Debunking Some Diet Myths

There are countless myths about diet foods telling you how to lose weight and shed dozens of pounds is just a matter of weeks. However, when something sounds too good to be true, it typically is. Being able to recognize these common myths is important as you research your weight-loss strategy.

  • Eating at Night Makes You Fat – Many diets tell you not to eat after a certain time in the evening. They say the body will store more fat because it is not burned off with any activity. A study at the Dunn Nutrition Centre in Cambridge suggests otherwise. Volunteers were placed in a whole body calorimeter, which measures calories burned and stored. They were fed with a large lunch and small evening meal for one test period, then a small lunch and large evening meal during a second test period. The results revealed the large meal eaten late at night did not make the body store more fat. It’s not when you eat that’s important, but the total amount you consume in a 24-hour period. There is no difference in the quality of calories based on the time you eat them. The only important thing is the total number your body consumes each day. As a trainer to elite athletes and models, I do suggest that they avoid starchy carbs in the latter part of the day, and focus on eating fibrous carbs after midday.
  • Rice and Beans Must Be Eaten Together – There is no digestive partnership between rice and beans; the nutrients of these two can be absorbed both together and separately.
  • Gaining Weight due to Poor Digestion – If your body is unable to process something, it will actually lead to weight gain and nutrient deficiency, rather than losing weight.
  • Microwaving Eliminates Nutrients – The temperature at which you cook food can affect nutrient integrity, but not the tool you use. In fact, microwaves cook things so quickly that many of the nutrients are retained.
  • Gluten-free Diets for All – Gluten intolerance and sensitivity are real medical conditions, but for people without those issues, gluten is perfectly healthy, and has never been directly linked to any negative health issues.
  • Fasting is Good for You – Juice cleanses and physical fasting can be a good way to re-set your appetite, but its ability to detoxify the body is no better than normal food, considering that the body has very powerful organs that can detoxify the body without any help from your dietary choices.
  • Low-fat or no-fat diets are good for you – Leading dietician Lyndel Costain says: ‘People tend to think they need a low-fat diet to lose weight, but you should still have a third of your calories coming from fat.’ The body needs fat for energy, tissue repair and to transport vitamins A, D, E and K around the body.
  • Crash dieting or fasting makes you lose weight – This may be true in the short term, but ultimately it can hinder weight loss. The loss of lean muscle causes a fall in your basal metabolic rate – the amount of calories your body needs on a daily basis. This means your body will need fewer calories than it did previously, making weight gain more likely once you stop dieting. It’s also why exercise is recommended in any weight-loss plan to build muscle and maintain your metabolic rate.
  • A slow metabolism prevents weight loss – This is a common myth among dieters who are struggling to lose weight. Studies have shown that resting metabolism – the number of calories used by the body at rest – increases as people become fatter. In other words, the larger you are, the more calories you need to keep your body going and the higher your metabolism. Clare Grace, research dietitian at the Queen Mary University of London, says: ‘Weight gain occurs when the number of calories eaten is greater than the number used up by the body. ‘Unfortunately, people are becoming increasingly sedentary, burning off less and less calories, and it seems likely this is a crucial factor in the increasing numbers struggling to control their weight.’
  • Fattening foods equal rapid weight gain – Believe it or not, true weight gain is a slow process. You need to eat an extra 3500 calories to gain one pound of body fat (and vice versa for losing it). Lyndel Costain explains: ‘If the scales say you’ve gained a few pounds after a meal out, it’s largely due to fluid, which will resolve itself – as long as you don’t get fed up, and keep overeating!

‘A lot of people feel guilty and think they’ve blown their diet if they eat rich foods. But, how can a 50g chocolate bar make you instantly put on pounds?

‘For long-term weight control, balance high-fat foods with healthy food and activity.’

