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The importance of Sleep on muscle gain.

Does sleep have any effect on your muscles?

Our Sports Scientists hear all the time from clients that their sleeping patterns are poor. Late nights out, working late, mind racing when your head hits the pillow etc. Can you relate?

It is very well known and documented that sleep plays a crucial part of humans’ general health and wellbeing. However, does sleep have any effect on muscle gain, retention or loss? Let’s dig deep and find out!

A number of studies have identified the importance of sleep on human hormonal balancing. When we sleep, our body releases anabolic hormones such as Testosterone & IGF-1 to aid the body in the recovery process. When sleep is insufficient, the release of these hormones is reduced which may lower the bodies’ ability to repair muscle or thus build muscle. So if you are doing regular strength training, but your sleep is compromised you could end up not getting those gains!

Studies have also shown that sleep is vital to make sure we don’t experience muscle atrophy (muscle break down). Lack of sleep will elevate hormones in our body, specifically CORTISOL. Cortisol is a stress hormone and when its elevated it has the effect of breaking down muscle tissue. This hormone is very Catabolic and reduces the rate of protein synthesis and inhibits muscle tissue growth.

So Elevated Cortisol = harder to gain muscle!!!

To reap the rewards of our hard work in the gym, you must get your sleep right.

The time in which we sleep directly influences cortisol levels as well! A number of studies have identified that individuals who slept during the day could not significantly reduce Cortisol levels when compared to people who slept during “regular” night hours. The conclusion of these studies stated that there is a direct correlation to cortisol secretion and our bodies natural clock (Circadian Rhythm) and it seems that catching up sleep the next day might not offset a bad night’s sleep.

To summarise, sleep plays a HUGE role in the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. LACK of sleep will contribute to breaking down your hard earned muscle! Sleep provides a state of recovery and repair for the body, allowing the “good” anabolic hormones to be secreted into the bloodstream and reducing the release of “bad” catabolic hormones.

Put your sleeping habits to the test with a DEXA scan and our experts will provide you with the advice you need to get to your goals!

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Light vs Heavy Weight

THE BEST WAY TO BUILD MUSCLE
When asking individuals, “What is the best way to build muscle?” a common response would be that you HAVE to lift heavy weights! But is this true? A recent meta-analysis conducted by Schoenfield et al. 2016, aimed to find out if you could build muscles using lighter weights. Their conclusions may change the way in which you think about building your muscles.

ABOUT THE STUDY
The study involved two completely untrained groups (men); a “High-load” group were prescribed a moderate repetition range (6-8 reps) at more than 65% of 1rm (rep max) and a “Low-load” group who were delegated a higher repetition range (12+ reps) at less than 65% of 1rm. The results showed that both training groups experienced similar “Hypertrophy” (muscle growth) effects.

Schoenfield et al. 2016 concluded that the most influential factor to muscle gain is that of “Total-work volume” (reps x sets x weight) and if the total volume is similar in both training groups; similar muscle growth should be examined. Arguments arose as experts stated that the individuals that were used to undergo this study where just experiencing the “newbie” gains we obtain when untrained individuals begin weight training. They argued that as the individuals were “untrained” and had not been exposed to any form of resistance training previously; they would, therefore, have a greater muscle potential and a likelihood to respond to any form of training.

Schoenfield et al. 2016, responded to this and performed the same experiment with trained individuals – he got similar results! Equal muscle growth in both the heavy and lightweight groups.

 

So what does this mean for you?

Well, it means that if you love lifting heavy weights with low reps you should still go for it, but if you like lifting lighter weights with higher reps then you can do this and get the same muscle growth on your body!

Although imagine the effect of lifting both lighter weights vs heavyweights on the longevity of your being. The heavier we lift, the higher the risk of injury we may be exposed too. A big reason why we see some of our clients stall and go backwards in their body composition goals is from injury.

We often see injuries in our clients who are heavy lifters. Injuries are obviously counterproductive for regular training. This is not to say you powerlifters or individuals out there who do love to lift heavy should cease to train the way you enjoy, but mixing the training methods between the two may be beneficial to allow your Central Nervous System (CNS) to recovery from your heavy lifting sessions.

If you have any question about this article or your specific training program, you can speak more about this to our experts at the Crows Nest Clinic.

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POWER OF PERSISTENCE

Client of the month

Congrats to our first client of the month!

