Interesting research on the nutrition front. As always, a study does not make a fact, but properly done and viewed in its proper context can lead to some important clues on the way to true understanding. Health and Fitness professionals have known for a long time that people who sleep less (not including cocaine and methamphetamine abusers) tend to be more overweight than the general population. There are probably a host of contributing factors that play into this observation.
I’ve always argued that, biochemically, food is the fuel for your body. Everything you do requires energy, even the things you don’t consciously control. Breathing, heart beating, twitching, thinking, are all energy-consuming activities. Even the act of being awake is more energy-consuming than being asleep. While this might sound like a perfect complement to a weight loss regimen; stay up as many hours as possible and think a lot; the reality is that the human machine never wants to run in an energy deficit, and it never wants to burn stored energy (fat) if it can help it! The human body understands fat in a completely different way from your conscious mind. Every drop of excess body fat is there to save your life, on a cellular level.
“But wait”, you might say, “doesn’t being overweight contribute to early onset cardiovascular diseases and diabetes”? Yes it does, but only of you live long enough. Your body, on the cellular level isn’t concerned about your health over 10 year periods. It’s concerned with keeping you alive one day at a time, and it understands body fat as a protective mechanism to keep you alive as long as possible should you ever run out of food for an extended period of time. A pound of fat is 3500 calories of energy to keep your heart beating, lungs breathing, and all your neurological functions functioning in the absence of food. 3500 calories can keep you alive for a week, assuming you at least have water. That’s how your body views fat, and once it stores it away is loath to tap it. It’s also important to remember that converting fat into usable energy is a metabolically slow process, and the brain, heart, lungs, and cells, need energy now, not in ten minutes.
It only makes sense then that should a person stay awake for overextended periods of time, the body will demand extra, new energy intake (food), to keep itself awake to continue whatever activities your engaged in, even if it’s just sitting in front of the tv, vegging. It only makes sense that the food your body will crave is food that will be hi in instant energy (sugar) and long-term dense energy (fat); the perfect combination of late night snacking to keep you up and to keep you alive for the next week or two. Just don’t worry about the next few years…when you might drop dead.
Anyway, read on: