I see it all the time.  People struggling to lose weight, claiming they are doing everything right.  Their nutrition is on point and they’re training every single day.  Waking up at 4:30 in the morning to get their training in and planning their meals out to a tee and still no weight loss.  They say, “But I am doing everything right!? Should I eat less and train more?!”  No!!! The answer is no.

The fitness industry wants you to believe you need to train more to reach the results you’re seeking.  Don’t get me wrong, training should be done and done religiously, but over-training is not the answer. When looking at your daily routine (nutrition, training, stress, sleep, etc.), ask yourself, “Am I really doing everything right?” If your goal is to lose weight and you are not, then my guess would be you’re probably not.  Before you go off the deep end and claim you have a slow metabolism, are insulin sensitive, or have celiac disease, please take a deeper look because in many cases, there are things that could be adjusted to help you reach your weight loss goals without pinning a label or medical diagnosis on it.

For starters, let’s look at the basic breakdown of how your daily calories are burned:

  • 70% of your daily calories are burned at rest. This is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
  • 15% of your daily calories are burned from daily activities. This is your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT).
  • 10% of your daily calories are burned from eating food. Digesting Protein burns more calories than fats and carbs. This is called the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF).
  • 5% of your daily calories are burned from exercise. This is called Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT).

When we look at these numbers it should be pretty clear that training is the least important to losing weight.  Surprising? Probably to many of you. When many people are overly concerned about killing themselves at the gym everyday, they should be focusing the first and biggest piece that is responsible for calorie burn, and that is sleep.

If you could bottle up sleep and sell it, it would be the most potent performance enhancing drug out there.

You might be wondering what makes sleep so important when it comes to things like losing weight. Lack of sleep that has a huge negative impact on what you are trying to accomplish. Let’s look at some things sleep deprivation will cause:

  1. Slows metabolism
  2. Increases blood pressure
  3. Increases hunger hormones (Ever wake up starving? Probably lack of sleep)
  4. Causes insulin resistance and increase in cortisol (Cortisol is a steroid hormone and is release by stress.  Ding Ding – lack of sleep can increase stress which will increase cortisol which does no good for weight loss.)

Now, let’s look at what adequate sleep can do for your body:

  1. Metabolism will become more efficient
  2. Stress levels will decrease
  3. You will recover much faster
  4. All of these things will help you build more muscle, lose more fat and be significantly more productive

As taken from the University of Chicago Medical Center, “The message for people trying to lose weight is clear, Penev said, ‘For the first time, we have evidence that the amount of sleep makes a big difference on the results of dietary interventions. One should not ignore the way they sleep when going on a diet. Obtaining adequate sleep may enhance the beneficial effects of a diet. Not getting enough sleep could defeat the desired effects.’”

“If your goal is to lose fat, skipping sleep is like poking sticks in your bicycle wheels,” said study director Plamen Penev, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. 

So, the next time you tell yourself you are doing everything correct, take a deeper look.  Be honest with yourself.  If you truly want to lose weight and feel like you are doing everything right, the answer is not more of the same, but it’s looking at making some changes to the things that may not seem as obvious. Get to bed earlier and rest more often, try to reduce unnecessary stress in your life. In the coming articles, we will go over the next 3 items on this list of calorie expenditure, so stay tuned.