The Unsung Hero Of Fat Loss!

SLEEP

As you begin scrambling for the latest and most scientific information relating to stripping off those last few layers of body fat that seem to cling to you for dear life, you’re likely coming across a wide range of content concerning the best foods for belly-fat loss.

Maybe you’re also finding the best exercises to help boost the metabolism, the best workout designs that promise to add more muscle definition, and the best times to be eating if you hope to maximize the amount of fat you burn throughout the day.

There’s no question about it, what you eat and how you exercise are two significant contributors to the overall success rate you see. But after that, it’s important to not overlook some of the other contributing factors that can sway the type of progress you experience.

Make no mistake, achieving maximum fat loss and getting that “ripped” look that you see on the cover of your favourite health and fitness magazine is a 24/7 endeavour. If you aren’t on top of the game at all times, there is a large chance you’ll falter.

One specific component that very often gets overlooked is that of sleep. No one ever thinks of sleep being a factor in success since, after all, you are barely conscious while you sleep. How much damage could you really do to your progress while you are sleeping?

The answer is that it’s not what you do while you’re sleeping per se, it’s the quality and quantity of sleep you get. Let’s dig a bit further so you can see the profound connection sleep has with your weight loss.

INCREASED DAYTIME CORTISOL LEVELS

One of the first major problems that are associated with a lack of sleep is an increased daytime cortisol level. As you may have already known, cortisol is a hormone that is released within the body that works to break down body tissues. In times of stress, you will find cortisol levels very high since the body is getting ready for the fight or flight response mechanism.

Dieting itself puts the body in a stressed state since it is taking in fewer calories than it would ideally like to function; therefore you’re already at risk for such problems as muscle mass loss (which occurs when high cortisol levels begin breaking down the body’s tissues).

In one study put on by the Laboratory of Physiology in Belgium, researchers noted that those who were shorting themselves of sleep noticed higher afternoon and early evening cortisol levels than those who were not.

IMPAIRED GLUCOSE CONTROL

Have you ever found that after a late night out or a night of simply tossing and turning where sleep was hard to come by, the next day you were craving carbohydrates like a pregnant woman a few days before delivery?

One study conducted in Chicago noted that on-going sleep deprivation is responsible for a number of changes in the hormonal release and metabolism of humans, especially increased hunger and appetite.

Often in very fatigued states the body senses this fatigue and perceives a low supply of energy as a result, kick-starting internal drives to eat (hunger).

In addition to this, the researchers also pointed out that sleep restriction can decrease glucose and insulin sensitivity, two of the most critical factors that are involved in the development or prevention of diabetes as well as regulating the satiety you feel after a meal is eaten.

While you may think staying up for that extra hour to catch your favourite TV isn’t really all that detrimental, if the truth is told it could be dramatically increasing the chances that you develop diabetes.

measuring visceral fat
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INCREASED VISCERAL ADIPOSE TISSUE

For most people on a fat loss diet, the visceral fat is the fat that’s most important to lose because it’s the type that will set you up for the greatest overall health threats.

While you may see subcutaneous fat gains easier (as this is the fat directly under the skin), a high level of fat surrounding the organs is really going to be problematic and could eventually be life threatening.

Researchers from the John Carroll University used a continuous dark versus continuous light exposure test to assess the impacts on a group of animals. They wanted to measure melatonin levels, the metabolic parameters, the circadian rhythm activity patterns, as well as any behaviour changes that took place when animals were either placed in a standard condition with 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness, 24 hours of darkness, or 24 hours of continuous light.

After the study was completed the researchers noticed that the 24 hour light animals demonstrated a significantly greater visceral adipose tissue than the other two groups who did have darkness hours as well as those who were always exposed to light noted a lower level of overall activity and started to become extremely irritable and easily excited.

The body naturally wants to maintain its normal circadian rhythm with proper light and dark periods for wakefulness and sleep, and when these are altered; negative events take place with regards to body fatness and overall health.

In another study performed in the Czech Republic and published in Physiological Research, researchers found that optimal body weight was strongly associated with test subjects who maintained seven hours of sleep each night, making that the guideline that you should try and shoot for.

While some rare individuals may find they feel fine on much lower levels of sleep (5-6 hours) and others may find they need a great deal more (9+ hours per night), for most adults living a regular lifestyle with added training, 7-8 hours of sleep is optimal.

Generally the more intense and frequent your training sessions are, the more sleep you may require in order to recover properly. In these situations if 8-9 hours is not manageable, short afternoon naps can sometimes do the trick.

