The Key to Weight Loss Isn't Just Diet and Exercise

By , SparkPeople Blogger
If you're trying to lose weight, you've probably been paying a lot of attention to what you eat and how much you exercise. It's great when everything is going right and you're losing like you expected. But it's frustrating when you feel like you're working so hard but aren't getting the results you were hoping to see. What could possibly be going wrong?

Our bodies are very complicated, so it's not always just about activity and food. There's another magic ingredient that can help or hinder your weight loss efforts. What is it? Sleep.

Ohio State University dietitian Shirley Kindrick says that getting a good night's sleep is a key part of the weight loss equation. She finds that many people trying to lose weight are sacrificing sleep for exercise. Lack of sleep causes hormonal changes which can cause carbohydrate cravings, and also makes it more difficult to find the energy for a good workout. Because lack of sleep has been linked to Type 2 diabetes and weight issues, Kindrick advises her clients that sleep is just as important as exercise when it comes to weight loss.

"Kindrick says most adults need at least seven hours of sleep every night. Studies have shown that people who slept five hours per night were 73 percent more likely to become obese than those getting seven to nine nightly hours of sleep."

If you're getting 5 hours of sleep per night and want to work up to 7, do it gradually. Making changes all at once can be difficult for your schedule and sleeping patterns. For example, getting up 15 minutes later and getting to bed 15 minutes earlier can be a small step toward a better night's rest.

Looking for 7 Hidden Ways to Get Better Sleep? Take the Sleep Quiz to find out how much you know about getting the rest you need.

Do you get enough sleep? If not, do you think it impacts your weight loss progress?