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How sleep is linked to body fat

by Daniel Kapsis, Clinical Dietitian – Sports and Exercise Nutritionist 

Lately, there are plenty of choices in technology such as watches and smart phone applications that measure the quality and time of sleep during the night. So, in this context, we decided to assess the quality of a woman's sleep, who, despite following her diet very well, seemed to have hit the so-called weight loss "plateau".

To evaluate the quality of her sleep during the night, we used a very interesting smart phone app. The results were by no means encouraging, as the correlation found by the device between the hours and the quality of sleep showed that the woman was at the lowest levels of efficiency, experienced high stress, had high cortisol in her blood (stress hormone that lowers growth hormone and affects insulin sensitivity), and experienced a feeling of chronic fatigue.

What is also interesting is that inadequate sleep also affects our body fat. It seems that a stressed and tired body is likely to be unable to follow a restrictive diet or a demanding fitness program. A very interesting survey by Nedeltcheva AV in 2010 showed that even a slight lack of sleep leads to an unintentional increase in calorie intake by 20%. Additionally, due to existing hypercholesterolaemia, the body appears to be particularly susceptible to fat intake, while at the same time the musculoskeletal system undergoes catabolism.

What can we do about this?

Besides the obvious urge to give our body the necessary time to rest, there are still 2-3 easy steps we can take. It has been shown that using a mobile, tablet or computer just before going to sleep exposes the body to blue light that prevents melatonin (a very important sleep hormone) from increasing to levels that allow us to sleep quickly and effectively. Magnesium, a very important muscle relaxant, is a component that, if deficient, seems to have a direct correlation with insomnia. In this context, make sure you eat foods rich in magnesium such as spinach, pumpkin seeds, avocado, kefir and banana. For more information, visit SYMMETRIA's Dietetic and Medical team to get a full and personalized insight into the your own body and its needs.

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