Monthly Archives: March 2015

Sleep and weight loss

Sleep your way to a toned body with top tips from sleep expert, Dr Guy Meadows

You’re eating well and working hard at the gym, but are your body goals falling short? Perhaps you’re not getting the results that you want. While stepping up your exercise regime and cutting down on treats, Bensons for Beds and Dr Guy Meadows show how sleep affects weight management and what steps you can take to help get healthy, fit and lean.

How does sleep affect weight?

Hungry Hormones: “There are two hormones that affect weight, Ghrelin which regulates how hungry we feel and Leptin, which regulates the feeling of fullness. Research demonstrates that after a poor night‘s sleep Ghrelin levels increase, Leptin levels decrease and the desire to eat is increased by 45% above normal levels.”

Reduced willpower: “Sleep-deprived individuals select foods that are on average 9% higher in calories than when in a rested state. Research suggests this could be due to a sleep deprivation induced reduction in willpower.”

Tiredness impacts exercise: “Poor sleep leads to increased tiredness levels and reduced motivation for exercise, which in turn leads to weight gain. Being active can help to manage weight, tire muscles and boost sleep quality.”

Quick fixes: “When tired it’s easy to reach for sugary snacks to keep you going, but this just leaves you feeling worse in the long term. Instead, opt for a breakfast packed with slow-release energy such as porridge with Greek yoghurt or poached eggs with wholemeal toast. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day will stop you reaching for that chocolate bar. Choose healthy snacks such apple slices with nut butter instead.”

What can you do to improve your sleep?

Food rules: “Keep your evening meal light and always leave at least two hours between eating and sleeping. A large meal before bed can disrupt sleep quality and increase fat storage.”

Take advantage of power naps: “Nap for no more than 30 minutes for an effective natural boost of daytime energy. Research shows that taking a power nap can increase alertness levels by 100% for up to four hours afterwards, use that extra energy for a long run or fitness class!

Get 7-8 hours: “Research suggests that people who average six hours of sleep per night are 27% more likely to be overweight, and those who average five hours per night are 73% more likely to be overweight than someone who sleeps for 7-8 hours.”

Drink rules: “Limit caffeine to before 2pm and opt for herbal or decaf alternatives after this time. Aim to drink no more than two to three cups of caffeine per day as this can keep you up during the night, leaving you feeling sluggish and minimising your chances of hitting the gym the next day. It should be noted that if people are looking to manage their weight effectively, getting a good night’s sleep should be part of living a healthy balanced lifestyle including eating healthy food and exercising regularly.”

Mindful eating tips

Try this five-day mindful-eating diet plan to adopt healthy eating habits.

Adopt a new set of eating skills each day for five days. ‘It takes about 20 to 30 attempts at a new habit to rewire your brain for a permanent change,’ says Gaynor Bussell, independent nutritionist for the Kallo Food Academy. ‘So persist and don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the rails and eat mindlessly. Just think carefully about what’s happened and why.’

Day one

Allow at least 20 minutes for each meal and give the food your full attention. Take pleasure in planning meals and snacks and gather ingredients in advance to resist eating whatever’s around.

Day two

Enjoy preparing food. ‘Make it a creative art, even if it’s just putting a topping on some rice cakes,’ says Bussell. Eat before you get ravenous.

Day three

Make eating an aesthetic experience. For example, use a napkin, placemat, your best crockery (but keep your plate small). Notice each mouthful as you eat; relax, chew thoroughly and be aware of the flavour and texture of your food.

Day four

Keep your mind on the food – don’t let it wander to other subjects. Consider how it arrived on your plate and how you prepared it. Connect with the food and think about how it’s nourishing your body and mind.

Day five

Notice how full you feel and stop when you feel pleasantly satisfied not stuffed. After eating, note the meal is over and clear away. ‘Don’t consider this a chore but just the completion of the meal. Think how nice the food was and how you feel,’ says Bussell.