SLEEP AND EXERCISE PERFORMANCE

Finally, you must not overlook the connection between the amount of sleep you get and your overall exercise performance. When you are short on sleep, it’s quite typical to find yourself struggling to maintain the usual level of exercise that you normally would tolerate quite well.

In addition to this, since sleep is the primary time the body recovers from exercise, it’s also when you will be rebuilding your torn muscle tissues. Without this recovery time, you’re going to go into your next exercise session at a disadvantage.

One of the key recommendations for combating over training syndrome, which will quickly take you away from your workouts and limit further fat loss, is getting quality sleep. Failing to do so could mean you having to take time away from your program, which will without question of a doubt, slow you down.

So make sure you’re getting your 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Not only are you going to feel better, think clearer, and be much stronger when it comes to battling those food cravings that are so common with fat loss diets, but you’ll also really be helping promote better long-term health as well.

REFERENCES
  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. Backx, FJ. Et al. (2009). Evaluation and opportunities in overtraining approaches. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. Dec;80(4):756-64.

 

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Good Morning

Starting your day on the right note can go a long way toward making every day seem like a Friday.

Try these 4 easy steps:

  • Activate your mind – When you wake up, try reading a positive quote or spiritual reading or a great motivational blog.
  • Be grateful – Find something that you could be great for the day. Family, friends, breathing or no deadlines are a few that come to mind.
  • Body activation – Do a few stretches, as your core temperature rises body starts releasing hormones and endorphins which lift the mood and limbers up the joints. If you want a feel good booster, do a light 12min workout. (Will post a very easy to follow sample routine)
  • Energy booster – Breakfast is vital, it breaks the fast and gets the metabolic system stoked and ready to burn fat. I know there are a few reading this who do not like or can’t cope with eating so early. There is no excuse for good morningmorning nutrition. Make a smoothie or a shake, that way you kill two birds with one stone, nutrition and hydration.

Keep reading our post for more healthful ideas and recipes. You could also follow GSNBody on Facebook and Instagram for motivation and great physiques.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to write.

Chimmichurri chicken bake

Ingredients

  • CHIMMICHURRI PASTE:
  • 2 handful parsley, no stems
  • 2 handful fresh coriander
  • 1 handful baby spinach
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs lime or lemon juice
  • 1 red chilli (no seeds)
  • 20 g roasted almonds
  • FOR THE CHICKEN:
  • 6 chicken pieces (thighs and legs)
  • 500 g baby potatoes
  • 2 shallots, halved
  • 30 ml canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 100 g vine tomatoes

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Combine the chimmichurri ingredients together in a blender to form a paste.

Put the chicken pieces in a separate bowl and add 3/4 of the chimmichurri paste and mix until the chicken pieces are fully coated then place them in a large baking tray.

Cut the baby potatoes in half and coat in oil, salt and pepper then scatter them evenly around the chicken pieces, toss in the garlic pieces.

Place the tray with chicken and potatoes in the oven for around 30 -40 minutes.

Once the chicken has been in the oven for around 30 minutes add the vine tomatoes onto the tray and then put the tray back into the oven until the chicken and potatoes are cooked – about 10 minutes.

Naked Chocolate Mousse With Hazelnut Dust

Healthy low carb cheat

Servings: 4
Ingredients
• 1 heaped Tbsp chia seeds
• 1 x 400 g can coconut milk
• 2 Tbs coconut oil
• 2 Tbs raw cacao powder
• 3 Tbs maple syrup (or honey or rice malt syrup)
• ½ tsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tsp warm water (optional)
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
TO GARNISH:
• ¼ cup finely chopped roasted hazelnuts
• fresh raspberries (optional)
Method
• Grind the chia seeds roughly in a pestle and mortar.
• Add the chia seeds and all of the remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl, whisk until smooth and then divide between four small serving glasses or pretty cups.
• Leave to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or until serving.
• Garnish with roasted hazelnuts and fresh raspberries.

Fishcakes with barley salad and lemon drizzle

Mackerel and sardines are very good sources of omega 3 fatty acids. They play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
Oats are a good source of soluble fibre- also known as oat beta-glucan. Research suggests that the soluble fibre in oats may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by reducing cholesterol levels, specifically LDL cholesterol.

