When people start their journey to lose fat and change their body shape, it is most likely that they will focus on extercise and nutrition, and with good reason – you can’t lose fat without being in a consistent calorie deficit (burning more calories than you are consuming).
However, there are also other factors that go into the end result which people may not be focusing on as much, one of which is sleep. Many people who are out of shape have poor sleep habits and this can have a huge impact, not only on their progress, but also on their overall health.
So, why is sleep so important for fat loss? And what areas can it affect over time?
Energy and Performance
Resistance training plays a huge part in your journey to get in shape. It is the foundation of building muscle, burning body fat efficiently, increasing strength, and improving balance and stability. Over time, you should be looking to progress your training to increase your energy output, enhance muscle growth, and improve strength and fitness. However, given how demanding resistance training can be on your body, this is very difficult to achieve if you are not getting enough rest and recovery from consistent sleep. So, sleep must be prioritised as a key area to improve energy and performance, particularly in your sessions.
Muscle Recovery and Development
Sleep is crucial to your the progress of muscle growth over time. During the resistance training sessions, you will be breaking down muscle tissue, but the real progress happens in your recovery. This is when your body replaces old muscle tissue with new ones and continues to burn fat, so long as you are in a calorie deficit. High quality sleep helps muscles release protein-building amino acids into the bloodstream at an increased rate which aids in their growth and strength over time. Sleep helps with muscle repair becuase it releasee growth hormones during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
There have been several studies that have linked the quality and consistency of our sleep to the food choices we make on a daily basis. These studies have shown that those who are in a good sleep pattern tend to stick to their diet far more consistently than those who are struggling with their sleep. When you are sleep-deprived, the levels of Ghrelin, the hunger hormone that increases appetite, go up, whilst the levels of Leptin, the hunger hormone that decreases appetite go down, which means that your hunger cravings increase.
Another are in which sleep can have a positive impact on your journey is by giving you stronger immune function. When you sleep, proteins called cytokines are released by your immune system, some of which help promote sleep. If you have an infection or inflammation, or if you are stressed, certain cytokines, therefore, need to increase. On the other hand, if sleep is deprived, the production of these protective cytokines can decrease. This relates to fat loss because when your immune system is weak, your energy and productivity decrease, meaning your training and daily activity starts to suffer.
Those who have consistently good sleep patterns have also been proven to have a better, more positive mindset. This is essential because a large reason why people fail to get in shape is down to psychological factors, which can come from several different areas of life. However, by having a stronger mindset through good sleep, you are much more likely to attack every day with positivity and energy, therefore giving you a better chance of being consistent with the tasks required to achieve your fat loss goals.
So, if you are looking to get in shape, you must start prioritising the quality and consistency of your sleep. This is because it affects energy and performance, muscle recovery and development, nutritional control, immune function, and your mindset. These areas are crucial to your fat loss progress and overall health, so make sure you are looking at your current sleep pattern and see how you can improve, if it does need improving.
Photo Credits: Envato Elements