Sleep Loss and Weight Control

Didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night? Better be careful ‘cause you’re more likely to blow your diet today.

Want to lose weight? Get a good night’s sleep – eight hours.

That’s the news – old and new – from researchers at Uppsala University.

Researchers Christian Benedict and Helgi Schioth of the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University (Sweden), one of the world’s leading research universities, who had previously published a report showing that a single night of total sleep loss in young, normal weight men curbed their energy expenditure the next morning. Hey, that report in the American Journal of Clincial Nurtition, explains why so many of us don’t want to hit the gym after a rough night’s sleep. The research also showed that subjects had increased levels of hunger, which indicates that an acute lack of sleep may affect folks’ perception of and reaction to food.

In a new study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, the researchers and their associates Samantha Brooks and Elna-Marie Larsson have systematically examined regions of the brain involved in appetite sensation. Using functional magnetic imaging (fMRI), they studied 12 normal-weight males while they viewed images of food and compared the results after a night with normal sleep with those obtained after one night without sleep.

“After a night of total sleep loss, these males showed a high level of activation in an area of the brain that is involved in a desire to eat,” explained Benedict. “Bearing in mind that insufficient sleep is a growing problem in modern society, our results may explain why poor sleep habits can affect people’s risk to gain weight in the long run. It may therefore be important to sleep about eight hours every night to maintain a stable and healthy body weight.”

And, as much as you might fear the “I-told-you-so”s of Mom, here’s more “Mom was right” news.
Compared to breakfast-eaters, breakfast skippers tend to weigh more and have other unhealthy habits including consuming too many sugary drinks or high-calorie snacks. Approximately 18 percent of Americans over the age of 2 regularly skip breakfast, according to Nancy Auestad, PhD, vice president of regulatory affairs at the Dairy Research Institute.
During a symposium at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2012 Annual Meeting and Food Expo, Auestad noted that breakfast-eaters obtain about 17 percent of their daily calories from breakfast, as well as a significant portion of their daily recommended intake of key nutrients, Vitamins D (58 percent), B12 (42 percent), and A (41 percent).
And in studies of young people, researchers found that breakfast-skippers consume 40 percent more sweets, 55 percent more soft drinks, 45 percent fewer vegetables, and 30 percent less fruit than people who eat breakfast.
Potentially good news is that breakfast may be a tool for weight loss and in the battle against obesity. “Most of these negative factors were abbreviated when breakfast was consumed, compared with breakfast-skippers,” said Heather Leidy, PhD, assistant professor in the department of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri. “Targeting that behavior could lead to a reduction in obesity.”

In her study, Leidy assembled a group of 10 breakfast-skipping teens and divided them into groups that consumed no breakfast, a normal-protein breakfast and a high protein breakfast.

The subjects’ reports of hunger levels and other indicators caused Leidy to find that eating a healthy breakfast of any kind lead to a more satiety (the feeling of being full or not wanting anything more to eat) and less overeating throughout the day. These findings were especially prominent among teens who ate the high-protein breakfast. They consumed about 200 calories less in evening snacks.

But there’s GOOD NEWS and BAD NEWS:
Magnetic resonance imaging reveals that a protein-rich breakfast reduces the brain signals controlling food desire – even many hours after breakfast. GOOD NEWS!
But, despite the demonstrated benefits of consistently eating breakfast, breakfast-skippers went back to their old ways within six months. BAD NEWS.

For parents, the news simply reinforces one more reason to be parents – not friends – to their kids. Parents make certain that kids eat breakfast – high protein breakfasts. Parents who are friends to their kids leave it up to kids – and later bemoan the fact that their children are out-of-shape and over- weight. Of course there’s the third group of parents – those who are so oblivious to these issues (and are often overweight themselves as a result of their own bad eating habits) or just completely self-absorbed that their kids will be paying for it physically and emotionally for years to come.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

This is just one of many areas addressed by the Brain Training Centers of Florida with hours from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM, seven days per week. For further information call (305) 412-5050.

Posted in: Brain Training, Sleep Issues

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