After working with so many Mums over the years as a personal trainer, there are certain health challenges which come with the territory, the unwanted fat gain being one. So in this article, I’m going to offer an explanation as to maybe why you may be finding it hard to lose fat and provide a small piece of the puzzle to help with that.
Every Mum and Dad also lose a fair chunk of their sleep when there’s young kids, toddlers, and babies in their life, another challenge which comes with the territory of parenting I figure. But when you have a baby who is a terrible sleeper and up every hour or so, for what reason is generally unknown to the poor Mumma who’s trying her best to just get some damn sleep, health can start to head south!
Without sleep we would eventually die, it’s that important. So, it’s fair to say a chronic lack of sleep, which leads to high stress, can lead to some health problems like unwanted fat gain, which is just a symptom of a body not in balance. Usually what happens first is certain hormones we produce on a daily basis get pushed out of balance.
Have you ever noticed that after a bad night sleep you want to eat more food the next day?
That’s because with just one night of bad sleep your hunger hormone, ghrelin, and your satiety hormone, leptin, can become unbalanced. With these two hormones out of balance, your body tends to be less in tune with its energy needs. Imagine what can happen after weeks of poor broken or not enough sleep.
Another hormone called cortisol, which is a big part of our stress response system, can also go a little or a lot out of balance, this can cause certain blood sugar problems, and this is why if you’re in a persistent state of mental or physical stress due to a lack of sleep or other reasons, you absolutely will not lose body fat. (I talk about strategies on how to manage stress in my last article: http://nakedhealthpt.com/mums-stress-less/)
But there is a little trick which you can play with which can help you offset this blood sugar/cortisol issue, I’m going to share it with you. First, you need to understand what cortisol does and what the ‘cortisol curve’ is.
One of the cortisols primary functions is to take stored up sugar out if your storage tanks and place it in the bloodstream for readily available energy for you to use. Like when you have to fight off a wild tiger! Because that happens every so often.
But what actually does happen every day is you wake from sleeping, and upon waking your body and brain need a little energy to get you going, so, your tiny adrenal glands get to work and produce cortisol, which brings your blood its sugary breakfast. As the day goes on your cortisol tapers off so you can get to sleep, and this is our natural cortisol curve. This is for a healthy person who is not that stressed and gets a normal night’s sleep of 7-8 hours a night.
However, if you’re not sleeping well and/or you’re stressed (all the time), you’re brain is telling your adrenal glands to produce more cortisol, no matter what time of day it is. This interrupts your natural curve, and you can become cortisol depleted, or basically out of balance.
Now, remember what cortisols primary function is. Deliver sugar to the blood for readily available energy, right? So what happens when your body is producing cortisol all the time through stress and/or waking too often at ungodly hours of the morning… Do you just continue to produce cortisol? To a point.
Which is why there’s no opportunity for fat to be used in the blood for a fuel? Because there’s always sugar present.
So, if you’re not getting enough sleep and you’re under stress you may be suffering from cortisol depletion. Which means you need to help your cortisol curve get back to normal.
My recommendation to help your the cortisol curve get back to normal is to eat your carbohydrates in reverse throughout the day. Rather than having toast or cereal or fruit for breakfast, cut out the carbs and have something high in protein and fats. Example, a protein smoothie with seeds and nuts and full-fat milk or eggs with avocado and veggies. Then at lunchtime, have a small amount of carbs, maybe a piece of fruit or half a cup of rice or sweet potato and dinner you have a decent serving, like a cup of cooked rice for example.
The reason for this is, carbohydrates suppress cortisol because they do the same thing, they both deliver fuel to the bloodstream. In the morning you want cortisol up and in the evening you want it down.
This is just a little trick to use food as a tool to assist your body in its natural hormonal rhythm. It’s just one of many methods. It may not work for you, or it may work really well, all you can do is test what works best for your body, as everyone is different.
Give this a shot and see how you feel.