  • Low-fat foods help you lose weight – ‘Low-fat’ or ‘fat-free’ doesn’t necessarily mean low calorie or calorie-free, warns Lyndel Costain. Check the calorie content of foods, especially cakes, biscuits, crisps, ice creams and ready meals. Extra sugars and thickeners are often added to boost flavour and texture, so calorie content may be only a bit less, or similar to standard products. Foods labelled low-fat should contain no more than 3g fat per 100g. ‘Watching the quantity is important,’ adds nutritionist Alison Sullivan. ‘People tend to have half-fat spread but then use twice as much. ‘And things like fruit pastilles may be low in fat, but are high in sugar which turns to fat. ‘With low fat foods, look to see where else the calories might come from.’
  • Cholesterol is bad for you – Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is made mostly by the liver. It can be bad for us, because it forms deposits that line and clog our arteries. Clogged arteries contribute to heart disease. But we all need some blood cholesterol because it’s used to build cells and make vital hormones – and there’s good and bad cholesterol. Lyndel Costain explains: ‘Saturated fats found in food like meat, cheese, cream, butter and processed pastries tend to raise low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, which delivers cholesterol to the arteries. ‘High density lipoprotein (HDL), or ‘good’ cholesterol, transports cholesterol away from the arteries, back to the liver.’ So choose unsaturated fats such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.
  • Banana myth – Many people believe bananas are fattening. Bananas are low in fat and are packed with potassium. There is only 0.5g fat and 95 calories in a banana.
  • Vegetarians can’t build muscle -Vegetarians can be as muscular as meat eaters by getting their protein from vegetable sources such as cheese, nuts, pulses and grains. Claire MacEvilly says: ‘You need protein to build muscle, but too much can lead to long-term side effects.
  • You always gain weight when you stop smoking – Some people gain weight when they stop smoking, some lose weight and some stay the same. While nicotine does increase the body’s metabolism, its effect is small. It’s far healthier to be an overweight non-smoker than not bother giving up because you think you’ll put on weight. Alison Sullivan says: ‘Where people tend to fall down is when they replace a cigarette with comfort food. ‘Chewing sugar-free gum or snacking on vegetable strips kept in the fridge is a good idea because you can have these instead of reaching for the cookie tin.
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Other Factors That Influence Scale Weight

Understanding that the weight you get from a scale is influenced by various factors can help you better comprehend why the scale can be your biggest foe in the “Battle Of The Bulge”.

 

Scale weight changes constantly throughout the day. Any figure that the scale reports to you is merely a snapshot, a moment in time. The number doesn’t take a whole lot of time to change, and it doesn’t need a reason to shift. Dietician Alexandra Caspero showed you can gain almost two pounds in an hour without any apparent cause at all.

Scale weight is subject to the whims of water. Your intake of H20, or output of sweat, can cause your total body weight to shift up or down by nearly half a percentage point within any given day, according to John Castellani, a researcher at the U.S. Army’s Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.

Your water/salt balance can cause seasonal shifts in your weight, too. When the mercury climbs in the spring and summer, your body uses a hormone called aldosterone to retain more fluid. So what looks like summertime backslide in progress might just be your body’s natural reaction to the warmer weather.

Lastly, if you’re not taking in enough fluids, then your body will hold on to more of them for you. “Mild dehydration may cause fluid retention, which can increase scale weight, “ explains Dr. Melina Jampolis.

 

Scale weight makes your stress an even bigger deal. Numerous studies show a relationship between elevated stress levels and higher weights. This 5-year long study of more than 5,000 people in Australia found that those who felt the most stress also gained the most weight during that time span.

Stress is also one of the main triggers of binge eating. Combine that with negative reinforcement from the scale and you have a damned unfortunate vicious cycle: Stress makes you eat. Eating increases your weight. Your weight makes you stress.

Making matters even worse, stress increases cortisol production, which has been linked to higher levels of abdominal fat in both women and men.

 

Scale weight measures gut content. Motility—the polite way of saying “how frequently you poop”—matters when you measure your scale weight. This rate varies from person to person. Your regularity can change based on what, and how often, you eat. (People with an extremely slow rate are said to have gastroparesis, or delayed gastric emptying.) How much you chew your food, whether or not you drink water with meals, and how much you are up and about walking can also influence it.

 

Scale weight is as subject to change as your flight schedule. Air travel can impact your weight by disrupting not only your circadian rhythm but also the rhythm of the bacteria in your gut microbiome.

A study published in Cell found when mice were subjected to jet-lag-like conditions, the bacteria in their digestive systems changed and the animals gained weight. The researchers found that similar changes took place in the microbiomes of two people who traveled by air from the U.S. to Israel.

In non-scientific terms, you might notice bloating when you travel, which regulates within 24 hours. Are you actually gaining weight while you’re in the air? Of course, not. But the scale might have you believe otherwise.

 

Scale weight rewards cheaters. You could hack your way down to a target number through crash dieting and stimulants. But you definitely won’t be healthier for having done it.

