Perhaps the most underrated and disregarded aspect of building lean muscle and losing body fat is sleep. Sleep is very individualized, so the amount of sleep people need will differ greatly from person to person. Studies show that the amount of sleep is a large contributor to how much lean muscle mass a person is able to build and how much body fat a person can lose. This happens in multiple ways:
1. When you sleep, your body uses glycogen (stored carbohydrates from the liver) as the energy source for the brain. This source is depleted in a matter of 2 hours. The body then pulls amino acids from muscle tissue to supply the brain with energy. Visceral belly fat is used in the latter stages of sleep as the brains primary source of energy, but this only occurs roughly hours 6-9 of sleep (depending on the person, it may be sooner). Bottom line, if you need more sleep, sleep more.
2. Lack of sleep throws nearly all of your hormones out of whack, including hormones that support metabolic functions for hunger, satiety, and energy, as well as hormones that support building of lean tissue. People who sleep less tend to make poor food choices to supply the body with immediate energy (processed sugars, simple fats), and often end up eating more throughout the day because they are awake for a greater period of time (up to 400 calories).
3. Lack of sleep places psychological and physical stress on our bodies, further altering our hormone and metabolic balance, and puts our body through a viscous cycle of weight gain, sleep deprivation, and further stress depicted here: http://wp.me/p49Iw6-6z .
Stay tuned for Part 2, which I’ll be posting on Monday, going into further detail of how to combine sleep, nutrition, and exercise to assist you in your goals.