Elaine is a client of ours at Body Measure, Crow’s Nest and has been coming since Jan 2015.
She is a great example of what perseverance and consistently measuring your results can do. We see so many clients start and give up. Those that get measured regularly and never give up, always get the body they want.

Elaine’s progress was up and down- then she got all her ducks in a row and … WOW… look at her now!

In the past 10 weeks she has:

DROPPED 2 body fat percentages. Now a lean 17% (where most bikini contestants need to sit at)

INCREASED her lean muscle mass by a whopping 2.3kg

DECREASED her fat mass by 1.1kg

She is heavier now by 1kg but has a much better and sexier body composition (which is why scales are so frustrating and totally misleading) This is why DEXA is the smart way to go!
We are stoked to be a part of Elaine’s fat loss journey. Through accurate measuring of body composition, we know she has gone anabolic (that is put on muscle at the same time as losing fat- the best way to change your body composition)

We now have the data she needs to maintain her new fit body!

If you have fallen off the wagon pick up the phone and call us to book an appointment (02) 9460 8502 and get the body you want just like Elaine did!

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Not happy with your DEXA scan results? It’s not personal

We’ll be upfront. Having a DEXA scan can sometimes be a bit confronting. Knowing EXACTLY how much fat is on your body, how much of your weight is fat or muscle, and where you are storing fat can sometimes feel like a bit too much information.

But, here’s the thing to remember – it’s just data.

It’s what you do with the data that matters. There’s very little point in getting upset because you’ve discovered that you’re not as healthy as you thought, or that you’re thin-inside-fat-outside (TOFI).

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Instead, see that information as a gift. The old saying that knowledge is power can serve you well. You have the knowledge about your body, its composition and your overall health, and you have the power to use that knowledge to make behaviour changes that WILL have an impact. And once you’ve made those changes, you can come in for a follow up DEXA scan and be presented with the visual evidence that your choices are making a difference.

What if it’s the lack of progress on the second scan that is the problem

Ah, yes, this is a common scenario. And we usually find there are three usual reasons behind the lack of results:

Focusing too much on exercise but still eating whatever you want

Exercise is great for building muscle, cardiovascular health and mental wellbeing. It’s not, however, great for fat loss. Fat loss really needs to be driven from the kitchen. You can’t outrun a bad diet!

Over exercising

Yes, exercise is good and we should aim to be active every day. But being active every day doesn’t mean punishing yourself in the gym for 90 minutes six days a week. Overexercising is a major cause of cortisol spikes which encourage your body to store fat. A DEXA scan can help us to devise the optimum training regime for you, but typically a great week of activity would look something like this: two to three strength workouts, one to two sprinting sessions of less than 10 minutes each, and generally being active in a gentle way every day. This means walking the dog, doing the gardening and housework, maybe going for a surf – basically activities that you enjoy and add to your quality of life.

Fear of fat:

Yes, not eating enough fat is a big problem for many of our clients. goodfat-omega3-dexa-bodymeasure-crowsnest-sydney-dexascanningFirstly, low fat foods are often supplemented with sugar to make them taste better, and are less satiating so you end up eating more than you would have otherwise. Secondly, eating high quality fats – like avocados, eggs, grass fed meats and sustainable oily fish – helps become more lean and reduce body fat by improving the liver’s ability to burn fat.

Have you come in for a DEXA scan yet? Are you anxious about what the results might reveal? Don’t be scared, our experienced team is here to help you understand the data and develop a realistic and achievable action plan for you to get the results you want. Call us today on 9460 8502 to book an appointment at our Crows Nest clinic.

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What’s more important – diet or exercise?

It’s a question we regularly hear when clients come in for a DEXA scan: “What’s more important, diet or exercise?” The short answer is they both are. But you’re not reading this for the short answer, are you? And if you’ve been trying to run your way into a smaller clothing size, then you’re probably going to end up disappointed…

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What’s your goal?

Most of our clients at Body Measure are looking to make physical changes to their bodies: reduce fat, shift weight and build lean muscle mass. Our DEXA scans help to provide you with the data points to track those changes and get the best results for your individual circumstances. When it comes to exercise, we’re big proponents of strength training to build muscle, which in turn will help you to burn fat.

But, to really lose fat, you’ll see better results from time spent in the kitchen than time spent in the gym. This is because losing fat and weight does rely on being calorie negative – burning more calories than you are ingesting. And because the human body is very efficient with how it expends energy, you have to run an awful lot to compensate for eating more than your body requires. For example, one study found that to lose about 1 kilogram of fat, study participants had to exercise for 77 hours! That’s a lot of time that could be spent preparing healthy meals rather than phoning for a pizza…

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As well as exercise not actually burning that many calories, people tend to be REALLY bad at estimating calories in versus calories out. Studies have shown that when people are told to eat the amount of food that they believed they burned in calories exercising, they overestimate badly. How badly? Two to three times the amount-of-calories-they-actually-burnt-badly.

