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Poor Sleep – Is It Making You Fat?

By 13th August 2019Recovery

No. Poor sleep isn’t making you fat.

So why all this emphasis on how important it is?

Take a look at literally any fat loss programme and it will stress you need to be improving sleep to strip fat. Hell, even my online coaching programme says it. But why if it’s not making you fat?

The answer to that is a little more complex and something which we’re going to delve into today, but for now you should now that whilst poor sleep won’t make you fat, it can indirectly effect various pathways that do…

To understand why it can negatively impact fat loss and increase the likelihood of weight gain, you need to imagine this whole scenario we’re about to go through as a viscous cycle.

Poor sleep

This cycle starts with poor sleep.

For whatever reason – It could be a heavy night out, a stressful period in your life or maybe you just struggle to switch off at night.

Your body reacts to this night of poor quality sleep on a variety of levels, but most notably the brain and endocrine system kick up a fuss. These are the reactions we’re most concerned with:

  • Poor decision making.
  • Increased ghrelin. This is the hormone that makes you feel hungry. With more of this in the system you’ll want to eat more.
  • Decreased leptin. This hormone is released when you’re full. When too little is produced you’ll never quite feel satisfied and always be looking for more to snack on.
  • Elevated cortisol. This is the hormone released during stress. It can encourage fat gained to be stored around the middle like a spare tyre.
  • Decreased insulin sensitivity. When cells have poor insulin sensitivity, they can’t use insulin effectively which can leave your blood sugar high. Your pancreas detects this high blood sugar and releases even more insulin to overcome the resistance and get that blood sugar down. Over time this will deplete the pancreas of insulin producing cells which leads to type 2 diabetes.

Following the body’s reaction, your behaviours will then start to be influenced by how you’re feeling and by what’s going on in the body on a hormonal level. For example:

  • Crave high sugar foods.
  • Less motivation to workout.
  • Constantly want to chill. Not even Netflix and chill. Just chill!
  • Choose caffeine later in the day to give you a boost.

These behaviours obviously will then lead to a calorie surplus which results in fat gain. Hence why sleep starts to become so so important for burning fat and preventing further fat gain.

To link it all back into this viscous cycle you must remember that fat gain means it can be harder to breathe normal and harder to get comfortable, which again can effect how you sleep and so the pattern starts all over again!

Anyway I hope this article has given you a good insight into why you should be striving to improve your sleep for fat loss (beyond the “it’ll help you recover from exercise and put you in good mood” dogma we’ve all heard before). For further reading on how you can actually improve your sleep check out this article here. 

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