Get More Sleep, Lose 10 Pounds?

“All you need is more sleep, and you will lose 10 pounds, easily” – Overheard at the airport.

Yes, I was eavesdropping. I can’t help it. Every time I’m in a public place, and hear people talking about fitness or nutrition topics I become intrigued. How do you think I come up with half of my article topics?

I ESPECIALLY tune in where I hear people talking about fads, guru logic, and quick fixes. Part of me wants to interject and save them from their own demise, but more importantly, it is essential as a fitness and nutrition professional to know what the average person is hearing about health through the pop media sources.

When I heard this person say the previously mentioned sleep line, I started instantly internally debating the topic. Can more sleep, in itself, lead to fat loss? Maybe…but highly unlikely from JUST adding more sleep.Image result for sleep

However, sleep IS very crucial to optimal fat loss, performance, and well-being. It can oftentimes be a missing piece of the puzzle when everything else seems to be in check.

Will Getting More Sleep Alone Lead to Fat Loss?

Short answer, NO. A caloric deficit will lead to fat loss. However, there may be some less obvious added benefits of getting enough sleep…

From a hormonal standpoint:

Studies have shown that when sleep is deprived, less than 6 hours per night, the bodies levels of ghrelin increase. Ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger, plays a huge role in how much we eat, and thus overall caloric consumption. Lack of sleep increases ghrelin and thus makes us want to eat more.

From a Captain Obvious Standpoint:

This may be a no brainer, but we also cannot eat when we are sleeping – thus less time for caloric consumption. We have all had those nights, drunkenly mindlessly eating popcorn, chips, ice cream…just because. Or is it because we are tired, but really need to see how the re-run of “Naked and Afraid” ends? (spoiler – they get out okay 90% of the time, still naked, lose 10-20 pounds, and get some arbitrary number increase in Primal Survival Rating (PSR))

By staying awake 2-3 hours longer than we probably should, we are leaving the door wide open for more mindless caloric consumption.

From a body composition standpoint:

In a very interesting study done in 2010, researchers found that when overweight participants were put on a hypo-caloric diet (only 1450 calories per day) for 2 weeks, they lost the SAME amount of WEIGHT (6.6 pounds!) regardless of sleep (Group A averaged 7.5 hours, Group B averaged 5.25 hours).Image result for sleep for fat loss

HOWEVER! The adequate sleep group lost 3.1 pounds of fat and 3.3 pounds of muscle, while the sleep-deprived group lost 1.3 pounds of fat, and 5.3 pounds of muscle.

The takeaways of this small study are:

  • Losing 6 pounds in 2 weeks is very fast, and will likely result in some muscle loss… (no bueño)
  • More importantly to this article, sleep deprivation can inhibit fat loss, and lead to more muscle loss.
  • This may be due to the importance of sleep, and it’s relation with growth hormone production, and thus muscle protein synthesis and muscle anabolism aka #GAINZ

From an exercise standpoint:

To be blunt, when you are sleep deprived, you can’t perform at your best during workouts. When you can’t perform your best you run into:

  • Fewer calories burned
  • Increased risk for injuries
  • Increased risk for even more burnout

When you aren’t getting the most out of your workouts, you aren’t stimulating your muscle to maximal potential and thus priming it for development. More muscles = higher metabolic rate = more fat burning at rest, and throughout the day (see above in regards to GH, muscle protein synthesis).Image result for sleeping in the gym

From a short-term standpoint, it’s just harder to get amped up for a workout when you are tired and feel like napping instead!

So going back to the line, “All you need is more sleep, and you will lose 10 pounds, easily”.

Is this true? Maybe.

Is sleep important for fat loss and reaching your desired body composition. Heck yes!

While it may not be as simple as JUST getting more sleep, it may be the missing piece of the puzzle, that will lead to more pieces nicely falling into place (less mindless snacking, more intense workouts, more muscle gain.)

Get your sleep, make it a priority, and no, coffee is not one of the main food groups.

How Do We Accomplish This Challenge?

Like anything else worth improving upon, we must start with the unsexy basics.

In a world of sleep pills, light blockers, therapy lamps, and other “bio-hacks”, so many people ignore the basics and jump to the easy fixes. Well, just like fat-loss pills and skinny tea’s – the hacks don’t work as well without a solid foundation of the basics.

Reverse Engineer A Consistent Routine.

For those of us with kids, we all know how important a routine is. With a toddler, all it takes is one night of allowing them to do something different and the routine can be thrown off for days.

As adults, we hate having routines because we feel like we are above them, but we are not. We need them now more than ever.

