Weight Loss

The Gut-Sleep-Diet Connection: The Trifecta of Optimal Health

June 20, 2023

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I'm Lacy — a Holistic Nutrition Health coach for Christian women. I'm here to help you lose the weight and negative thinking that hold you back in your health journey, so you can live free!

Meet Lacy

“Sleep is not an optional lifestyle luxury. Sleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity.”

-Matthew Walker “Why We Sleep”

Managing your weight is influenced by how you sleep, and sleep is affected by what you eat. Your diet and sleep are obviously connected, and both are essential to your mental and physical wellbeing and yet, they are highly undervalued in our day to day lives.

But there is also a third piece of the puzzle just as important and connected- your gut health!

If you are wanting to lose weight, eat better, ditch digestive struggles and feel more rested, start by practicing some of these lifestyle habits today.

Change Your Sleeping Habits:

1. Resist cravings. Sleep deprivation interferes with making sound decisions, so you’re more likely to choose French fries when you are tired over a salad. You’re also less likely to reach for comfort foods when your body feels well-rested. If you are not sleeping well your cravings will be higher. Stop the cycle!

2. Balance your hormones. Lack of sleep disrupts your hormones. Ghrelin levels rise and Leptin levels fall, making you WANT to eat more. Hangry!?

“Inadequate sleep—even moderate reductions for just one week—disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic.”

― Matthew Walker, “Why We Sleep”

And you know that Insulin is your master hormone? Again, it’s all connected!

3. Boost your metabolism. Your body needs adequate rest in order to process insulin effectively. Otherwise, your metabolism slows down and your body stores more fat. Fast tip: Weight train, and eat more protein! Your metabolism will rise, and exercise will help you sleep better!

4. Be consistent. To get sufficient sleep, try going to bed and waking up on a regular schedule. Stick to your routine even on weekends and holidays. You need these rhythms for optimal health.

5. Wake up early. Studies show that night owls tend to eat diets higher in unhealthy fats and overall calories. Training yourself to rise earlier may help you lose weight.

6. Adjust the lights. Morning light helps you to become alert, and dark nights help you to fall asleep. Eat breakfast outside or take a walk before work. Close your bedroom curtains at night, and shut off TV and computer screens an hour or two before you go to bed. Yes! This also means shutting down the phone. If you feel like you can’t do this, check your settings and switch to night time light settings, and invest in some blue light blockers.

7. Block out noise. Are you bothered by car alarms and loud neighbors? Drown out background noises with a fan, or pink or white noise machines.

Change Your Eating Habits:

1. Set a curfew. Digesting heavy meals makes it more difficult to sleep. Avoid late night snacking and perhaps try to substitute snacks after dinner with hot herbal tea. Ideally, stop drinking and eating at least 3 hours before bedtime if possible. (More on this another time.)

2. Monitor caffeine. Moderate amounts of caffeine are safe for most adults. However, the stimulating effects can last anywhere from 5 to 12 hours depending on the individual. Cut back on coffee and chocolate if caffeine keeps you up at night, or remember to have a cut off time that works for you.

3. Cut out the wine. Alcohol may make you sleepy, but you’ll probably toss and turn. Skip the nightcap and drink plain water before bed.

4. Create rituals. Most people find it easier to stick to a morning routine, but struggle with a bed time routine. Just like you have to set up boundaries to get to work in the morning, and not let any distractions keep you from your job, do the same for your evening routine. Put boundaries around your sleep like it’s your job! Do you need a cup of hot tea to wind down? Set phone to “Do not disturb”? Put on the essential oil diffuser or read a little to unwind? Whatever you choose to set the scene, try to stick with what works for you.

5. Eat more magnesium. Nutrients like magnesium act as natural muscle relaxants that fight anxiety and encourage sleep. Foods high in magnesium include leafy green vegetables, (raw) dairy products, and nuts. Supplementing magnesium may be necessary or helpful for your sleep goals. I use this one.

Level Up Your Gut Routine:

1. Incorporate Fiber-Rich Foods. One way to create a healthy gut routine is by incorporating a variety of fiber-rich foods into your diet. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are excellent sources of dietary fiber, which helps promote regular bowel movements and supports the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Constipation is blocking (pun intended) you from experience optimal rest. Your body detoxes and cleans house at night. You’ll experience deeper restoration at night if you can keep things moving along. If this is your struggle, try this. And let’s have a conversation, because I want to help you!

2. Consume Probiotic-Rich Foods. Another way to nurture a healthy gut is by including probiotic-rich foods in your daily routine. Foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha contain live beneficial bacteria that can support a balanced gut microbiome and improve digestion.

3. Manage Stress and Prioritize Sleep. The gut-brain connection is strong, and stress can disrupt the balance of your gut. Incorporating stress management techniques, such as scripture, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in activities you enjoy, can positively impact your gut health.

4. Take a Probiotic that Fights Yeast. Because we do not eat as many probiotic rich fermented foods as we use to back in the day, supplementation is necessary. But, with hundreds of probiotics on the market, picking the right one can be overwhelming and expensive in the pursuit.

  • Try one that fights yeast overgrowth. If you are only adding in good bacteria, but not killing the bad microbes like yeast/fungus, and viruses, it’s like planting a garden with weeds. Your probiotic will be much more affective if you address the yeast/weeds (bad microbes) at the same time, and not just adding in the good guys to a garden full of weeds.
  • While for years we were told refrigerated probiotics are best, if those probiotics die at room temperature, how will they ever make it to your small intestines where you want them to go? This is why I’ve made the switch to freeze dried. These are shelf stable, but living until they reach the place where you want them to go. Find my favorite probiotic here.

Keep in mind that what you do in the kitchen may affect how you sleep, and what you do in the bedroom may affect how you eat, and ALL of this affects your gut microbiome.

Looking for extra sleep support? Sleep is my go to sleep gummy supplement which includes melatonin, prebiotics, and a tranquil blend of ashwagandha (an adaptogenic herb) along with GABA, lemon balm extract, and L-tryptophan. I know you’ll love it.

For more fascinating education and research on sleep, check out this Ted talk by Matthew Walker.

Sleep well my friend!

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