“You can technically lose weight by cutting your calories by half and eating minimally nutritious, highly processed junk food. But that misses the point,” says Las Vegas-based dietitian Andy Bellatti. “Sure, the number on the scale will be lower, but you probably won’t feel good and you won’t have much energy to engage in physical activity.”

 

Scale weight does not show the bigger picture. Your weight can fluctuate significantly due to a single meal, making you stress unnecessarily.

Say you’re on a weight loss plan and making progress. So you treat yourself to a heartier meal while you’re out with some friends. That’s a totally normal and healthy thing to do—reward should be part of a weight loss plan. But the next time you step onto the scale, the number you see could try to convince you otherwise.

“The scale plays a huge role in what we call ‘what the hell?’ weeks,” explains Born Fitness Head Coach B.J. Ward.  “People will retain water after an ‘off-plan’ meal, which tips the scale higher. Then they’ll have an emotional reaction.”

People wind up thinking that they aren’t making progress when really they’re just a little bloated. A similar effect can happen among people doing any type of carb cycling, Ward explains. You are going to weigh more after a high-carb day than a low-carb day. In either case, Ward says individual measurements aren’t what matters. The overall trend line is.

“Daily weigh-ins tends to produce mental static,” Bellati says. “Most people don’t know that a high sodium meal the night before can result in retention of 3 or 4 pounds (up to 2kg) of water the next morning, which most people mistake for true weight gain. They then enter an unhelpful and unnecessary spiral of frustration, guilt and self-blame.”

 

Scale weight is blind to what really matters. The final—and biggest—nail in the “should I sweat over what the scale says?” coffin is this: The scale can’t tell you what you’re really made of.

Plenty of people can step on a scale and hit a low number but be far from healthy. There’s even a term for it: “skinny fat.” On the flip side, the scale—and its derivative BMI—is prejudiced against people who carry more muscle. Which is why BMI will tell you that every player on the Denver Broncos is overweight or obese, even though our own eyes can tell us that Von Miller is friggin’ jacked.

Muscle and bone are denser than fat. Stronger people may weigh the exact same—or more than—fatter, weaker people. The stronger people aren’t worse off because they’re heavier. In fact, strength is connected to longevity. The raw number on the doesn’t tell you the body fat percentage of the person standing on top of it.

Two people might both weigh 180 pounds. One is 10% body fat. The other is 20%. The first will be lean and muscular. The second will be soft and more prone to a variety of health problems (because of the higher body fat percentage). But the scale doesn’t know or tell you the difference.

All of these reasons are why no good dietician or coach would ever suggest that you focus on scale weight alone. “I think of health as a 20-piece puzzle,” Bellatti says. “Scale weight is just one piece.”

Jessica Robertson, RD at Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training, agrees. “Weight is one tool, but never something that I focus on or set specific goals around.”

Winning the Battle of the Scale

When you want to make a positive transformation with your body, start by letting go of the temptation to allow a single number to determine your success or failure. Then get a clear picture of your starting point.

The four-part assessment above will tell you a lot about your body. But you’ll also want to examine your habits: how well you are eating, sleeping and hydrating, and how much activity you get in a typical week.

For example, one of our new coaching clients will keep a food journal for a few days when they are first starting out. The journal itself is simple—you just write down everything you eat in a day—but admittedly time-intensive. Which is why we don’t require or even recommend that people continue to do it over the long-term (although some find that they like journaling, and do keep doing it).

The goal with these few days of journaling is just to learn what you are really taking in during a typical day. Sometimes you’ll be able to spot hidden sources of calories in unexpected places.

“I recall a situation where it turned out that a client was adding about 600 calories to a salad via a ‘healthy’ vinaigrette dressing,” Bellatti says. “Once we addressed that, the number on the scale started to move.”

You’ll want to learn about your sleep habits, too, because numerous studies have shown that people who get fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night are more likely to be obese.

When we cut our sleep duration short, our bodies produce more ghrelin—a.k.a. the “hunger hormone.” This happens after just one night of sleep deprivation. Making matters worse, when we’re tired, we’re more likely to crave high-calorie foods. So the more we can do to improve our sleep duration and quality, the better we’ll be able to reach our weight loss goals.

Just like it has with sleep, science shows that your hydration level strongly influences your overall body weight—and not just water weight. An examination of nearly 10,000 Americans spanning three years found a clear association between inadequate hydration and obesity. So yes, the old “8 glasses a day” rule isn’t a bad goal. But if you’re the type who doesn’t love the non-taste of H20, take heart: you can also increase your hydration levels by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.

