Top 3 Reasons Sleep Deprivation is KILLING Your Fat Loss

I think we all know that sleep is important from a high level, right? We’ve all experienced the day or two after a crappy night of rest and how awful that feels. The grogginess, the lack of mental clarity and function combined with an overall feeling of lethargy. We can all agree that feeling sucks, right? So from the get go we can agree that sleep is important for life in general to avoid that awful post-crappy-night-of-sleep feeling.

Now how does sleep relate to fat loss? What I’m about to say might blow your mind:



Yes, sleep.

Not supersets and hours of cardio, or the perfect diet and becoming a macro boss.


Sleep might be the most underutilized and forgotten about tool we have to burn fat. Sleep may be the missing key for you if you’re struggling with fat loss. Are consistently fatigued? Craving sweets and salty high calorie low nutrient foods? Stressed the hell out? More sleep may be what you need. Consistent adequate sleep can fix SO many issues. It’s so important because recover when we sleep. If we don’t sleep, we don’t recover -- simple as that.

These top 3 reasons are going to breakdown EXACTLY why sleep is so freaking important in your journey with fat loss.

We Recover When We Sleep

This reason right here is the very first because, in my opinion, it’s the most important reason. There are physiological changes that occur when we sleep. When we’re trying to build muscle (which is the best way to burn fat again) our hormones play a HUGE role in helping you to do this. When we sleep Growth Hormone (GH) is released which aids in rebuilding muscle, bone, other tissues, results in improved kidney function and aids in the function of your immune system.

The greatest release of GH happens at night so if you’re not sleeping often for long enough, you’re not receiving that spike in GH! GH directly impacts protein synthesis as well as fat mobilization in the body. When you sleep and secrete GH your body is rebuilding your muscle and using fat as energy to do so. So not only is it helping you grow more muscle, but it’s also helping you burn more fat. So literally more sleep = more fat loss. Finally GH is highest the younger we are. As we start to age it declines in secretion so make sure you get your sleep in now!

It Dramatically Impacts Performance

We’ve already talked about how a poor performance in the gym KILLS your fat loss with my last article on the impact alcohol has on fat loss. If you can’t perform to your greatest potential, you’re not going to burn as many calories and thus not going to burn as much fat.

A lack of sleep has HUGE repercussions on your performance. It decreases your ability to multitask from a cognitive standpoint as well as your ability to react effectively. When we’re trying to lose fat, we need to hit compound movements that utilize multiple muscle groups. If we can’t multitask well, imagine trying to breathe, engage all the appropriate muscles, maintain stability and lift heavy at the same time sleep deprived. It just doesn’t work as well if you’re not well rested.

You simply will not perform as well physically without adequate sleep. In the recent olympics the swim team for the United States prioritized one thing over everything else: SLEEP! Yes, not nutrition, not exercises, not protein timing, SLEEP! While studying for my M.S. in Health and Physical Activity from the University of Pittsburgh, I had the fortune of hearing one of swimming coaches for Team USA speak about training Michael Phelps along with other athletes! Their entire day is planned out. Every single detail. Everything from what their training is going to be for the day, to EXACTLY what they are going to wear for the day. They need to have everything laid out so that the only thing they need to think about is swimming.

His biggest advice for adequate performance was sleep. Sometimes the athletes wanted to take ice baths or do other forms of recovery post practice which is great! However, if that recovery interfered with their strict sleep schedule, they couldn’t do it. ANYTHING that disturbed their sleep was completely avoided. Team USA absolutely DOMINATED the competition. Winning 16 gold medals, 8 silver and 9 bronze medals literally swimming past the competition, Team USA killed it. If gold winning olympic swimmers prioritize sleep for performance and do have THAT kind of result, we know sleep is the real deal for performance.

Illness & Injury Mitigation

As mentioned earlier, your immune system functionality is improved from GH which is secreted in high doses during sleep late into the night. Sleep deprivation leaves the body more susceptible to illness because the immune system is compromised. If we get sick, everything suffers. We feel like crap, can’t perform as well and may not even make it to the gym if we’re feeling bad enough.

If we’re not recovering properly through adequate sleep, our muscle isn’t growing back as strong, our bones don’t repair as much as they could be and injury is more likely. Cell repair is the essential component of recovery. When we workout (especially from lifting weights) our muscle and bones are broken down. Once we sleep and intake proper nutrition, those muscles and bones repair themselves stronger! Without proper sleep, this repairing process doesn’t happen. So think: chronic breakdown of muscles and bones + crappy sleep = injuries eventually. Injuries can have HUGE impact on our ability to get busy in the gym and even do basic tasks. Sometimes we’ll need rehab, casts and extensive recovery to get back to 100%. If we can mitigate that risk with just a few more hours of zzz’s, why not?

So by now you can see how important prioritizing sleep for more fat loss is! It’ll keep you in the gym working harder, recovering better and lower your risk for sickness or injury. Sleep may be the missing weapon in your fat loss arsenal. Well that, and a hiring a coach, but that’s a different story! Don’t neglect your sleep anymore if you want to lose fat. Get those hours in!

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