How to prioritise your time

In the modern world, people are more inclined to find 30 minutes in their day to go to the gym, or go for a walk, or even just get off the bus a stop or two earlier, than they are to cook. We are constantly bombarded by messages by food manufacturers about how we don’t have time to cook, or that cooking is difficult.

But, here’s the truth of it: taking responsibility for what goes into your mouth is one of the most important steps you can take towards better health. For most people, you are eating three to five times a day. Taking a bit of time each day to make active choices about those foods will help you on your fat loss journey more than any “I worked so hard I’m going to vomit” personal training session.

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Here’s four simple tips to help you find the time to eat better:

  1. Chopping vegetables for dinner? Take 30 seconds to chop an extra carrot and put the sticks in a sealed container for snacking over the next couple of days.
  2. Bag up some snacks. Pre-portion ziplock bags of nuts and together with a small piece of fruit, you’ve got yourself a great little mix of healthy carbs, protein and fats.
  3. Make friends with your freezer and create your own stash of ready-meals.
  4. Take 30 minutes each week to plan your meals. For bonus credit, find an hour or two for a food prep and cook up session

The bottom line

Exercise is very important for health. It helps balance your hormones and build muscle, which is fat burning. It helps you to feel more energised and is critical for cardio-vascular health. Exercising can also, for some people, make them eat better (if you don’t fall prey to the “I worked out today so I can have that big slice of cake” trap!).

But, ultimately you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

What are your tips for eating better? Have you had better results from diet, exercise or a combination of the two?

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Get a picture of your bone health

How healthy are your bones? Do you even think about your bones? After all, bones are hidden away, just doing their thing.
This week, 3 to 9 August 2015, it’s Healthy Bone Action Week, so we’re asking you to think about how strong your bones are.

Most people don’t know how many crucial functions your bones are responsible for. Bones help you move, protect your organs, produce blood cells, store minerals, and provide support for the rest of your body.

Not looking after your bones can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis and lead to a greater likelihood of falls and broken bones as you age. This can affect your quality of life and lead to a life in severe pain, or even ending up with a disability.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease which makes bones become brittle, leading to a higher risk or breaks. It literally means ‘bones with holes.’ It affects over 1 million Australians and occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them.

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As bone density decreases, even minor bumps of falls can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis often has no symptoms until a fracture occurs, gaining it the name of the ‘silent disease.’ The most common sites for fractures are the hip, spine and wrist. Fractures can be the trigger for chronic pain and loss of independence, and the risk of future fractures increases with each new break – known as the ‘cascade effect.’

What can you do to improve bone health and prevent osteoporosis?

There are three key elements to improving bone health and preventing osteoporosis:

  1. Exercise: To improve bone health, weight-bearing exercise (where you support your own body weight, like walking, jogging and tennis) and resistance training using to build muscle are highly recommended. Resistance training can use body weight exercises, hand weights, gym equipment or resistance bands. For people with osteoporosis, balance training is also highly advisable to reduce the risk of falls.
  2. Calcium-rich diet: Calcium is essential for bone health and for healthy functioning of your heart, muscles, blood and nerves. If you are having inadequate amounts of dietary calcium, the body will withdraw the calcium from your bones to use in other parts of the body. Good dietary sources of calcium include dairy foods, tinned fish, dark green vegetables and nuts. It is recommended to eat 3 to 5 serves of calcium-rich foods daily.

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    Milk is a great source of calcium for strong bones
  3. Sunlight: Sunlight is recommended as the best source of vitamin D. Over 30% of Australians are estimated to have some level of vitamin D deficiency, especially during winter. Vitamin D is an important element in developing strong and healthy bones. Depending on skin type and the time of year, 5 minutes to 3 hours of sun exposure is recommended.

If right now, you’re thinking, “Gee, I really have no idea what state my bones are in,” think about a DEXA scan at Body Measure’s Crows Nest clinic. A DEXA scan package can provide you with a detailed look at your bone health and give you the information you need to take steps to strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis. The DEXA scan uses painless, safe, non-invasive, low radiation to calculate your bone densitometry.

