There’s a ton of incredibly promising intermittent fasting (IF) research done on fat rats. They lose weight, their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars improve… but they’re rats. Studies in humans, almost across the board, have shown that IF is safe and incredibly effective, but really no more effective than any other diet. In addition, many people find it difficult to fast.
But a growing body of research suggests that the timing of the fast is key, and can make IF a more realistic, sustainable, and effective approach for weight loss, as well as for diabetes prevention.
Your Sleepy Brain
Skimping on sleep sets your brain up to make bad decisions. It dulls activity in the brain’s frontal lobe, the locus of decision-making and impulse control.
So it’s a little like being drunk. You don’t have the mental clarity to make good decisions.
Research tells the story. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people were starved of sleep, late-night snacking increased, and they were more likely to choose high-carb snacks. In another study done at the University of Chicago, sleep-deprived participants chose snacks with twice as much fat as those who slept at least 8 hours.
Add it all together, and a sleepy brain appears to crave junk food while also lacking the impulse control to say no.
Sleep and Metabolism
Sleep is like nutrition for the brain. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours each night. Get less than that, and your body will react in ways that lead even the most determined dieter straight to Ben & Jerry’s.
Too little sleep triggers a cortisol spike. This stress hormone signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours.
Translation: You’re more apt to hang on to fat.
Researchers found that when dieters cut back on sleep over a 14-day period, the amount of weight they lost from fat dropped by 55%, even though their calories stayed equal. They felt hungrier and less satisfied after meals, and their energy was zapped.
Sleep deprivation makes you “metabolically groggy,” University of Chicago researchers say. Within just 4 days of insufficient ZZZs, your body’s ability to process insulin — a hormone needed to change sugar, starches, and other food into energy — goes awry. Insulin sensitivity, the researchers found, dropped by more than 30%.
Tricks and Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep
In today’s world, snoozing can be difficult, particularly when all your screens (computers, TVs, cell phones, tablets) lure you into staying up just a little longer.
The basics are pretty simple:
- Shut down your computer, cell phone, and TV at least an hour before you hit the sack.
- Save your bedroom for sleep and sex. Think relaxation and release, rather than work or entertainment.
- Create a bedtime ritual. It’s not the time to tackle big issues. Instead, take a warm bath, meditate, or read.
- Stick to a schedule, waking up and retiring at the same times every day, even on weekends.
- Watch what and when you eat. Avoid eating heavy meals and alcohol close to bedtime, which may cause heartburn and make it hard to fall asleep. And steer clear of soda, tea, coffee, and chocolate after 2 p.m. Caffeine can stay in your system for 5 to 6 hours.
- Turn out the lights. Darkness cues your body to release the natural sleep hormone melatonin, while light suppresses it.
There is no better motivation than a friend who shares the same goals. I, for one, love going on runs with my friends and walks with my mom and sister. So many people us excuses that they are too busy to see their friends or exercise. This is a great tip to not only exercise but catch up along the way. Try this tip sometime this week.
Adding protein to your diet will keep you full for longer. If we feel our bodies with healthy proteins like lean meats, eggs, and Greek yogurt, we are more likely to eat less during the day and more likely to accomplish our weight loss goals.
Celebrate all of your wins – big and small! You can celebrate by treating yourself to a day out for a massage, watch your favorite TV show, or draw yourself a nice, relaxing bubble bath. Just make sure your “treat” doesn’t sabotage your success like rewards of sweets and foods.
These types of foods will only make it more difficult for you to reach your weight loss goals. There are some healthier options for your sweet and salty cravings.
Drinking water helps keep you satisfied between meals and avoid overeating. You can also avoid hundreds of extra calories each day by choosing water instead of sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages.
This tip really speaks to me. Whenever I eat too fast, I find that I also eat more. The slower you eat, the easier your body and mind are able to register the fact that you are full. Once your body and mind alert you that you no longer are hungry and don’t need more full to satisfy you, you will stop eating and eat less. eating the proper portion sizes and stopping yourself from feeling too full will also help you lose weight.