For exercise to work effectively, it must be coupled with adequate sleep and a healthy diet, as all three are part of the health equation. Despite this, many of us catch ourselves tossing and turning even after a day of working out. Why could this be? Well, our diets may have something to do with it.
Unhealthy food and sleep
What we eat affects how we sleep. Medical Director for the Center of Sleep Medicine Dr. Ana Krieger explains that eating a healthy and nutrient-rich diet can promote a deep, restorative sleep. This is because the nutrients we get from healthy food provides the brain with the proteins and minerals it needs to create amino acids essential to sleep.
On the other hand, data also shows that eating “less fiber, more saturated fat and more sugar” in a day is linked to a more restless, and less restorative sleep. Sugar is a slippery slope because the more of it we eat, the more of it we crave. However, eating too much of sugar can increase our caffeine intake, making it harder to sleep at night. A good way to reduce sugar intake is the 12-hour rule where a person can only snack during a certain time period. This is a good way to reduce late night snacking, which also causes sleep issues.
Irregular sleep and diet
Research by Dr. Eve Van Cauter found that people who don’t get enough sleep at night are more likely to have bigger appetites. This is because the amount of leptin, an appetite regulating hormone, drops when we don’t get enough sleep which in turn promotes an increase in appetite. This is further exacerbated since “psychological manifestations of fatigue, sleep and hunger are similar,” meaning that if you feel sleepy, you’re more likely to eat a snack instead of hitting the sack.
Research pointed to late sleepers eating an average of 248 more calories than normal sleepers. What’s worse is that the research also found that late sleepers made poorer food choices, especially at night. People who are sleep deprived are more likely to reach for a high-fat, high-carbohydrate snack in order to feel full, which is bad news for those trying to lose weight.
How diet and sleep affect your health
While proper diet and sleep can affect our fitness, it can also contribute to our overall health. Deciding to eat healthier and sleep regularly can prevent you from being afflicted by certain illnesses. The Conversation reports that a poor diet is the number 1 cause of poor health in America, with “heart disease, strokes, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cancers, immune function, [and] brain health” all influenced by the food we eat. The focus on diet has become increasingly important these days considering that there is a significant lack of primary care physicians. This looming healthcare shortage was highlighted by Maryville University in a long-form post for nursing graduates. The article notes that there will be an unmet demand for 100,000 primary care physicians come 2025. The fact that a person’s diet can be easily changed, means that more and more people are going to hospital when they don’t need to or when it could have been avoided through a healthy lifestyle. If people take care of themselves by eating the right kinds of food and sleeping earlier, this could significantly increase their immunity to sickness. In turn, this will contribute to less people needing to go to the hospital and adding to the current healthcare crisis.
Hopefully this article has shown you how important diet and sleep are to a your overall fitness and health. The good news is that both lifestyle habits can be easily fixed if they need to be. For more information, ask our Fit Fam team how Fit Factory can help YOU start or reignite your fitness journey!
Exclusively written for FitFactoryClubs.Com
By: Liam Grace