More Sleep = Fat Loss + Muscle Gain

More Sleep = Fat Loss + Muscle Gain

Outside of an undisciplined approach to training and/or nutrition, there is one key variable that keeps many people from building muscle or losing fat. You do it daily, but probably not enough. Also, the quality of it is typically bad. We’re talking about sleep!

It’s the most underrated facet of most people’s optimal health. Unless you have a newborn child, it should be a priority when trying to improve body composition. Sleep deprivation or irregular patterns will have several negative effects.

Low Sleep = Higher Energy Intake

Studies show that short-term sleep deprivation increases energy intake and leads to net weight gain in women. Caloric intake is usually increased by 20%! I’m guessing the same thing happens to men also. The caloric intake is caused by an increase in leptin. Leptin is made of adipose tissue (fat cells) and is the hormone responsible for energy expenditure. It also helps regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger. When you don’t sleep enough, your leptin sensitivity decreases.

Remember, it’s responsible for regulating energy balance and inhibiting hunger. Therefore, if you aren’t sleeping enough, your body won’t have the same amount of energy it normally stores. When that occurs, it will seek other ways to provide energy such as CONSUMING MORE CALORIES. Decreased leptin sensitivity won’t allow your body to accurately detect your hunger.

Fat Loss + Low Sleep Don’t Go Together

When you alter your nutrition for fat loss, reducing sleep by at least three hours leads to malnutrition. The result is weight loss coming from lean mass rather than fat mass. Is that really what you want?

Insulin Resistance

Abnormal sleep patterns (shortened sleep of 5-6 hours and prolonged sleep of 8-9 hours) have been associated with several types of metabolic syndromes (obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension). It leads to an increased occurrence of diabetes in people with these poor patterns. A reduction in sleep by as little as two hours daily can induce a state of insulin resistance in healthy people within one week. By halving sleep time by four hours or less, it can induce insulin resistance after a single night.

Lower Testosterone

Shorter sleep duration has been associated with higher a BMI, waist circumference, and subcutaneous fat areas in men. It also lowers men’s testosterone levels. Reducing sleep by three hour periods for five days can lower a man’s testosterone by 10.4%.

Impaired Cognition

I’m sure everyone has attempted to either write a paper, do homework, or stay up working late. It usually results in shitty work. Why? A reduction in sleep reduces higher levels of cognition such as problem-solving. It will also lead to your workouts being absolute crap. There will be a lack of focus, an inability to contract the proper muscle groups, and you may end up putting more stress on your body than you actually need.

What Now?

You can enhance your sleeping in a few ways. Taking naps, going to bed without electronics on, going to bed 30 to 60 minutes earlier than normal, or making sure your bedroom is pitch black at bedtime. I would shoot for seven to eight hours per night.


Beihl, DA, Liese AD, Haffner SM. Sleep duration as a risk factor for incident type 2 diabetes in a multiethnic cohort. Ann Epidemoil. (2009)

Cappuccio FP, et al. Quantity and quality of sleep and incidence of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. (2010)

Donga E, et al. A single night of partial sleep deprivation induces insulin resistance in multiple metabolic pathways in healthy subjects. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. (2010)

Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men. JAMA. (2011)

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