It’s a nightmarish scenario: you stave off cravings from dawn to dusk, only to be rewarded with a night of broken sleep. Not only will you struggle to recover properly from yesterday’s workout, but your sleep deprivation causes the hunger hormone ghrelin to surge, making another day of sticking to the meal plan all the more difficult.
If you want to put this problem to bed for good, you need to wake up to your diet’s deficiencies. As nutritionist and weight-loss consultant Kim Pearson explains: “If you suddenly slash your daily calorie count too far, your blood sugar levels will plummet at night. And to stop it from dropping further, your body releases stress hormone cortisol. That’s what jolts you awake at 3am.”
Sadly, indiscriminately scoffing more calories isn’t the remedy for blissful slumber – a Pot Noodle free pass, this ain’t. While your body will burn through a plate of starchy food and max your blood sugar concentrations mid-sleep, an evening meal of protein, healthy fats and fibre offers a slow-energy release, says Pearson. Plus, upping your intake of steadily digestible fibre promotes the release of your sleep hormone melatonin, knocking you out 20 minutes faster, according to the Journal of Sleep Medicine.
Don’t worry if this upsets your overall calorie tally, as extra time between the sheets can power up your diet’s fat-burning potential. As a University of Chicago study found, increasing your sleep time from five to eight hours supercharges your metabolism, helping you shift 55% more body fat over a period of two weeks. It’s a weight-loss plan so easy that you can do it with your eyes closed.
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