You probably know by now that not getting enough sleep can make it harder for you to lose weight. And you may know that getting sufficient sleep is essential to optimal health. But did you know that losing weight can actually help you sleep better? Turns out, it can – as long as you follow the right diet plan to take off the pounds.
According to a study conducted at Purdue University and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the right kind of low-calorie diet improves sleep for middle-aged individuals.
For this study, 44 participants ate a lower-calorie diet for 16 weeks to help them lose weight. However, one group consumed 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight, while the other ate 1.5 grams. After three weeks of adjusting to the new diet, the participants began rating the quality of their sleep. By three or four months of participating in the program, the high-protein group was reporting better sleep than the normal-protein group.
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It’s important to remember that these participants weren’t just adding extra protein to their diets. They were on a dietitian-designed plan that restricted calories to help promote weight loss. But the dietitian focused on cutting about 750 calories of fat and carbohydrates out of the diet, rather than cutting back on protein. I’ve written before about the many benefits of a low-carb diet, and it seems that I may be able to add improved sleep to the list.
The researchers found additional benefits to eating more protein, including fat loss, increases in lead body mass, and better blood pressure. Some of these benefits could actually be thanks to the better sleep, which is important in reducing risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease risk.
If you struggle with both your weight and your sleep, try swapping out some of your carbs for protein. If you use this strategy in conjunction with a lower-calorie diet, you’ll likely kick-start a positive cycle of better sleep and accelerated weight loss. Just make sure your protein is coming from healthy sources, such as lean meats, eggs, organic soy, and legumes.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
J. Zhou, J. E. Kim, C. L. Armstrong, N. Chen, W. W. Campbell. Higher-protein diets improve indexes of sleep in energy-restricted overweight and obese adults: results from 2 randomized controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2016; 103 (3): 766 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.115.124669