Sleep to Battle Obesity?

clocks,alarms,lying down,people,sleeping,waking up,women,leisure,householdWith only 24hrs in the day, many of us find it difficult to fit in everything we want to get done in the day. Unfortunatley instead of cutting back on activities or time in front of the T.V, reasearch suggests that many of us are cutting back on sleep. In the last 40 years we have cut back on our sleep by an average of about 1-2 hours per night.

It is recommended that adults recieve about 7-9hrs of a good nights sleep per night to help with restoring our minds and bodies. This includes helping to restore our immune system, decreasing irritability and impatience, and lowering blood pressure. Now there is also more and more evidence to suggest that lack of sleep can affect our metabolism and result in increased weight and difficulty to lose weight.

Recently I watched a presentation from theCanadian Obesity Summit which discusses how sleep (or lack thereof) can be part of the contribution to obesity and could be the cause of some peoples futile attempts to lose weight.

Jean Phillip Chaput points out that obesity rates in the U.S have increased by 19.4% in the past 40 years where the sleep rates in U.S have decreased by 1-2 hours in the same amount of time. He also points out that sleep depreviation is the major risk factor for overweight and obesity in both children and adults. And examines a study that showed that adults who slept less than 5 hours per night were 55% more likly to be more obese than those who slept more; and that children who slept less than 10hrs per night were 89% more likely to be obese than those who slept longer.

So what are some of the possible reasons for this relationship between decreased sleep duration and obesity? Well for one thing, the longer we stay awake the more hours in the day there are for us to overeat. Most of us who aren’t getting 7-8 hours of sleep per day may likely be spending some of our sleeping time infront of the tv with chips and popcorn on hand. Not only are there more hours to spend eating but one study showed that sleep restricted people had increased neuronal activity in response to food stimuli than those who slept 9 hrs per night; showing that reduced sleep may make people overeat. In addition, restricted sleep also increases appetite for more calorie dense foods especially carbohydrate rich foods.

To add to this, studies have also found that decreased sleep affects physical activity. This can likely be that people who do not get enough sleep don’t have enough energy to partake in physical activity. Another side to this could be that physical activity helps with sleep and that people who are physically active (at least 30min per day) will have better quality sleep as a result.

Not only can decreased sleep result in weight gain but it can also impact your attempts to lose weight. A study found that men on a calorie restricted diet who were sleep restricted lost 55% fat mass and 60% muscle mass compared to their counterparts who slept 8.5hrs per night. So if you’re trying to lose weight while depriving yourself of sleep, you may be losing muscle mass instead of what you’re trying to lose (fat mass).

While this research doesn’t necessarily prove that sleep restriction is the cause of obesity, it definitely suggests that sleep could be a major risk factor. The next time you’re battling to lose those last 10 pounds and think you just can’t exersice any more or eat any less than you are maybe you should take a look at your sleep hygeine. Are you getting enough quality sleep?

I think it’s time for us to start decreasing our screan time and our dependence on caffeine to keep alert during the day and pay more attention to getting enough sleep during the night.


The Truth about Juice Cleanses

English: Cucumber, celery & apple juice

English: Cucumber, celery & apple juice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I constantly hear about people  going on cleanses to try to lose weight or to clean their body of toxins. I am not a believer of cleanses and have not found any that I would promote so I was happy to finally find a video on CBC that talks about juice cleanse myths.

In summary the short video explains that using juice cleanses to lose weight doesn’t work because after you finish your cleanse and go back to your normal diet you are likely to regain more weight. This is because while you are on a cleanse, your body adapts to fewer calories by slowing down metabolism. So once you start to eat regularly you are taking in more calories and your body has a harder time adjusting to burn these calories. Also while you are on a cleanse you esentially are starving your body of necessary protein and calories resulting in lost muscle mass (this is bad…).

If you think about it logically you can see that juicing doesn’t really add up…I bet that if you tried to sit down to eat a plate containing 4 carrots, 1 cup butternut squash, and half a cucumber (actual juice cleanse recipe) you would find yourself feeling full about 3/4 of the way through. But now if you stuck all of that in a juicer I bet you could drink it in one go and find yourself hungry in about 30min. You might think that juicing must be better if you can fit more vegetables and fruit in once glass of juice than on your dinner plate. But you would be wrong…Juicing removes the pulp from produce. The pulp contians some nutrients and most importantly the majority of the fibre in fresh produce. Fibre is what keeps you full and it is also helps to control rises in blood sugars and don’t forget it also keeps you regular.

The best way to lose unwanted weight is to eat a healthy balanced diet that includes whole grains, vegetables and fruit and lean meats and dairy products and to be active. It’s simple if you want to lose weight and keep it off you need to find something that you can stick to and not a fad diet that can’t last more than a few days.