When people are trying to lose weight, they mainly focus on working out since it’s commonly believed that it is the number one factor that drives fat loss.
In reality, there are several other factors that control your body composition, including sleep and diet. In fact, exercise only accounts for around 15%–20% of the weight loss you experience.
All world-class athletes focus on the type of food they consume and the duration of their sleep. A classic example of a professional athlete who prioritizes sleep is Roger Federer.
Roger sleeps approximately 12 hours per day, divided into :
- 10 hours of sleep per night
- 2 hours of napping
In this article, we will discuss the relationship between fitness, sleep, and dietary choices.
Sleep and fitness
Sleeping less than 7 hours can lead to detrimental effects on your physical performance.
According to one study, lack of sleep decreases the time to physical exhaustion by up to 30%. In other words, if you typically run for 30 minutes before feeling tired, sleep deprivation can move this threshold to 20 minutes.
Additionally, sleep deprivation negatively impacts your physical strength and gas exchange. Your sweat glands will also become less effective at cooling your body.
Another study demonstrated a linear relationship between the amount of sleep athletes get and their risk of physical injuries.
If athletes sleep 6 hours or less, their risk of injury jumps to a whopping 80% during a single season. Sleeping 9 hours per day brings this number down to 15%–20%.
The role of diet in fitness and sleep
Your diet is vital to lose weight or gain muscle mass.
There are three major macronutrients:
- Carbohydrates (e.g., sugar, fiber)
- Lipids (i.e., fat)
Depending on how much you consume from each macronutrient, you will either lose weight, gain weight, or increase your lean muscle mass.
Here are some of the ways that promote weight loss:
1. Caloric deficit
The main scientific principle to lose weight is known as caloric deficit.
Here is a brief definition for people unfamiliar with this concept:
Caloric deficit describes the consumption of fewer calories than required for energy expenditure. As a result, your metabolic pathways will start using the stored forms of energy (e.g., glycogen, triglycerides) to sustain cellular function.
2. Increase protein intake
Oftentimes, you will hear people talking about how our ancestors did not deal with chronic illnesses and obesity. While this statement is not completely accurate, there is some truth to it.
The main feature of our ancestors’ diet is the consumption of a high-protein, high-fat, low-carb diet.
This type of diet will promote weight loss in two ways:
Eating a diet rich in protein and fats will stimulate the secretion of leptin – the primary hunger-suppressing hormone. Consequently, you will feel satiated (i.e., full) after a relatively smaller meal, which automatically leads to caloric deficit.
A diet rich in simple sugars interferes with your metabolism.
The good news is that a diet that consists of protein and fats will boost your metabolism, allowing your liver cells to burn more calories even when you are resting.
3. Increase fiber intake
Scientists found that eating fiber-rich foods lowers your blood cholesterol levels by stopping its recycling in the intestines. This complex carbohydrate also optimizes the breakdown of other food elements.
The combined actions of fiber accelerate the basal metabolic rate, which is a key ingredient to lose weight.
Eating a healthy diet, sleeping enough hours, and working out on a regular basis are the three pillars of becoming fit and improving your well being.
We hope that this article helped you understand the connection between fitness, sleep, and diet.