One of the primary determinants of your ability to burn fat is your hormonal balance. Your body is either primed to store fat or burn fat and that is dictated by your hormones and how they interplay with your lifestyle. Know this: there is FAR more to hormone balance than estrogen and testosterone!
The hormones at the center of this story include insulin (a storage hormone), cortisol (a stress hormone), leptin (a satiety hormone) and human growth hormone (an energy, recovery and anti-aging hormone).
Sleep is your hormonal and metabolic recovery period. While you rest, your body plays catch-up. When you get adequate sleep (8+ hours), you naturally help to regulate your hormonal response and this significantly favors fat loss.
If you are NOT getting adequate sleep (even if you feel you can function without out), you don’t allow for that hormonal reset and your body is not primed for fat loss. Cortisol, your stress hormone, increases. Insulin also increases. This combination means that you are hungrier, you have less energy, your stress hormones are in over-drive and you’re less likely to feel satisfied after eating. This hormonal combination also increases your cravings for sweet and fatty foods.
Countless studies have shown that individuals who get adequate sleep are leaner, happier, less stressed and more energetic than those who do not get adequate sleep.
When you’re assessing your fat loss progress and you feel like your hunger, energy, mood and cravings are not balanced and manageable you need to evaluate your sleep patterns. Make whatever adjustments are necessary to get more sleep.
Here are a few changes I made to fit more sleep time into my jam-packed days:
- I removed the TV from my bedroom. I was guilty of getting sucked into a show and fighting to stay awake to see the end.
- I started prepping the night before – I’d make my breakfast at night, make sure lunch was packed and lay out my outfit for the following morning.
- Limiting caffeine after lunch time. I’m sensitive to caffeine and I was routinely having a cup of coffee mid-afternoon. This had to go to ensure that I could fall right asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
- I hung blackout curtains in my bedroom. To ensure that my sleep-space was as quiet and dark as possible, these were a great addition!
- I turned off my ringer. No more texts, emails or news alerts coming through my phone while I try to sleep!
- I started working out in the morning. I had been working out in the evenings but this just boosted my energy and made me feel wired. I was having trouble sleeping so now I keep my workouts in the first half of the day.
Start small. Commit to an early bedtime a couple nights a week and notice the difference in your hunger, energy, cravings and mood. Change isn’t easy or comfortable but it’s worth it if it means you can get to your goals more efficiently!
To read more about balancing hunger, energy and cravings or the hormones associated with fat loss, check out one of my favorite resources: Metabolic Effect!!