We’ve talked a lot about your body and what influences it. But there’s one other critical aspect of sustainable weight loss we haven’t discussed: Your mind. Mindset is a key determinant of weight loss success. Bellatti says that one way to get your mind right is to start appreciating your body, no matter what state it’s in currently.

“When you appreciate something, you want to take care of it,” Bellatti says. “Something as simple as changing the thought process from ‘I hate my body’ to ‘I want my body to operate at its best’ provides an important shift.”

25 Evidence-Based Weight Loss Tips

The weight loss “industry” is full of myths.

Over the years, however, scientists have found a number of strategies that seem to be effective.

 

Here are 25 weight loss tips that are actually evidence-based.

  1. Drink Water, Especially Before Meals

It is often claimed that drinking water can help with weight loss, and this is true.

Drinking water can boost metabolism by 24-30% over a period of 1-1.5 hours, helping you burn off a few more calories (12).

One study showed that drinking a 500ml of water about a half an hour before meals helped dieters eat fewer calories and lose 44% more weight (3).

  1. Eat Eggs For Breakfast

Eating whole eggs can have all sorts of benefits, including helping you lose weight.

Studies show that replacing a grain-based breakfast with eggs can help you eat fewer calories for the next 36 hours, and lose more weight and more body fat (45).

If you can’t eat eggs for some reason, then that’s fine. Any source of quality protein for breakfast should do the trick.

  1. Drink Coffee (Preferably Black)

Coffee has been unfairly demonized. Quality coffee is loaded with antioxidants, and can have numerous health benefits.

Studies show that the caffeine in coffee can boost metabolism by 3-11%, and increase fat burning by up to 10-29% (678).

Just make sure NOT to add a bunch of sugar or other high-calorie ingredients to it. That will completely negate any benefit you get from the coffee.

  1. Drink Green Tea

Like coffee, green tea also has many benefits, one of them being weight loss.

Green tea contains small amounts of caffeine, but it is also loaded with powerful antioxidants called catechins, which are also believed to work synergistically with the caffeine to enhance fat burning (910).

Although the evidence is mixed, there are many studies showing that green tea (either as a beverage or a green tea extract supplement) can help you lose weight (1112).

measuring visceral fat

  1. Cook With Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is very healthy. It is high in special fats called medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently than other fats.

These fats have been shown to boost metabolism by 120 calories per day, and also reduce your appetite so that you eat up to 256 fewer calories per day (1314).

Keep in mind that this is not about adding coconut oil on top of what you’re already eating, it is about replacing some of your current cooking fats with coconut oil.

  1. Take a Glucomannan Supplement

A fibre called glucomannan has been shown to cause weight loss in several studies.

This is a type of fibre that absorbs water and “sits” in your gut for a while, making you feel more full and helping you eat fewer calories (15).

Studies have shown that people who supplement with glucomannan lose a bit more weight than those who don’t (16).

  1. Cut Back on Added Sugar

Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet, and most people are eating way too much of it.

Studies show that sugar (and high fructose corn syrup) consumption is strongly associated with the risk of obesity, as well as diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and others ( 171819).

If you want to lose weight, you should be cutting back on added sugars. Just make sure to read labels, because even so-called health foods can be loaded with sugar.

  1. Eat Less Refined Carbs

Refined carbohydrates are usually sugar, or grains that have been stripped of their fibrous, nutritious parts (includes white bread and pasta).

Studies show that refined carbs can spike blood sugar rapidly, leading to hunger, cravings and increased food intake a few hours later. Eating refined carbs is strongly linked to obesity (202122).

If you’re going to eat carbs, make sure to eat them with their natural fibre.

  1. Go on a Low Carb Diet

If you want to get all the benefits of carb restriction, then consider taking this all the way and going on a low carb diet.

Numerous studies show that such a diet (or “way of eating”) can help you lose 2-3 times as much weight as a standard low-fat diet, while improving your health at the same time (232425).

  1. Use Smaller Plates

Using smaller plates has been shown to help people automatically eat fewer calories in some studies. Weird trick, but it seems to work (26).

  1. Exercise Portion Control or Count Calories

Portion control (eating less) or counting calories can be very useful, for obvious reasons (27).

There are also studies showing that keeping a food diary and writing down what you eat, or taking pictures of all your meals, can help you lose weight (2829).

Anything that increases your awareness of what you are eating is likely to be useful.