An initial scan will show the state of your bones, and a repeat scan after adopting preventative measures can give you the motivation you need to continue to focus on your bone health.

Give us a call today on 02 9460 8502 to book your scans at Sydney’s Body Measure and get a true picture of your bone health.

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Intramuscular fat- how much do you have?

Did you know our DEXA machine is the ONLY machine that can measure INTRAMUSCULAR FAT?

Intramuscular fat is the fat in your muscles, rather than the fat under the skin and for a long time has been largely ignored. It’s often referred to as intramuscular triglycerides, which help to provide fuel to the body.

But, just like the intramuscular fat in a nicely marbled Wagyu steak, this intramuscular fat can actually be GOOD. It can help body builders have fuller looking muscles, and provides long term energy for endurance athletes who don’t have much extra muscular fat to use as a fuel source. The trick is in knowing how much you have and the ratio compared to your other fat cells and lean muscle tissue.

Below are 4 male DEXA scan pictures, from left to right, the body fat measurements are 10%, 12%, 16% and 24%.

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Blue on the scan represents lean tissue, muscle and organs, and the green or light blue represents FAT! If you look at the thighs on the 10% male scan, you can see mainly dark blue with light blue speckles. This is marbling. This guy is like a lean cut of meat. If you look at the 24% male body scan, you will notice a lot of green dots and smudges in the upper thigh. This is like a wagyu steak- a fatty cut of meat.

Due to genetics and different training styles, some people can have the same amount of total fat on their body (ie. both be 11% body fat) but look different.

Body Measure recently scanned a personal trainer that had 12% body fat, and when he returned 3 months later he walked into our clinic looking much leaner. His second DEXA scan revealed his body fat percentage actually increased by 0.6%, despite looking much leaner. He had been doing a very intense high volume style of training called hurricane sessions (high intensity interval training). During this his body adapted by storing intramuscular triglycerides for fuelling in his thighs and arms. During this process he did lose subcutaneous fat, resulting in him looking leaner with fuller muscles. The increase in body fat percentage was from the accumulation of increased intramuscular fat.

Without being able to see this intramuscular fat increase the client wouldn’t have been able to recognise the true benefits of his training.

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Is this what you look like on the inside?

Body Measure has the only machine that measures intramuscular fat – we really can tell you what is going on in the inside!!

Our machine is accurate to the gram and can give you immediate results.  We can tell you where you are losing fat from under the skin, between the muscles or from your organs (the bad visceral fat- and yes, this is the ONLY DEXA scanner that can do this) and what the health implications – positive and negative –  are for your individual goals and circumstances.

Book in for a Dexa scan and find out your intramuscular fat levels in a matter of minutes!

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Fat: Making friends with this former dietary enemy

For years, we were told that eating fat was turning us all into fatty boombaladas, causing heart disease and sending us to an early grave. And so, everyone turned to the low-fat and no-fat “foods” that flooded the market. But what happened? The obesity epidemic didn’t subside. No, obesity levels have continued to increase with the resulting medical complications now one of the top health challenges of our era.

It turns out fat isn’t the public enemy number one we thought it was.

Instead, fat is a critical part of our diets.

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Grilled Atlantic salmon with an avocado and tomato salsa. Delicious healthy eating with GOOD fats!

Fat is vital for good nutrition

Did you know there is a source of nutrients we can’t get from any other foods or make ourselves. These are called essential fatty acids, and without them in your diet you cannot have good health. It plays a key role in helping our bodies actually absorb nutrients and is used to make many vitamins, in particular Vitamin A, D, E and K. To get the full vitamin hit from your garden salad or your plate of steamed greens, you need to add some healthy fat to your plate.

Fat makes food taste better

As well as making food good for us, fat makes food good to eat too. This was one of the biggest problems of the low-fat/no-fat dogma, as to make these foods palatable manufacturers needed to replace the fat with something else. What else makes food taste good? Sugar and salt, neither of which are exactly innocent when it comes to our health.

Eating fat helps you burn fat

Healthy fats play an important role in improving the liver’s ability to burn fat. Yes, if you want to burn off that unhealthy fat that is around your internal organs, you need to be eating dietary fats to initiate that fat-burning process. Before and after DEXA scans can give you the visual evidence of the results you can get from adding the right fats to your diet.

But don’t hoe into the deep-fried Mars bars and triple cheeseburgers

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Remember not all fat is created equal..

