Too Little Sleep Inhibits Burning Fat

One of the reasons so many people struggle to burn fat when working out is due to not getting enough sleep.

New research from the University of Chicago’s General Clinical Resource Center has just shown that when people are sleep deprived they may still loose the wight from dieting, but more of the lost weight is muscle, instead of fat. “If your goal is to lose fat, skipping sleep is like poking sticks in your bicycle wheels,” said study director Plamen Penev, MD, PhD, of the University of Chicago. “Cutting back on sleep, a behavior that is ubiquitous in modern society, appears to compromise efforts to lose fat through dieting. In our study it reduced fat loss by 55 percent.” The human body produces more of a hormone called ghrelin when it lacks sleep. Higher ghrelin levels are known to “reduce energy expenditure, stimulate hunger and food intake, promote retention of fat, and increase hepatic glucose production to support the availability of fuel to glucose dependent tissues,” the authors note. “In our experiment, sleep restriction was accompanied by a similar pattern of increased hunger and … reduced oxidation of fat.” “For the first time, we have evidence that the amount of sleep makes a big difference on the results of dietary interventions. One should not ignore the way they sleep when going on a diet. Obtaining adequate sleep may enhance the beneficial effects of a diet. Not getting enough sleep could defeat the desired effects,” said Penev.

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