We'll discuss more in the Eat Smarter section about how fuelling your body with proper nutrition is vital for your health and athletic performance. But you might not know that sleep can actually have a big impact on what you eat.
Sleep helps control two important dietary hormones – leptin and ghrelin – which are responsible for hunger and satiety. When you’re tired, these hormones are thrown off, and you crave high-energy foods like sweets, sodas or processed foods that are usually high in calories, low in nutrients. This is not ideal for athletic performance, not to mention the damage they do to your body. Just think of the last time you had a bad night's sleep. How did you eat the next day? You probably craved desserts, baked goods and a greasy fast-food meal.
Sleeping consistently can help your body manage these hormones and therefore your hunger, minimizing your cravings for foods that aren’t good for you. The bottom line? Sleep consistently to make sure you set yourself up for proper high-performance nutrition. Sleeping well will help you manage your appetite and improve your body composition (more muscle, less fat).
A great biohack for using nutrition to sleep better and vice versa is to have a small protein snack right before you fall asleep. Research has shown that protein ingestion before sleep improves protein synthesis (like building muscles) by about 22% when compared to a placebo pre-bed snack. So after a hard workout, have a high-protein snack so you can build your muscles in your sleep!
Today's POWER-UP: Eat Your Way to Sleep
Food affects our energy level: some foods rev us up and some foods calm us down. As you begin to make some changes in your life to sleep better, it’s good to know the difference.
Here are some calming, sleep-inducing foods that are great before bed: non-dairy milk, bananas, oats, yogurt and sunflower seeds. So if you need a post-dinner snack, try a bowl of plain yogurt with berries and sunflower seeds or fruit like berries or a banana.
But there are some foods that stress our bodies and can keep us awake at night. Some classic body-stress foods are those high in fat, because they require a lot of digestive energy. It’s a lot harder to get good night’s sleep right after tucking away a cheeseburger-fries combo.