Sleep and food are fuel for the body. If you reduce one source of energy, your body will compensate by requiring more energy from another source. The downside to swapping food for sleep? We consume more calories while we’re awake but don’t necessarily burn those additional calories. Consuming more calories than you burn translates into weight gain.
Sleep Deficit Makes You Eat More
Two separate studies found that participants who were restricted to five or fewer hours of sleep a day ate as much as 500 additional calories per day.
Another study found that participants who got five or fewer hours of sleep a day gained an average of 2 lbs after just five days (a typical work week). What’s more, the participants were more likely to choose less healthy foods like simple carbohydrates and high-fat foods than they would when they were well-rested.
Getting Enough Shuteye Helps You Maintain and Even Lose Weight
On the other hand, folks who slept nine hours a night five days in a row experienced weight maintenance and, in some cases, weight loss. They also chose fewer simple carbohydrate and high-fat foods when they were well rested than when they were sleep-deprived. Overall, findings suggest that increased food intake when you’ve had an insufficient amount of sleep is a physiological adaptation to provide the energy needed to sustain additional wakefulness.
It’s that much harder to make healthy food choices when your defenses are down and your body is looking for quick energy. When your body is well fueled by sleep and quality foods, it’s less likely to crave unhealthy options. Prioritize sleep, and set yourself up for success.
Tips to Help You Sleep More and Eat Less
If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, try this: Set an alarm 30 minutes prior to your desired bedtime. This will give you a trigger to start preparing yourself for bedtime.
During your waking hours, focus on food items that have a combination of high-quality carbohydrates, protein and fat. For example, try oatmeal with raspberries, apples and soy milk for breakfast. The rolled oats, raspberries and apples will provide energy, and the protein in the soy milk will extend that energy. You can also toss in some walnuts for an added boost of energy; the nuts will also help keep you feeling full longer. As a result, you’ll be less likely to grab the nearest office donut as a pick-me-up.
When your body’s well fueled by sleep and quality foods, it’s less likely to crave unhealthy options. Prioritize sleep and set yourself up for success.
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