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Are you sleeping yourself fat?

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There’s no doubt about it, sleep can make you fat.

But that’s not because you’re being a lazy bludger who’s hitting the snooze button on your alarm instead of getting up for your workout. No, it’s not getting ENOUGH sleep that might be the culprit for that pillow of fat around your tummy.

You see, sleep is an important function of your body’s repair cycle and also regulates your hormones. And when it comes to sleep and fat loss, there are two hormones that we need to be worrying about: ghrelin and leptin.

Ghrelin tells you when to eat – and when you are sleep deprived, your body produces more ghrelin. Sending you straight into the loving embrace of that mid-afternoon coffee with a side order of chocolate. Leptin’s role is to tell you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin. So that one row of the chocolate block turns into the whole family-sized bar. Then, in addition to making poor food choices, you’re tired and lack the motivation to exercise.Sleeping businesswoman with her head on laptop

As you can see, it’s a recipe for a slowed down metabolism. In our society of busy-ness where sleep deprivation is often worn like a badge of honour, it’s little wonder that obesity levels continue to rise!

In addition to how much sleep you are getting, the quality of your sleep is also important too. You might think you are getting the recommended seven hours of sleep each night – or maybe even more, but like someone surviving on only four hours, you’re tired, struggling to control your appetite and unable to lose weight. With a growing number of health monitors, like the Fitbit or Jawbone Up among others, on the market now, many people are discovering that the quality of their sleep is less than ideal and this is negatively impacting their health. These devices can be a useful tool to identify a potential issue with the quality of your sleep, but for long term sleep problems, a referral from your doctor for a sleep study can help to pinpoint any underlying issues, such as sleep apnoea.

So, how can you improve your sleep and get your hormones back under control? Here’s some great tips from Harvard Medical School:

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine too close to bedtime
  • Make your bedroom a sleep inducing environment: quiet, dark and cool, with minimal electronic devices
  • Create a soothing pre-sleep routine
  •  Go to sleep when you’re truly tired
  • Use natural light in the day to keep your internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle
  • Have a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time
  • Nap early, or not at all
  • Have a lighter evening meal
  • Time your exercise right – aim for at least 3 hours before bed, or earlier in the day
Are your sleep habits undermining your fat loss goals? We can help to monitor your fat loss and show you how your results improve when you prioritise good sleep habits. Come in for a before and after DEXA scan in Crows Nest to get a true picture of your internal health.
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Anabolic versus catabolic: What’s the difference and why does it matter for your health?

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The terms anabolic and catabolic are well-known in the weightlifting and body building communities, but we believe it’s time that the broader community understood what these terms mean and use that knowledge to improve health and well-being!

So, what do these terms mean?

Anabolic and catabolic essentially refer to whether your body is building tissue or breaking it down. An anabolic state means your body is building or repairing tissue, whereas a catabolic state means your body is breaking down tissue. Workouts are either anabolic or catabolic, and each has a different effect on your body.

Anabolic workouts are focused on strength training, and will increase muscle mass. The effect of anabolic training actually takes place during rest and high intensity training, when the body produces more muscle fibres to replace the ones that were broken during exercise. By increasing your muscle mass, your body will burn fat more effectively when at rest. Classic anabolic hormones include growth hormone, insulin and testosterone.

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Catabolic training predominantly involves cardio exercise sessions of at least 20 to 45 minutes in duration, and will cause your body to release hormones such as cortisol, norepinephrine and adrenalin. Catabolic training will cause a loss of total body mass and is an effective fat burner while you are exercising.

Which is better?

We believe that for most people, it is better to exercise in a way that encourages your body to be in an anabolic state. Anabolism is necessary to grow muscle tissue, increase bone density and also encourages the production of white blood cells to boost your immune system. By increasing muscle mass, your body will burn fat more effectively all day – not just when you are exercising. It is vital to ensure that you are eating enough, as if your body has inadequate resources to fuel muscle repair, it will actually break down undamaged muscle tissue to repair damaged muscle tissue!

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How to promote anabolism

Becoming more anabolic isn’t just a matter of increasing your weight training. It requires a combination of training, good nutrition and rest. Here are some tips on how to be more anabolic:

  1. Watch what you eat: A diet that focuses on fresh, natural and unprocessed foods is ideal. Aim for simple home cooked meals based around protein, good fats and clean, slow burning carbs.
  2. Sleep your way to success: Sleep and rest are vital to promoting anabolism as this is when the body will repair broken muscle tissue and grow new muscle. Aim for eight hours of sleep a night and make sure you are giving your body a chance to renew itself.
  3. Train using compound movements: Exercises like squats, deadlifts and push and pull variations develop the whole body, rather than just one muscle group. This helps to promote an anabolic state as the body will keep burning fat for hours after your workout.
  4. Reduce stress: Both mental and physical stress can lower your immunity and hamper muscle repair. The stress hormone, cortisol, is associated with a catabolic state and is known to increase blood pressure and blood sugar, and reduces immune responses.
  5. Avoid alcohol: Yes, we know this is never popular advice! But alcohol hampers the process of protein synthesis and lowers testosterone levels, both of which are necessary for muscle growth. So save the beer and wine for an occasional indulgence.
  6. Eat green vegetables: Plenty of green veggies will provide your body with phytonutrients to trigger anabolism.

So there you have it, an overview of the difference between anabolic and catabolic states, and what that can mean for your health. To get an indication of the amount of muscle tissue in your body, come in for a DEXA scan and we can help to tailor your training to help you turn into a lean, fat-burning machine.