Sleep and why most of us need more of it!

sleep-deprivation

Today’s blog post is about sleep – one of the most underrated things we can adjust to hinder or help our fitness goals and fat loss.

SLEEP 101 – the Bad. 

Let’s be realistic – how we eat and how we exercise are probably the two biggest contributors to how we look and how we measure, physically. I won’t argue that. There are also many factors outside of these two things that also contribute. I’d like to discuss one of the biggest ones: sleep! (Hint: It’s probably the most overlooked reason).

It’s not always how much we sleep, but it’s a combination of both quality and quantity that can equate to proper hormonal responses, fat loss, and all of the other great benefits of proper sleep that we can achieve.

Let’s touch base on Cortisol first. It’s such an evil word, I feel bad even typing it! Cortisol is a hormone in our body that breaks down tissues. In stressful times (including dieting), the body’s cortisol levels can be higher as the body is preparing for fight or flight status. This can cause the body to store fat as a response!

There’s a cool study in the Laboratory of Physiology in Belgium that showed daytime cortisol levels were higher in those that short themselves of sleep.

Another negative to lack of sleep is glucose control.  Let’s face it, when we can’t sleep, we get hungry and no one ever says “I can’t sleep, let’s go chow on some broccoli.” It just doesn’t happen! Usually CARBS are the culprit of these cravings. There’s a great study done in Chicago (my home!) that showed sleep deprivation can lead to increased hunger and appetite!

In all likelihood, our sneaky little bodies sense fatigue and think it’s a low energy supply, queuing internal drives to chow down on some carbs.

And my last rant here – if we don’t sleep enough, our workouts SUCK. I can quote research on this all day, but I think most of us can confirm that knowingly already.

An interesting tidbit. 

Here’s a quick fact I learned on sleep and car accidents:

A study was done on car accidents the week following daylight savings time in the Spring and Fall.

In the Spring when we lost an hour, car accidents were up 10% approximately for up to two days after the time change. 

In the Fall, when we gained an hour of sleep, car accident rates were reduced by 8-10% in the 2 days following. Personally, I think more accidents occur in the fall anyways, so this research is VERY telling.

Pretty interesting, huh?

2 Strategies for better quality of sleep. 

I am going to share a few strategies I’ve learned from books, lectures, etc. i’ve researched over the years that have made a huge impact on quality of sleep for my clients.

1. Make it a priority!

Make sure you get 7.5 hours per day. Carve it out in your calendar if you must. Here’s a cool idea: Find 10 minutes per day and add it into your sleep time. This could mean:

  • Sleeping later in the morning
  • not finishing that netflix rerun at night
  • taking a powernap

Why? Remember that tidbit about the car accidents? Now you’ve just added an extra hour per week to your sleep. That can really have a positive effect on how you sleep.

2. Protect your fort of sleeping. 

Design your own fort of sleeping. Get rid of your i-this and i-that. Research says you’ll fall asleep faster. 

Let’s start here. Try these two strategies and over a 4-6 week period jot some notes down on energy levels, weight, and overall mood. I’m willing to bet you’ll feel much better if you look these things over.

-Darin Hulslander, CSCS, Precision Nutrition Level 1/2

http://www.thisisperformance.com – first week of online training free.

For all your performance, mobility, and nutrition needs.

Sources:

  1. Copinschi, G. (2005). Metabolic and endocrine effects of sleep deprivation. Essent Psychopharmacol. 6(6):341-7.
  2. Murphy, HM., & Wideman, CH. (2009). Constant light induced alterations in melatonin levels, food intake, feed efficiency, visceral adiposity, and circadian rhythms in rats. Oct;12(5):233-40.
  3. Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (2010). Role of Sleep and Sleep Loss In Hormonal Release and Metabolism. Endocrine Development. 17:11-21.
  4. Coren, Stanley. Sleep Thieves: An Eye-opening Exploration into the Science and Mysteries of Sleep. New York, NY: Free, 1996. Print.
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AND THE BEST DIET IS – (DRUMROLL PLEASE)

and-a-diet-coke-meme

Sorry guys and gals – I’m going to make you have to read to get the answer 😉

The Beginning. 

