Sleep, hormones, stress, and how it all impacts body composition.
As a fitness professional I’ve realized one of the most important things I need to understand is how to be a better coach/ communicator. Ultimately, fitness and nutrition are simple. But humans, & the human body are beyond complicated. We’re all different. And a huge reason why most aspiring fitness professionals fail is because they try to treat everyone the same way they treat themselves. And although we are all different the same rules ,as they apply to body composition, are the same for all of us.
Calories in vs calories out?A calorie is heat energy in the amount needed to raise 1 gram of water, 1 degree Celsius . Obviously we get our calories from food. The food is then broke down, released and stored into our bodies and converted into energy (better known as metabolism, studied in bioenergetics). And yes, if we burn more calories than we put in , we lose weight. And if we put in more calories than we burn off we gain weight. Simple enough, and that is the bottom line. But theres more to it than that.
Our brains control everything, its the most metabolically active organ. In other words, our of our main organs: brain, heart liver and kidneys that voluntarily function the brain requires the most energy expediture ( I told you the human body was very complicated). And brain is the communicator with the body for hormonal responses with hormones: cue up the coritsol!
Coritsol is the stress hormone, also known as the fight or flight hormone. It increases sugar in our bloodstream, ands enhances our brain’s use of blood sugar. In short when we’re under stress, our adrenal glands pump out coritsol to help us manage such stress. If we get proper sleep, we should be pumping out plenty of cortisol to start off the day.
But happens when we don’t get adequate sleep? Well cortisol is low.Combine the sleep deprived individual with the hormonal imbalance of low cortisol, and when met with the days stressors, how might we respond ( likely less than ideal). And when stress gets to us, we reach for comfort foods and do all the things we said we wouldn’t do:
- an extra glass of wine
- *another slice of pizza
on an on with very little thought. And what we’re doing along this process is raising those cortisol levels through the day to the point when they’re extremely high when it’s time for us to go sleep( exactly when cortisol should be low). The result, another crappy sleep, cause the process to repeat itself over and over.
So is calories in vs calories out ultimately what determines body composition? Absolutely, but many factors contribute: sleep, stress, hydration hormones, genetics(a factor, but NOT THE factor), metabolic disease(very rare), and mindset. But above all , prioritize rest, get those Zzz’s in.