If we know need 7-8 hours of sleep as adults, it’s quite simple to create your ideal routine.

You know what time you need to wake up. So figure out 7-8 hours before that, and thats when you need to be asleep – not in bed, not thinking about sleep – actually asleep.

Wake up: 6 AM —–> Asleep between 10 and 11 PM

Easy enough.

Next, we need to focus on our winddown.

Physically Wind-down

Digestion, heart rate, and respiratory rate all play a role. If we eat too close to bedtime, our body is still physically trying to digest food, and thus can throw off our sleep hormone production.

Avoid eating 2-3 hours before going to sleep.

10-11PM – 2-3 = No food after 7-8pm

Slow your heart rate and breath down as well. Avoid doing strenuous things prior to bed. Be honest with yourself – can this wait until tomorrow or the weekend? It most likely can.

Also, make sure your room is as dark and cool as possible. Blackout curtains and a cool 65-67 degrees Fahrenheit is where you want it. Your bedroom is your cave. It’s for sleeping and sex only (more on this to come).

Mentally Wind Down

Here is a tough one these days.

Everyone is swimming in triggered soup before bed. Even if you are the type of person who makes fun of the easily offended, or outraged – you are probably doing much of the same within your own safe-space echo chamber.

Even if you are watching the news, reading news or late-night talking heads that you agree with – you are probably getting fired up.

Turn it off. Block it out. On the TV, on the phone, in your books – it’s not helping.

Don’t read or watch things that are too mentally stimulating either. The last thing you want to do is read a book before bed that has you questioning your entire investment strategy.

Hormonally Wind Down (or Up)

Some hormones help us sleep. Some don’t.

Phones and other digital screens emit blue light, blocking the production of the hormone melatonin, which creates our “go to sleep” alarm. And no, it’s not as simple as just supplementing with melatonin. Your natural production is like the finest tap of pure, 100%, uncut good stuff.

Cut your screen time 1-2 hours before bed.

Phones off by 8-9 PM.

Here’s the first bio-hack – you CAN block some of the blue light with blue blocker glasses, but just like taking melatonin supplements, it’s not a perfect cure-all.

Need some hormonal help sleeping?

Have sex. Having an orgasm has a huge sedative effect on most people. It triggers a rush of endorphins and other hormones towards the same part of your brain that regulates your arousal and your sleep-wake cycle. Endorphins are hormones that make you feel great and drop your cortisol level usually related to stress.

Cut the Bandaid Approach

Living off caffeine all day, using alcohol to wind down, and reaching for bottles of over the counter sleep supplements are bandaids over bullet holes.

If you need caffeine all day, you NEED to prioritize your sleep and get into a routine ASAP.

You should not be drinking any caffeine within 5-6 hours of bedtime.

Alcohol does not help you sleep better. It may feel like it, but all it takes is one look at a sleep tracker to realize that even a drink or two can strongly inhibit quality sleep, especially deep sleep.

The night on the left was a night were a few cocktails were had.

You can see, I was in bed for 8 hours and 41 minutes but only was asleep for 6 hours and 27 minutes. Super low REM sleep, and SUPER low Deep sleep. All, not good things.

Taking sleep aids, like melatonin, magnesium, and other sleep boosters – CAN help. However, if you are not addressing the BIG ROCKS first, they will have minimal benefit.

What would I recommend if you want to go all-in?

Again, for the third time, taking supplements will not make a huge difference if you don’t address the bigger issues like schedule, routine, and environment.

Start reverse engineering your sleep schedule now, and stick to it. This is not something that will change overnight, but like all the other un-sexy, non-quick fixes when it comes to health – it takes time and consistency.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

For more information, click HERE!

Like what you read? Want to get even more weekly wisdom, training tips, and nutrition nuggets along with up to date blog posts sent directly to your email? Sign up HERE!

 

Everything You Need to Know About Meal Timing

Meal timing, or nutrient timing, is a theme that shows up on and off in the world of nutrition. This is for good reason! Meal timing IS important no matter what some people might tell you. However, it may not be AS important as others say, or important for the reasons they convey.

First, meal timing is  NOT  the same as meal frequency.

Meal frequency is how many times you eat during the day. To keep this short and sweet, it doesn’t matter. Total calorie intake matters, and it doesn’t matter whether that is spread over 2 massive meals or 16 tiny snacks. Find what frequency works best for your lifestyle, and go with it. The end.

Meal TIMING is when you eat meals or snacks. Many good questions have been asked in regards to specific times over the last few weeks, so why not address them all here?

1) Is there a specific time of day you should stop eating?

