Are you trying to lose weight and not succeeding? 

Feeling like you are doing everything right but still can’t lose weight.

How are you sleeping? 

 

If the answer is not too well, or you just aren’t getting enough sleep, this could be part of the reason that's holding you back from achieving your goal. 

It's not something that we would automatically put together, but consistently sleeping well should be a big part of your box of tools to support a healthy weight for you.  

I do understand that life throws curve balls at you.

It's only the past year or so that I think I really fully have grasped this one myself (even though theoretically I have known it for over 10 years).

When we're sleeping, the body is just so busy looking after us. We will all be different, but the average optimal amount of sleep is between 7-8 hours.

The point being: that's enough to enable you to wake up and not feel like you are dragging yourself out of bed to the coffee machine. 

There are a few reasons for this but in this blog I'm talking about the hormones that are knocked about when we don’t sleep well. 

 

1.  Ghrelin

I remember this as I think of gremlins and not feeding them after midnight. That is me if I don’t sleep well: eating all the carbs in the house - and still being hungry.

Ghrelin is our hunger hormone, it tells us when we need to eat. Lack of sleep, and disrupted sleep increases this hormone.

 
2.  Leptin

I haven’t got a funny reminder for this one, but it's the opposite of gremlins. It is our satiety hormone - ie. the ability to know when you're full. And yep, it decreases when we don’t sleep well. 

  

3.  Insulin

You may know this one: the hormone that is responsible for opening the door for glucose to enter our cells for energy. Insulin is also disrupted with lack of sleep. 

 

So here you have two hormones which, when out of whack, are going to make you hungry. And one that is disrupting how you are using your energy effectively, making you tired so you tend to eat more to give you more energy. 

If you're trying to be good and not eat all of the cakes and chocolates that are left in the office kitchen, this is going to make it very hard for you. 

 

"So, what can I do?"

 

First, have a look at your week and your evening and morning routines. Write it down.

What can you see might be stopping you from going to bed by 10.30 and getting at least 7 hours sleep?

Are you getting up and dragging yourself to the gym after 5½ hours sleep with a coffee?

Working out in a bright gym with no natural daylight?

You might be doing all this to to lose weight but it is doing the complete opposite for you. If anything it is upping your cortisol levels, and making you hold on to weight. 

Have you just got into the habit of staying up to a certain time?

Can you bring this back 15-30 mins this week and set a new routine for yourself? Could you instead go to bed with a book (not your blue light phone or tablet as that will keep you awake) at 10pm and put lights out at 10.30pm?

 

Habits take a little while to break.

Go easy on yourself. Have patience with yourself.

Obviously there will be some responsibilities that cannot change.

But if your goal is to lose weight, and you are not getting enough sleep, you need to think about how you can prioritise this. Start with changing a couple of nights per week and go from there. 

Keep smiling and pedalling 

Cath ;-)

Catherine is The Cyclist's Nutritionist. To find out more go to www.catherinesteel.co.uk or join her Facebook group #Superfueldcyclists.