  1. Keep Healthy Food Around in Case You Get Hungry

Keeping healthy food close by can help prevent you from eating something unhealthy if you become excessively hungry.

A few snacks that are easily portable and simple to prepare include whole fruits, a handful of nuts, baby carrots, yogurt and a hardboiled egg (or two).

  1. Eat Spicy Foods

Spicy foods like Cayenne pepper contain Capsaicin, a compound that can boost metabolism and reduce your appetite slightly (3031).

  1. Do Aerobic Exercise

Doing aerobic exercise (cardio) is an excellent way to burn calories and improve your physical and mental health.

It appears to be particularly effective to lose belly fat, the unhealthy fat that tends to build up around your organs and cause metabolic disease (3233).

  1. Lift Weights

One of the worst side effects of dieting, is that it tends to cause muscle loss and metabolic slowdown, often referred to as starvation mode (3435).

The best way to prevent this from happening is to do some sort of resistance exercise, like lifting weights. Studies show that weight lifting can help keep your metabolism high, and prevent you from losing precious muscle mass (3637).

Of course, it’s not just important to lose fat. You also want to make sure that what is beneath looks good. Doing some sort of resistance exercise is critical for that.

  1. Eat More Fibre

Fibre is often recommended for the purpose of weight loss. Although the evidence is mixed, some studies show that fibre (especially viscous fibre) can increase satiety and help you control your weight over the long term (3839).

  1. Eat More Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables and fruits have several properties that make them effective for weight loss.

They contain few calories, but a lot of fibre. They are also rich in water, which gives them a low energy density. They also take a while to chew, and are very filling.

Studies show that people who eat vegetables and fruits tend to weigh less (40). These foods are also super healthy and nutritious, so eating them is important for all sorts of reasons.

  1. Chew More Slowly

It can take a while for the brain to “register” that you’ve had enough to eat. Some studies show that chewing more slowly can help you eat fewer calories and increase the production of hormones linked to weight loss (4142).

  1. Get Good Sleep

Sleep is highly underrated, but it may be just as important as eating healthy and exercising.

Studies show that poor sleep is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity, being linked to an 89% increased risk of obesity in children, and 55% in adults (43).

  1. Beat Your Food Addiction

A recent 2014 study of 196,211 individuals found that 19.9% of people fulfil the criteria for food addiction (44).

If you suffer from overpowering cravings and can’t seem to get your eating under control no matter how hard you try, then you may be a food addict.

In this case, get help. Trying to lose weight without dealing with this problem first is next to impossible.

  1. Eat More Protein

Protein is the single most important nutrient when it comes to losing weight.

Eating a high protein diet has been shown to boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day, while helping you feel so satiated that you eat up to 441 fewer calories per day (454647).

One study also showed that protein at 25% of calories reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, while cutting the desire for late night snacking in half (48).

This is the single most important tip in the article.

Simply adding protein to your diet (without restricting anything) is one of the easiest, most effective and most delicious ways to lose weight.

  1. Supplement With Whey Protein

If you struggle to get enough protein in your diet, taking a supplement can help.

One study showed that replacing part of your calories with whey protein can cause weight loss of about 4kg, while increasing lean muscle mass (49).

  1. Don’t Drink Calories, Including Sugary Soda and Fruit Juices

Sugar is bad, but sugar in liquid form is even worse (50). Studies show that liquid sugar calories may be the single most fattening aspect of the modern diet.

For example, one study showed that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to a 60% increased risk of obesity in children, for each daily serving (51).

Keep in mind that this applies to fruit juice as well, which contains a similar amount of sugar as a soft drink like coke (52).

Eat whole fruit, but use fruit juice with caution (or avoid it altogether).

  1. Eat Whole, Single Ingredient Foods (Real Food)

If you want to be a leaner, healthier person, then one of the best things you can do for yourself is to eat whole, single ingredient foods.

These foods are naturally filling, and it’s very difficult to gain weight if the majority of your diet is based around them.

Keep in mind that real food doesn’t need a long list of ingredients, because real food IS the ingredient.

  1. Don’t “Diet,” Eat Healthy Instead

One of the biggest problems with “diets,” is that they almost never work in the long term.

If anything, people who “diet” tend to gain more weight over time, and studies show that dieting is a consistent predictor of future weight gain (53).

Instead of going on a diet, make it your goal to become a healthier, happier and fitter person. Focus on nourishing your body, instead of depriving it.

 

If you follow these tips weight loss should follow as a natural side effect.

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.