Yes, and no. Old school thought was that if you eat anything after 7 pm (ish) – especially a carb – it will summon the insulin fairy straight into your body and cause you to store all that food as fat.

That is not true. Total calories matter.

However, eating later at night COULD lead to weight gain indirectly. First, if you eat more food at night, and you weigh yourself in the morning, your weight might be a little higher cause you have more “stuff” inside of you. That is literally just weight.

Otherwise, let’s be honest – most people aren’t late-night snacking on pea pods and carrot sticks. Nighttime snacks tend to be higher in calories, and if you aren’t paying attention to your intake, this could be leading to eating too much – but this can also happen at any time of the day.

Lastly, if you eat too close to bedtime, your body may be trying to digest food while you are trying to get to sleep. This can cause a decrease in sleep quality, which over time, can lead to a decrease in glucose tolerance, AND actually make you crave more sugary goodness the next day – again, making the battle more uphill, but not impossible.

2) If I workout first thing in the morning, do I need to eat something before?

Probably not. Unless you are training for more than 90-120 minutes, your last meal of the day yesterday is probably enough fuel to get you through.

So people can tolerate a little snack before, some can’t.

But if you are working out at 5 AM, and want time to digest your snack, so you get up at 3:30 AM to eat, which cuts into your sleep…yeah, no – just get the extra sleep, and have a little water and maybe some electrolytes during your training session.

Sacrificing sleep to eat a piece of toast because you think you NEED it for a 45-minute moderate training session is a bad idea.

3) Do I need to eat within a certain time of ending my workout?

Yes, if you are training hard.

The “anabolic window” used to be 30 minutes after a workout. You had to sprint to your car and slam a protein shake before all your gains went away. It’s not that crazy anymore.

However, if you are training hard – pushing some heavy weights, breaking down a lot of muscle, or doing sprint work – you will want to spark the recovery process ASAP, and this window is more like 2 hours. So, no need to rush, but get something in your body soon-ish.

What should you eat? – some carbs and protein. It used to be thought that the carbs were needed to help shuttle the amino acids from protein into your muscles – but actually, the carbs help mitigate the cortisol spike that you get from hard training, and shift your body into recovery mode.

The protein helps start the muscle repair process which is important because this is when your muscles actually grow. How much protein? Shoot for .18g/pound post-workout. 

4) What about eating carbs only around your workouts?

This is a good strategy for some people, but not necessary. It is based on the idea that carbs are fuel for training, so you want to fuel up before and after your most active part of the day, and eat fewer carbs when you are less active.

If calories are controlled, this actually doesn’t matter.

However, if you are doing long training sessions or running a marathon, then yes, you will need some carbs to replenish your glycogen.

Some people feel charged up when eating carbs before a workout, so they are able to train harder. Some people feel sluggish if they eat carbs before a workout. You have to find what is right for YOU.

Also – for some people, this simple strategy just helps them control calories more, so it defacto works, but there is nothing magic about it.

Don’t overthink this stuff…

At the end of the day, you need to figure out what works best for your schedule, your body, and your lifestyle. Play around with timing, but keep it consistent for a week or so before making a judgment call on if it was good or bad for you.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

Like what you read? Want to get even more weekly wisdom, training tips, and nutrition nuggets along with up to date blog posts sent directly to your email? Sign up HERE!

Time to End the Passive Acceptance of Declining Health

Getting old, weak, and frail.

Getting weak and fat.

Getting sick more constantly.

Getting older and sleeping less.

Feeling like trash after eating a huge meal.

These seem to be accepted as the “norm” by many, but why?

While we cannot stop the clock from aging us in years, we can slow down and even reverse everything that comes with it.

As we age, we get busier. We have jobs, kids, more responsibilities, etc. I get it.

But why does this all of a sudden give rise to the idea that gaining weight, getting weak, and having a lower quality of life is part of the path we are meant to walk?

I work with and have worked with, many clients in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and even 80’s who have improved their overall health by leaps and bounds.

A passive life is a life doomed for suboptimal health and the only person you can truly blame for this decline is yourself. This is the first step to righting the ship. This is not meant to shame you, this is meant to motivate you. You are to accept responsibility for getting yourself to where you are now, and thus you can get yourself out!\

Change is now, and change is good.

1) Accept that your current state, if you don’t like it, is from years of passiveness.

Maybe you got caught up in a job, raising a family, etc. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it is just what probably happened. You let yourself go. The first step is realizing it, and deciding that today is the day to make a change.

