Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Less Sleep = More Weight

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If you are night owl and can't seem to get yourself to bed at night, starving your body of the sleep it requires, you may be in for another unpleasant side effect: weight gain.

Quite a few studies in the past have connected sleeping fewer hours to higher body mass index (BMI). A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition actually looked at normal-weight people and the effects of less sleep on the body.

The men studied followed their normal eating, drinking, activity, and sleep routine for 2 days. Then they were instructed to get 8 hours one night and 4 hours the next night.

After getting 4 hours of sleep, the men ate 22% more calories than when they had a full 8 hours of sleep. They made up for these calories at breakfast and at dinner, but not at lunch. In fact, these men ate about 560 more calories on average. That is about the same number of calories as in a Big Mac!

The increase in calories doesn't necessarily happen in the extra hours that someone is awake, either. We often compensate with more calories throughout the day, not just in the wee hours of the night.

When you look at statistics, we as a society have been getting less sleep and of course we all know that we keep getting fatter. Coincidence? Many researchers don't think so.

Sleep has to many benefits and not getting enough can wreak havoc on our bodies in numerous ways we don't even know like disrupting our hormones that control appetite and promote fat storage in the body.

With that said, I am heading to bed! Gotta get my zzzzzzzzzz's!
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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