Less sleep can alter fat metabolism in the body

It is not just the mood that changes with those nights when we are "due to sleep." According to a new study from Pennsylvania State University, when we don't get enough sleep the way our bodies metabolize the fat we eat changes, making us want to eat more than we really need. This extra desire comes from the apparent need to store energy, says Orfeu Buxton, a bio-behavioral health professor and one of the researchers involved in the study.

“While this has been a good evolutionary mechanism for storing energy in tough times, it is not so good in today's developed world, where we are relatively inactive and it is possible to get low-cost, calorie-free food with no physical effort., said

The new study points out that higher insulin levels after an evening meal produce faster fat release (lipid), which can result in weight gain.

Sleep deprivation and weight gain are related

The tests were performed with 15 healthy male participants, aged around 20 years. They spent ten nights in a suite at the Pennsylvania State University Clinical Research Center after sleeping ten hours a night at home. In the laboratory, participants ate a high-fat, high-calorie meal and then slept for a maximum of five hours a night for four straight nights.

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The result was a complaint from most participants who said they felt less satisfied after eating the same sleepy meal than when they had slept regularly, said University of Washington postdoctoral student Kelly Ness. She conducted the study when she was a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University.

In addition, the researchers took participants' blood samples at mealtimes and found that sleep restriction caused increased insulin levels, which resulted in faster release of fat in the blood. "During a lifetime of short sleep exposure, this can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes or other metabolic diseases, " said Ness.

To complete the study, participants slept again 10 hours a night for two consecutive nights. Despite slightly improving the metabolic processing of food fat, they did not return to healthy levels after two nights.

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For researchers, this finding showing complex metabolic changes after periods of restricted sleep may explain how weight gain is related to sleep deprivation. “By storing fat quickly, fat tissue seems to divert fuel utilization from fat and prioritize the use of sugars as fuel. Here we show evidence that sleep restriction exaggerates this process, conserving energy stores, ”says Pennsylvania State University associate professor of nutrition sciences Greg Shearer.

The article showing the study and its results was published in the Journal of Lipid Research .