed cut back to 5.5 hours. There was no difference in the diet during the two stints.
Sleeping the fat off
The 10 % calorie deficit was made up by “burning” body calorie stores – so everyone lost weight.
The average weight lost on a 14 day stint was 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds), but what was lost depended on how much sleep they enjoyed.
- When they were in bed for 8.5 hours – 1.4 kg was fat, the balance was protein.
- When they cut back on time in bed – fat loss was a miserable 0.6 kg. They primarily lost muscle not fat.
If you’re not good at maths, that is a 55 % difference.
Ghrelin rises when sleep deprived
The team kept tabs on the participants ghrelin levels and recorded how hungry they felt throughout their 14 week diet. They focused on ghrelin, because it is the hunger hormone, it encourages fat retention and pokes and prods the liver, to maximize glucose production. In short – ghrelin is an anti-fat burner.
Sleep deprived participants reported feeling hungrier, but opportunities to “cheat” were curtailed by the constant supervision, so it was difficult to satisfy the ramped up hunger drive. Difficult – not impossible ! Haha.
When participants got their full quota of sleep – ghrelin levels were stable. However, when they were sleep deprived, the levels shot up over the 2 week period from from 75 ng/L to 84 ng/L.
If you’re going on diet, add sleep
Dieting is always about deprivation, but if you’re dieting the one deprivation you cannot afford to include is sleep.
The amount of sleep DOES make a difference. If the plan is to lose fat, skipping sleep is like throwing a spanner in that dieting wheel.
PS. Officially, as an adult you need somewhere between 6 – 8 hours a night, err on the side of 8 hours not 6.Sleep loss limits fat loss – press release from University of Chicago Medical Centre.
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