 

Servings 4

Ingredients

Fishcakes:

  • 1 can (400 g) of mackerel (middle cut)
  • ¼ cup oat bran
  • ½ cup grated carrot
  • 1 free-range egg
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 10g chopped fresh herbs (chives, dill, parsley)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2Tbs avocado oil

Barley Salad

  • 1 cup cooked pearl barley, cold
  • 40g watercress
  • ½ medium cucumber
  • 1 avocado
  • 50g almonds, raw and chopped
  • 50g mixed bean sprouts
  • 100g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 50g sliced red onion
  • 50g basil
  • 10g fennel
  • 100g feta
  • salt and pepper

Lemon Drizzle

  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1tsp smooth Dijon mustard
  • 4Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tsp chopped chives
  • salt and pepper

Method

Fishcakes

  • Drain the mackerel of any liquid, and put it into a large mixing bowl.
  • Using a fork, shred the fish up until it’s fine and there are no large chunks.
  • Add the oat bran, carrot, egg, lemon zest, and chopped herbs, and mix well.
  • Leave the mixture to stand for about 30 minutes in the fridge, so the oat bran soaks up excess liquid in the mixture.
  • Separate the mixture into 8 equal sized balls, and shape them into patties.
  • Season the fishcakes with salt and pepper.
  • Put a large non-stick frying pan onto a medium heat and drizzle the oil into the pan.
  • Once the pan is hot, add the fishcakes and fry on the first side for around 2 minutes, until golden brown. Turn them over and repeat on the other side.

Barley Salad

  • Wash the cucumber, tomatoes and herbs.
  • Using a peeler, shave the cucumber into ribbons.
  • Cut the avocado in half, remove the skin and pip and cut the avocado into chunks.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the barley, cucumber ribbons, almonds, bean sprouts, tomatoes, onion, tear the fennel and basil up and add to the salad.
  • Assemble the salad on a platter. Spread the barley salad mixture on the bottom of the platter.
  • Add the chunks of avocado, and crumble the feta over the top of the salad. Sprinkle the watercress on top of the salad.

Lemon Drizzle

  • Whisk together the lemon juice, zest and mustard.
  • Drizzle the olive oil into the lemon mixture whilst whisking.

Mix in the chopped chives, and season with salt & pepper.

Chicken cacciatore with potatoes

Servings 4

Ingredients

45ml olive oil

8 chicken pieces

1 onion, cut into wedges

1 410g tin Italian chopped tomatoes

125ml water

500g potatoes, peeled, boiled and quartered

30ml fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped plus extra for serving

20ml fresh thyme, leaves only

250g button mushrooms, sliced

20 Kalamata olives

Method

  • Heat the oil in a casserole and brown the chicken, for about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and keep warm.
  • In the same pot, add the onions, and sauté until translucent. Add the tomatoes, water and cook covered for about 10 minutes.
  • Return the chicken to the pot together with the potatoes and herbs. Simmer covered until the chicken is cooked through, for about 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and olives and continue to cook until the mushrooms are cooked. Sprinkle with extra parsley and serve.

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Shrimp & Black Bean Salad

Quick and easy no-cook recipe.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

¼ cup cider vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced chipotle chilli in adobo, or more to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon salt

500g peeled and deveined cooked shrimp

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes

1 large bell pepper, chopped

¼ cup chopped scallions

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

 

Method

 

  1. Whisk vinegar, oil, chipotle, cumin and salt in a large bowl. Add shrimp, beans, tomatoes, bell pepper, scallions and cilantro; toss to coat.
  2. Serve room temperature or chilled.

Chili-Rubbed Steaks & Pan Salsa

Serves: 4

Any cut of steak will work for this recipe, I especially like the flavour of rib-eye with these seasonings; look for steak that has been thinly cut.

Ingredients

450g 1½cm thick steaks, trimmed and cut into 4 portions

2 teaspoon chilli powder

2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 plum tomatoes, diced

4 teaspoons lime juice

2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Method

  1. Sprinkle both sides of steak with chilli powder and ¼ teaspoon per steak. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and cook, turning once, 1 to 2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a plate, cover with foil and let rest while you make the salsa.
  2. Add tomatoes, lime juice and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt to the pan and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes soften, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro and any accumulated juices from the steaks.
  3. Serve the steaks topped with the salsa and salad.

Lemon & Dill Chicken

Serves: 4

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1-11/4 pounds)

Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil, divided

¼ cup finely chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 teaspoons flour

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided

1 tablespoon lemon juice

 

Method

  1. Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 11/2 teaspoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear until well browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining 11/2 teaspoons oil to the pan. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk broth, flour, 1 tablespoon dill and lemon juice in a measuring cup and add to pan. Cook, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan; reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter. Season sauce with salt and pepper and spoon over the chicken.
  4. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill.