Is sleep getting in the way of your body composition goals??

 

This past week the east coast was hit by one of the worst storms in over a century, Hurricane Sandy. New York City, the city that never sleeps, suddenly came to a standstill. While the region began its recovery Tuesday morning, many of us were unable to work this week. This lull in work gave me an opportunity to recover from a full work and training schedule, catch up on some sleep, and brainstorm on some blogging, which I have not kept up with in months.

Many of you know Im a big fan of Dr. John Berardi, and Precision Nutrition. This week as I was catching up on sleep, going from an average of 7 hours per week to 8, John posed several questions and research articles on sleep and how it affects the way we metabolize food, and its consequences on body composition and performance.

Many of us are very good at maintaining a consistent training schedule, yet sleep and sleep quality, our tools for recovering from a workout, and metabolizing food, take a back seat. According to Precision Nutrition's "All about Sleep," the average adults gets 7 hours of sleep per night. 33% of adults get 6.5 hours or less. A century ago, adults averaged 9 hours a night. This is attributed to many of the modern day distractions we have, and what sleep researchers are calling voluntary sleep curtailment.

Consequently, research is finding a correlation between sleep, insulin resistance, and subsequent obesity. While I do not work with a largely obese clientele, I do work with many people who have body composition goals. The challenge is motivating my athletes to place a greater focus on the recovery process of fitness, and less so on the stimulus. At the end of the body composition continuum, managing several smaller areas of your recovery can add up to big results. Inadequate sleep, and diets high in refined carbohydrates and artificial sweeteners, chronically elevate insulin levels. This begins to dull the bodies sensitivity to insulin, inhibiting not only the transport of sugars into muscle for growth, but the ability to burn fat as well. Excess blood sugar is then stored as body fat, while the rest continues to circulate throughout the body, wreaking havoc on other systems.

In addition to insulin shutting down our fat burning capacity, many anabolic hormones are inhibited, compounding an already retarded muscle building process. Studies in young healthy men have shown that in just 2 days of 4 hours of sleep per night, our hormone balance is disrupted. After just 2 days of low rest, the participants had the insulin sensitivity of a pre diabetic 70 year old man! Failure to get several full cycles of sleep each night resulted in lowered growth hormone secretion which not only inhibits muscles development but can also tapers exercise performance, though the exerciser may feel like their working hard.

Decreased Human Growth Hormone (HGH) = decreased muscle building and recovery Decreased Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) = decreased metabolism Increased Cortisol = decreased insulin sensitivity, increased stress levels

We know that consistent strength training boosts both insulin sensitivity, and anabolic hormone activity. Perhaps you have been following a consistent strength program, but are negating it with poor macronutrient choices and timing, and poor sleep. If your routine has not been yielding the results you see others getting, maybe its times to improve on some these other areas of heath and fitness.

For more info on ways to improve your fat burning capacity with both sleep, nutrition and training see these link below.

 

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-sleep

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/sleep-and-insulin-resistance

http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1526539 Alywn Cosgrove's Hierarchy of Fat Loss

10 Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism

Have you hit a plateau with your current diet and exercise lifestyle, or lack of? Try these 10 simple lifestyle and training modifications to boost your metabolism and start burning more calories at rest!

1. Get 7 hours of sleep - Sleep boosts immunity, decreases stress, and stimulates the release of human growth hormone, which helps rejuvenate the daily toll of activity and stress. It keeps your cells young, helping you feel and look younger, longer. A sure fire way of accelerating the aging process, increasing the stress hormone cortisol, and decreasing your productivity, is cutting rest short. Add a nap mid day, if you are lucky enough to afford one.

2. Start your day off with breakfast - Research shows those who start there day off with a balanced meal, eat fewer calories the rest of the day. The act of eating, alone boosts your metabolism. It takes energy to digest and metabolize food. Not eating sends your metabolism into a dormant mode, setting you up for over-eating later, when your blood sugar is on the floor, and more prone to storing that over consumption as fat. Start your day with a balanced meal of healthy fats, high fiber carbs, and lean, heavy metal free :) proteins. Failing to combine all three macronutrients can have a negative impact on insulin release, fat utilization, and satisfaction before your mid morning snack.

3. Eat 4 - 6 smaller meals per day, every 3-5 hours - Stoke your metabolic fire by eating regularly. Burn calories, while consuming them, by maintaining a steady blood sugar level. Your muscles are metabolically active tissue. They burn calories at rest, but they need to be fed. Starve them, and they will atrophy, killing your metabolism and increasing your fat stores.

4. Drink plenty of non alcoholic, low calorie beverages - We drink far too many of our daily calories. Liquid calories are deceiving and often unsatisfying. Fruit juice is one the biggest offenders. A seemingly natural and healthy beverage loaded with way too much SUGAR. Eat an orange, grapefruit, or apple instead of that glass of juice in the morning, and add some fiber to your diet. Soda is by far the worst, and that includes diet sodas. There is nothing in soda that sustains life. A 12oz can of regular soda contains 10 packets of SUGAR! And diet soda is loaded with artificial sweetener, which has been linked to metabolic problems, cancer, and an increased sweet tooth. In fact the only beverages anyone really needs is water. To mix things up, add tea or coffee to the list. Studies have shown they have little impact on dehydration, despite common thinking, and they aid in fat utilization.

5. 30 mins of activity EVERY day - The American College of Sports Medicine (ASCM) recommends 30 mins of accumulated activity each day for health and weight maintenance. They recommend 60 mins or more for weight loss. A combination of both resistance training and aerobics are best. How much are you getting?

6. Get out of your chair - More and more healthy problems are being linked to excessive amounts of sitting. So much so we now refer to specific problems as the Sitting Disease. Many of us go from our beds, to the breakfast table, to the car, the desk, and then the couch at night. Get up and out of your chair as much as possible. Simply standing burns more calories than sitting. Small caloric changes day to day add up over time. The average adult gains 2 pounds a year.

7. Walk and take the stairs - Walk or bike to your destination when appropriate. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. You would not have to spend extra time working out, if you added simple light activity throughout the day. Technology and modern conveniences are allowing us to be lazier.

8. Mix up your workout routine - Breakout of your routine. You become increasingly efficient doing the same mode of activity each time. Burning calories requires inefficiency. Get your hands off the treadmill or stepper, use an upright bike instead of a recumbent. Take a new running/walking route. Train your weaknesses. Mix it up!

9. Hit the weights - Many of us accumulate enough light aerobic activity, walking, climbing a flight of stairs, etc, to maintain heart and lung health. High volume aerobic activity compromises metabolically active muscle tissue. Skip your 3 mile steady state cardio routine, and add some fat scorching muscle to your body with resistance training.

10. Manage your stress - At this point, if you are managing 1-9, your stress is in check. If its not, return to number 1 and start over. Stress releases cortisol, cortisol stimulates fat storage. Stress effects your sleep, disrupts your diet, gets in the way of your workouts and absolutely has an impact on your waistline.