Sleep for a leaner physique!

Sleep for a leaner physique!

07-03-2016 | 
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Even a precisely planned dietary regimen can get stuck at several points. It is often not enough to focus on your diet and workout only. Once people catch the fitness bug, they tend to push it too far: many of them train like 6 times a week, which is way much for someone who only works out as a hobby, especially if they are shredding. Cardio-obsession is another well-known bug. And the use of thermogenic fat burners can often lead to excessive alertness or sleeping disorders. And this is going to have a negative impact on several physiological processes, which is definitely not good for your diet. On the other hand, if you take extra care of getting enough sleep, you can easily benefit from it to keep fat loss going!

What we tend to forget...

No doubt about this: the most important prerequisites of fat loss are a good dietary regimen and a workout routine. In this order of priority, every time. When it comes to the shredding phase, these are usually the two things that are highlighted as the most important prerequisites of reaching your goal. You see thousands of training programs, articles and stuff that recommend various methods to rev up this process. And these can be useful, because the type and frequency of training indeed matters a lot in this period, as well as the diet, which can have several elements that may be the key to your success or lack of success. When talking about bulking, the importance of recovery (getting enough rest and sleep) is always mentioned besides plentiful nutrient intake, and not without a reason: recovery processes that are inevitable for muscle building should be processed somehow, if you want to gain mass. When it’s about fat loss, we somehow tend to belittle the importance of sleeping.

s<span></span>leep for a leaner physique!

However, in the shredding phase, you should pay extra attention to rest to ensure the maintenance of your muscle mass. Still, what usually happens is the opposite: and you can easily overstrain yourself with training in a state of calorie deficit.Not mentioning the (ab)use of thermogenic fat burners. Doing so, you might feel like you are full of energy all day, but actually you are just tricking your nervous system with stimulants. Your weight loss has come to a halt, even though your carb intake is converging to zero or you are sticking to your diet really precisely? Are you getting enough sleep? And anyway, why do we need to discuss it in so much detail?

The negative consequences of sleep deprivation with respect to fat loss

There are plenty of those. As your stocks are getting depleted, your body starts to adapt to the situation and tries to outweigh the consequences of reduced nutrient intake and sleep deprivation in every possible way. This shows mostly in the following symptoms:

  • Excessive fat gains
  • Reduced insulin sensitivity (this is related to the previous symptom)
  • High cortisol level
  • Poorer mental and physical performance

All of these factors are more or less interconnected. The consequence of insulin resistance i.e. poor insulin sensitivity is a stronger tendency to fat gains. A higher cortisol level puts the body to a catabolic state, which can also lead to fat gains. Muscle catabolism entails lower strength level and poorer performance. Plus, a higher cortisol level will have a negative impact on your mental performance as well.

I want sugar! NOW!

You probably know it by experience that when you are tired and unslept, you might get binge attacks or carb cravings (especially for refined carbs) from one second to the next. Like a pregnant lady! God save any cookie, candy or pastry near you: you might easily lose control and devour them like a hungry shark, which you will regret of course, right after you swallowed the last bite. Actually, it is no wonder: several studies have shown that sleep deprivation can trigger certain metabolic or hormonal changes in the body, and the most common symptoms of these are increased appetite or carb cravings. This is nothing else but a subconscious reaction of your body for survival: “Are you tired? Then you need a source of energy so you can survive anything”. We are simple creatures like that.

I want sugar! NOW!

Now let’s assume you are disciplined enough to overcome this and stick to your diet. Still you won’t get away with it so easily.

Degradation of insulin sensitivity as a consequence of sleep deprivation

Let’s talk about insulin sensitivity. What is insulin and what is the role it plays in our metabolic processes? Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas. It is primarily a transport hormone, which regulates the metabolism of the nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) you consumed. The primary function of insulin is transforming the consumed carbohydrates to glucose (sugar), which is then absorbed through the small intestine to the blood, and supplies the body with energy. Insulin can bind to the insulin receptors of cells (in the muscle tissues, adipose tissues or the liver). At the end, small pores open up at the cell membranes of the tissues concerned, and through these small pores, the cells can take up glucose. After the cells have taken up glucose through these small holes, they use it up as energy or use it to build glycogen. So, insulin transports the glucose from the blood to the muscle cells, among others. Having a poor insulin sensitivity means the insulin receptors of the cells become unresponsive of insulin, so the muscles won’t be able to take up glucose. So, the insulin level remains high, which creates an environment that facilitates fat gains or hinders fat loss the least. Because if the insulin level is high, the fatty acids cannot flow out of the adipose cells. On the other hand, adipose cells will be able to take them up, together with the glucose in the blood.

Degradation of insulin sensitivity as a consequence of s<span></span>leep deprivation

In other words: if you have poor insulin sensitivity, you will be more prone to gaining fat, so you won’t be able to lose any of your existing body fat. Insulin sensitivity fluctuates during the day. It is typically the worst after waking up, and there is actually a direct relation between lack of sleep (especially chronic sleep deprivation) and the degradation of insulin sensitivity. So, if you don’t want your body to enlarge your fat deposits from the carbs you consumed, moreover, you wish to lose some body fat, you should definitely make sure you get enough sleep.

Another saboteur: cortisol

A chronically high cortisol level may be the worst physiological consequence of sleep deprivation. Cortisol acts like a panic password for the body. Its level rises in stressful situations (either physical or psychological stress). At times like these, it activates virtually all available sources of energy so you can use them up as quickly as possible. It raises your blood sugar level, plus, it starts to break down your muscles into amino acids so you can use them as quick energy sources. All in all, it makes ALL possible energy sources quickly available except for adipose tissues: these are the last resort after your body has devoured glucose and muscle protein. Cortisol also reduces the cells’ ability to take up glucose (i.e. it reduces insulin sensitivity) to ensure a high blood sugar level. It actually causes temporary insulin resistance by blocking the insulin receptors of muscle cells to prevent them from building glycogen from the glucose that is circulating in the blood. Since cortisol is a stress hormone, it switches your body to “survival mode”: when the glucose that is circulating in the blood should be available as a quick energy source in case of emergency. A case of emergency requires sugar. A whole lot of sugar. Without delay. So you can use it as direct energy for fight or flight.

Another saboteur: cortisol

Whether high cortisol level is induced by stress or lack of sleep, the outcome will be the same: loss of muscle and an increased tendency to fat gains. Another factor that can hinder fat loss.

Poorer mental and physical performance

This is definitely a huge problem in every aspect; its impacts on fat loss are rather indirect. Because, if you suffer from chronic fatigue, you are irritable and unmotivated all the time and you cannot do your best in the gym, it is no wonder that you are drifting further and further away from the physique you’ve been dreaming of. It needs no explanation: poorer physical performance will have a negative impact on your training. You can overtrain yourself more easily, the consequences of which will be devastating for your training program. And without intense workout, fat loss will be much less efficient. So, in this case your diet is just a waste of time.

If you want to bring out the best of your diet, you should make sure you get enough sleep! Some people can easily go on with 5 or 6 hours, while others need a minimum of 9 hours of sleep to get enough rest. In general, we can say that 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal for a great majority of people. Always try to make sure you get enough shut-eye for your individual needs, and you’ll see: not only your thoughts will be cleaner and you’ll get more energetic, but your diet will be much more effective, too!

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