Today’s health and wellness topic is weight loss.
Oh what a huge market this is! So many people are giving us so much advice-what to eat, what not to eat.
Well, today I’ll just offer ONE simple tip which can be the difference between success or failure. Because I like to keep things as simple as possible. There are many other things I COULD say, but it seems to be part of the human condition that if we take on too many things at once, we end up doing none of them. So here we go.
First thing I want to say is that although exercise obviously plays a vital role in weight loss, it’s not the first thing you should be considering.
One of the biggest things that contribute to our weight gain is (drum roll please)….. eating late at night.
The trick here is to not eat anything within 3-4 hours before you go to bed. Why? Because it affects how your metabolism works. Not only that, if you eat right before bed, you’re less likely to get a good sleep. It affects how well-rested the brain can be. If your body is busy concentrating on breaking down food as you try and get to sleep, you’re less likely to get deep restorative sleep.
And, if you get less deep restorative sleep, this will impact your cortisol levels throughout the day (aka stress hormones). This causes you to store more fat because the body thinks there might be a famine around the corner, so it better start saving fat for survival.
Allow me to explain a little about the science of this:
According to Dr Steven Gundry (author of ‘The Longevity Paradox)-while you are asleep, your brain quite literally ‘cleans house’. Cerebrospinal fluid flows through the brain, cleaning out the spaces in between cells. Your brain cells actually shrink in size when you are in a deep restorative sleep. This is known as the glymphatic system.
The glymphatic system, just like your digestive system, requires a great deal of blood flow. So when you eat right before bed, most of the blood flow is going to your stomach, and not your brain.
And here is the thing, this glymphatic system is most active during the initial stages of your sleep cycle which happens soon after going to bed.
This is why people say the best sleep happens before midnight.
Are you starting to connect the dots?
And guess what? This glymphatic system has important implications for Alzheimer’s later in life.
Who knew, right? This was a revelation to me when I learned this!
So you see, one habit affects one thing, which affects another and so on.
Now-I hear protests already. But let me explain. People who say they just can’t sleep if they’re hungry- I totally hear you. I too struggle with this. But if this is you, it just indicates a need to adjust your nutrition throughout the day and/or address blood sugar imbalances. This is particularly relevant to vegetarians and vegans, as they’re carbohydrate intake is often higher than meat-eaters.
And I know how hard it can be to avoid this-especially when you have those nights you just want ‘your time’ after the kids are in bed and you decide to stay up late, mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching or reading something.
There is also another thing that contributes to feeling hungry at night: looking at a screen late into the night. Why? Because screens emit blue light, and blue light is a signal to our body that it is morning time, and it is time to ‘break fast’. Therefore our circadian rhythm gets messed up. Our circadian rhythm is intimately tied to our hunger signals.
The answer? Well, the saying ‘early to bed, early to rise makes you healthy wealthy and wise’, is not just a catchphrase bumper sticker. It is actually life-changing advice!
So, in a nutshell:
- don’t eat within 3-4 hours of your bedtime.
- If hungry before bed, adjust your nutrition during the day and/or address blood sugar issues.
- Go to bed early and rise early.
(I said I’d give you ONE thing didn’t I? Well, it’s still one thing, with three parts. ?)
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