Sleep; The key to your fat loss and your gains
June 2, 2022

Sleep and fat loss.

Gym and weight-loss culture tends to be big, bold and loud. We always hear- 'more is more', 'get on with it', 'do more!'

But what if the key is to do less? Rest and recovery need to become as much a part of your routine as training and nutrition.

Did you know that sleep ranks up there with nutrition as a key factor in determining both weight-loss and muscle gain? Muscle gain begins outside the gym. The minute you finish training, your body goes into recovery and repair mode- and this is where you need to start optimising the 'behind the scenes' part.

Let's look at why sleep matters:

Firstly, from a practical viewpoint- if you are tired and under-recovered, you will move less and train with less intensity. Your incidental exercise will slow right down. Those 10,000 steps (your NEAT) will go right out the window as you just struggle to move through your day.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, cleaning your house and fidgeting.

Secondly, from a hormonal viewpoint- what goes on inside our bodies when we don't get adequate sleep (less than 7 hours per night)?

Cortisol increases which can cause inflammation, water retention and hinder muscle-growth pathways. It basically puts your body into fight or flight mode - your body doesn't know you've been up, binging on Yellowstone, or on the forum - it thinks you're under threat so the last thing it wants to do is shed fat for you. In fact, it will drop that heavy muscle first - in case you're being chased by a lion!

This hormonal interruption can lead to a cascade of events where our hunger hormones can go out of whack and our ghrelin (hunger hormone) does not function optimally - which leads us to reach for foods and portion sizes we know don/t match our goals. Inflammation increases and the scales stop budging, or go up!

It's not all bad news. You get to fix this by, well, sleeping!

Here are some tips to help you get those hours and improve your sleep hygiene.

N.B: If you are a shift worker, try to also ensure that you are taking note of these tips as much as possible around your hours.


SLEEP TIPS

1.Organise your sleep area as you would your work, food or training areas. What is the bedding like? If you've been meaning to get a new pillow - now's the time.


2.Try to get rid of light from your phone or laptop. The light from your devices can suppress melatonin and make it harder to fall asleep. If you must use them, switch them to night-option, but give yourself at least fifteen minutes of screen-free time. This includes TV.

3.Have a regular sleep schedule. Of course, this is hard with young kids- we all know that it's hard to trust and rely on them to sleep when you want- but try to set yourself a bedtime and stick to it- work backwards 8 hours from when you are due to get up. For me, i'm up at 5am, so I need to try for an 8.30-9pm bedtime. This means missing out on TV shows and making kids' lunches when I'm doing dinner.

4.Avoid caffeine or beverages with caffeine after midday. Yes, that means no pre-workout in the evening - but worth it, for gains!

5.Make sure your room isn't too bright

6.Have a warm shower or bath before bed

7.Use a magnesium cream on your feet

8.Avoid eating too close to bedtime

9.Write a to-do list and anything that might be stressing you out down, that way it is not filling your mind as you are trying to sleep

10.Read a book, or journal before bed


Try all of these tips and remember that they count, just as much as that hardcore training session, toward your ultimate goals.


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