The important thing to remember is that all fats are not created equal. When it comes to fat, some are very, very good, and others are very, very bad. It’s also important to be conscious of your fat intake as fats are calorie dense foods and need to be consumed with deliberate intent. Be smart and strategic with the fats you eat for maximum health benefit.

So, what fats should you be eating?

The best fats to eat are minimally processed, real foods. Some examples of healthy high fat foods, as recommended by Authority Nutrition, include:

  • Avocados
  • Cheese
  • Whole eggs
  • Sustainable oily fish
  • Nuts
  • Butter from grass-fed cows
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconuts and coconut oil
  • Full-fat natural yoghurt

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It’s time to stop being afraid of fat and instead, make fat your friend. For so many of our clients, we’ve seen the amazing changes in their body composition from simple diet changes, including increasing the amount of healthy fat they eat. Before and after DEXA scans have shown that this fat loss has been primarily the unhealthy and dangerous visceral fat around internal organs in the abdominal cavity.

Have you been fat-phobic in an effort to lose weight? Has increasing the fat in your diet improved your health?

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Are you hitting your protein sweet-spot?

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Protein is an essential macronutrient for good health, and is especially vital for building and maintaining lean muscle mass. But how much is enough? How can you calculate how much you need? And can you have too much protein? In this blog post, we’ll explore these issues and break it down for you.

Why protein is important?

Protein is one of life’s essential nutrients. Brain cells, muscle, skin, hair and nails are just some of our body parts that are protein-based – in fact about half of the human body’s dry weight is made up of protein. The amino acids in protein are also necessary for the production of some hormones, such as adrenalin.

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How much protein do you need?

Estimates vary on how much protein is needed, with some recommendations excessive in our opinion. The suggested guidelines from the Australian Institute of Sport strike a good balance. The Institute’s recommendation for sedentary men and women is 0.8g of protein per kilo of bodyweight per day. On average, a sedentary man needs 56 grams per day, and a sedentary woman needs 46 grams per day.

To put this in perspective, some examples of the amount of protein in food is:

  • 85 grams of meat has about 21 grams of protein
  • 1 egg contains about 6 grams of protein
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter as 8 grams of protein
  • ¼ cup of almonds has 8 grams of protein

Requirements are slightly more for some athletes, of up to 1.7g/kg/day for elite male endurance athletes, those at the start of an intense resistance training program, and those involved in power sports. Other people with higher protein requirements are pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people over the age of 50 to reduce the risk of age-related sarcopenia (muscle wastage).

But it is important to note that the guidelines from the Australian Institute of Sport are for athletes. If you are overweight or have a high body fat composition, it is advisable to calculate your protein requirements based on your lean muscle mass. A DEXA scan can give you an insight into how much lean muscle mass you have, accurate to the gram.

How to make sure you are getting enough protein?

Most Australians do get adequate protein in their diets, and as excess protein cannot be stored by the body there is no benefit to eating more than your body requires. However, it is most effective to eat protein at regular amounts throughout the day.

Protein deficiencies are most common in people following strict vegetarian or vegan diets. This is because most plant proteins are not complete – they do not contain all the essential amino acids that our bodies require. Soy products, quinoa and amaranth seeds do contain all the essential amino acids, but most plant proteins lack at least one amino acid. This means that vegetarians and vegans need to ensure that their diet contains a variety of protein foods from different plant sources to ensure they get an adequate mix of amino acids.

Inadequate protein intake is also a concern for people following fad diets such as long-term juice and vegetable fasts or the cabbage soup diet, and of course, those suffering from an eating disorder.

Too much of a good thing?

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According to the Australian Institute of Sport, daily protein intakes under 2 g/kg of body weight in healthy people is unlikely to cause side effects. However, for people with pre-existing kidney disease high protein intakes can accelerate the disease progression. Other possible risks that are still being evaluated include an increased risk of osteoporosis due to an increase in calcium excreted in urine. The Australian Institute of Sport also warns that an excessive focus on high protein foods can displace other valuable foods – especially fruits and vegetables – from the diet.

Ultimately, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet that provides all your essential macronutrients as you strive to change your body composition and build lean muscle mass. Good overall nutrition will ensure that you have enough protein to build muscle, reduce fat and get lean.

For help on achieving your health and wellness goals, come in for a DEXA scan at Crows Nest. We can measure how much lean muscle mass you have accurate to the gram which will help you calculate your ideal protein intake. Sydney’s Body Measure can help you can change your body composition by discussing the optimal mix of nutrition and exercise best for YOU! 

 

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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.