Another top notch post coming from Coach Tim! Read it twice if you need to. Absorb and learn!
Sleep & Eat Your Way to a Flat Tummy By Tim Mercer
You decide to get skinny for bathing suit season. You start making a conscious effort to eat less, drink less alcohol, and exercise more. You hit the elliptical regularly and do pretty well on the diet, and before you know it you’ve lost 10 pounds in 6-weeks! In the seventh week, however, you don’t lose any weight. In the eighth week, you decide to eat a little less, and exercise a little more, but by the end of the week, you’ve only lost one more pound. At the end of the 10th week, after eating less and exercising more for two weeks, you’ve not lost any more weight. By this point, it’s pretty hard to stay motivated when you’re working so hard, and not seeing results, so you give up, stop working so hard and end up gaining the weight back.
Stop thinking about burning calories; Instead focus on building your metabolism
Part of the reason your weight loss efforts stalled and your hard work was for not, is likely that you were too focused on burning calories. In the future, I’ll write an article on exercise tactics that build your metabolism, but in this article I want to address eating and sleep. I also want to get across the idea that we shouldn’t be thinking about simply burning more calories to lose weight.
The body is far more complex than a simple mathematical equation like:
If: Calories Burned > Calories Eaten; Then: Weight Loss
We do, in fact, need to burn more calories than we take in to lose weight, but doing so does not guarantee fat loss. We should actually be more concerned with fat loss rather than weight loss, and fat loss is much more complicated than basic math. In fact, for the best fat loss we want to create optimal health. It turns out leanness is simply a result of health, and health doesn’t come in a package of low calorie cookies!
Focus on quality instead of quantity
This isn’t a free pass to shovel as much food into your mouth as you can, but it is a license to stop counting calories. Instead of counting calories, macros, or even points, simply focus on feeding your body the highest quality foods you possibly can. Counting calories often leads to hunger, but you can’t sustain fat loss when you’re hungry all the time. Eating high quality foods until you are full is the way to sustainable fat loss. Every meal should include a substantial portion of lean protein and a substantial portion of non-starchy vegetables. Also, a little bit of healthy fat (coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds, etc.), and sometimes a portion of starch (potato, rice, squash, etc.). Basically, think about filling ⅓ of the plate with lean protein, ⅓ (or more) of the plate with non-starchy vegetables, and the last ⅓ will be a mix of fat and/or starch.
Eating this way will ensure that you are getting enough protein, which will help your metabolism work well. Eating this way will ensure that you get the vitamins and minerals your body needs to be healthy and strong. Eating this way will ensure that you eat the amount of food your body needs! After all, it’s very hard to overeat when your diet is centered on lean protein and non-starchy vegetables. Try it and you’ll see what I mean!
Sleep Your Way to a Bikini Body
Yes, I am telling you that if you want to lose fat, you need to sleep more! I’m telling you that getting an extra hour of sleep every night may even be more beneficial for fat loss than that 30-minute session on the elliptical!
Sleep deprivation, which is defined for our purposes as anything less than 7 hours per night, has been linked to a myriad of physiological and psychological problems. If our goal is to get as healthy as possible, then we absolutely cannot get there without getting adequate sleep. Specific to the fat loss conversation, sleep deprivation is directly associated with blood sugar regulation problems, decreased metabolism, and impaired decision making. Specifically, when someone is sleep deprived they will have a harder time controlling urges to eat bad foods, and if they do eat those bad foods, they will be more likely to store fat. That’s a double whammy to our fat loss efforts!
“...when someone is sleep deprived they will have a harder time controlling urges to eat bad foods, and if they do eat those bad foods, they will be more likely to store fat…”
Further, during sleep our body is repairing and recovering. In fact, the benefits from exercise actually come from how your body recovers from that exercise (not the exercise itself), and that recovery happens when you’re sleeping. If you aren’t getting enough deep sleep, you aren’t able to effectively recover from workouts.
For optimal fat loss and optimal health, we should be getting 8+ hours per night of good quality sleep. Quality sleep comes from sleeping in a completely dark, slightly cool room, that is free from electronics. Make a concerted effort to remove as many electronics from your bedroom as possible, and be sure that there are absolutely no electric lights in the room.
The Road to Sustainable Fat Loss
In this article I have outlined a couple of the major components of sustainable fat loss and in a future article I will address the exercise component. Counting calories and starving yourself isn't sustainable, but building meals around lean protein and non-starchy vegetables is. Couple that with a focus on achieving 8+ hours per night of quality sleep and you’ll be on your way to sustainable long-term fat loss!