It’s like that co-worker down the hall who has seemed to always have that persistent cough and sniffle. They have accepted that this is what they will have on a day to day basis, and maybe it doesn’t bug them anymore. Meanwhile, you just want to march down there with a box of tissues and cold medicine because they clearly aren’t doing anything to fix it.

Look at yourself from the perspective of others. What do they see?

Audit your lifestyle. Are you happy with your health? Your life? How do you feel when you get out of bed?

You don’t need a fancy gym, tons of super expensive food, or magic powders and pills to change it either – you just need to put your foot down and make a commitment – NOW.

2) Get Active

Start with walking. If you can’t walk because of injuries – get on a bike. Most people know I am a strength training junkie, but if ALL you can do is walk to start, that’s awesome. Begin strength training as soon as possible. Walking is important, sure, but strength training is the literal fountain of youth. All you need to start is your body weight. More on that in a second…

Work on increasing your cardiovascular endurance by walking even 5 minutes a day. Start SOMEWHERE. By just moving a little more each day, you will start seeing the benefits, and start the ball rolling towards reversing your self-neglect from years of no work.

Get an inexpensive pedometer like this one -> http://amzn.to/2hNpsK9 and track your steps. Aim to increase your daily average by 10% until you consistently hit 10,000+ steps per day.

To be honest, exercise and movement don’t matter as much as diet. It’s the truth that no one wants to hear.

However, it is usually the easier of the two to adopt and can lead to a snowball effect of health, eventually triggering changes in diet. So start moving more, and start thinking about some little changes you could make down the road…

3) Get Strong

Weight training is not just for people in their 20s and 30s. Like I stated earlier, I have helped many people, 50+ years old, get stronger and thus improve their quality of life and increase chances for longer independence well into their 80’s and 90’s.

Image result for summary of adaptations to aging and resistance training

Start with bodyweight work, and machines. Track your reps and weights, and try to improve in some way each week. Even one more rep, or 2 more pounds, over time can make a huge difference.

What’s the number one reason people need to move into an assisted living home or lose their independence?

Because they cannot stand up on their own. Strengthen your legs, your core, your grip, your arms, and you will be on the path to longevity instantly.

If you are totally new to strength training, have no fear – READ HERE

Once you get the movement patterns down, you need to actually challenge yourself enough and you can develop muscular strength at any age. Again, see the table above as to why this is important! Studies have shown that older adults need to lift in 70-85% of their 1RM range for strength. What does this mean?

Let’s say the MOST weight you can lift off the floor – the deadlift – is 100 pounds for 1 rep. This is you 1 rep max, or 1RM.

In order to build strength, you will need to train with at least 70 pounds on your deadlift for multiple repetitions. This should be a somewhat challenging weight, that only allows you to get 3-5 reps per set, the golden standard range for strength training.

*Depending on age, mobility, and skills, there are MANY ways to train the deadlift movement pattern, so don’t think that you HAVE to be able to pull a barbell from the floor – find yourself a great coach that will work with you!

This isn’t the ONLY weight range you should and can lift in, as science has shown that even at 50% of 1RM the body will experience changes in muscle function – aka – good things happen.

The key is that you are lifting a weight that challenges you for the appropriate amount of repetitions.

3) Eat “like a grown up”.

This is preached by world-renowned strength coach, Dan John. Eat like a grown up.

Lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, high fiber carbs, and healthy fats – these should be the staples of your diet.

Drink mostly water only.

Cut the fast-food, skip the sugary foods, and lay off the booze a little – and you will instantly find your health, immune function, sleep cycle, and life improving.

Start with one meal at a time or even one side dish at a time. Swap out french fries for veggies, or pop tarts for eggs. Small changes make for big results.

We really don’t need to overcomplicate nutrition and what to eat and what not to eat – I think most people know this. The more important thing to focus on is WHY we eat it. It’s easy, cheap, fast, and pleasurable – sounds like the world’s oldest profession – not something most people want to associate with.

Create your environment to support your goals. Don’t bring crap food into the house, and crap food will less likely be consumed. Mind-blowing stuff! Look at what your current portion size of foods is as well. If you need to lose weight, the most simple place to start is literally just to eat 10% less at each meal. Don’t change another thing.

Just plate your food as you normally would, and then remove 10% of it. Seriously. Try it.

We need to stop living passively in our lives. We are where we are right now because of ourselves, no one else.

And in the end – it’s not even always about us. To be there, actively,  for our spouses, kids, grandkids, but most importantly – ourselves – is the best investment one can make for the future.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

For more information, click HERE!

Like what you read? Want to get even more weekly wisdom, training tips, and nutrition nuggets along with up to date blog posts sent directly to your email? Sign up HERE!

 

 

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