Let’s face it. There are more diets out there than we can even count. So which one is truly the best? Most recently a group of authors and researchers (plus a little of my own research) have looked at many studies to help determine which diet is truly the most effective and best in regards to weight loss. 

This study looked at “name brand” diet interventions (i.e. Atkins, South Beach, etc.).

The Critical Elements. 

A few key things to note from this:

  • The studies DID include exercise and behavioral interventions but not all of them. Remember this is a cumulative analysis.
  • They had to have lasted 6 months, some lasted longer, and the longest lasted a  year.

Diets Assessed:

  • Atkins – Low Carb
  • Biggest Loser – Moderate carb, moderate fat
  • Jenny Craig – Moderate carb, moderate fat (customized meals)
  • LEARN – low fat to moderate
  • Nutrisystem – moderate
  • Ornish  – Low Fat
  • South Beach – Low Carb
  • Volumetrics – Moderate
  • Weight Watchers – Moderate
  • Zone – Low Carb (in phases)

The researchers that assessed these took into consideration all interventions, including exercise, and ranked them based on strength of the modifications done.

What did the results say???

So this doesn’t answer the original question, but here were the findings (after 1 year):

  1. Any diet > no diet (DUH!)
  2. Low Carb diets were only slightly superior to low fat diets (8.73 vs. 7.99kg lost)
  3. Low Carb and Low Fat Diets had nearly equal effects on weight loss in comparison to the moderate based diets.
  4. Of the individual diets, the Atkins and Ornish (10.1 and 9kg, respectively) were the most effective at both the 6 and 12 month markers.
  5. (This is my favorite one) – Behavioral Support resulted in greater weight loss (3.23kg more than using diets with no support) over the 12 month period.

Let me say, however, that it’s very difficult to make conclusive statements, hence the use of my lingo up there. There are way too many factors involved to definitively say and Scientifically say one works over the other.

What does all of this dribble mean????

It means just that. There is no “universally optimal” diet. That’s just life. The best diet is a diet that one can adhere to.

Sorry that’s not the answer many of us are looking for, but I’m going to give some better strategies below that will help with that.

So what truly is the best diet?

The best diet is one you can adhere to. Low Carb and Low fat lead to greatest long term results, but not by much, and only with named diets in this particular research. There are many other factors that make it impossible to say one is truly the best.

So how do I follow this diet?

Simple. Create habits. Let’s use ‘Sally’ as an example below. Read this scenario.

Awesome Darin: “Sally, we are going to create a habit for you in order to fix your diet long term. The first habit is to eat one serving of colorful vegetables per day for two weeks and we will build on that. Can you do that?”

Sally: “That’s it?! That’s way too easy. I can eat 5 servings per day for two weeks, can I just do that??”

Awesome Darin: “Sure, but I only want you FOCUSING on 1 serving per day”

Here are two scenarios to ponder:

Trainer gives sally a goal of 5 servings per day, she does it for two days, then by day 5, she’s down to 1 serving per day. Sally’s progress starts high, the habit is never built, and she regresses instead of progresses.

Awesome Darin only reinforces the one serving per day, Sally complies for two weeks, and she has successfully built a habit that she can now add on to.

Which do you truly think would have the most success over a year?

So the point is this. Create simple habits. FOLLOW them. Then add new ones. Make them attainable every single day. That’s the best diet out there. 

-Darin Hulslander, CSCS, Precision Nutrition Level 1 (Level 2 in progress)

http://www.thisisperformance.com

http://www.darintalks.com

Source: Patel, Karmal, ed. “ERD Research Digest.” ERD Digest 1st ser. 1.2 (2014): 21-27. Web. 21 May 2015.