We all should know by now the importance of deep restful sleep.
We spend a lot of time during our lives sleeping and if it’s a good sleep then it’ll help with everything else in life too. If we could burn fat while we were sleeping and wake up each day a little bit leaner, wouldn’t that be the coolest thing?
It sounds too good to be true, but it take a little bit of thought, hard work, counting and meal and exercise timing….it will bring miraculous results, but of course there are no miracle cures….
It makes sense then to optimise sleep in order to prime the body to burn more fat, you can also optimise the amount of fat you burn while you sleep — which is excellent.
It’s a bit like making money while you sleep really. Win-win.
Before we look at enhancing fat burning while we sleep directly, we need to step back into meal frequency and eating patterns to understand how the body burns and stores fat.
Too busy to read on? Here’s the money shot;
- Get into a calorie deficit and try not to eat 4–5 hours before you go to bed, ideally exercise 20–45 minutes between your last meal and bedtime. Use aminos + minerals to help sleep and feel full before bedtime.
- Eat 2:1:1 macros (see below for what that looks like) within a 6 hour window
- Exercise before you eat and exercise after your last meal
- Take at night, R5s + fish oils + curcumin (optional to add in Rutin / glycine 2.5g) and additional magnesium (glycinate or mixed)
- Take Metabolic Optimiser in the morning before training with Metabolic Amino Complex, Collagen and electrolyte tablet
So, this might look like, AM wake up + coffee + supplements. Wait 30 minutes then do AM session. Minimum 30 minutes. Eat at 9–9.30am Eggs in some form + veggies. Lunch 12.30–1pm chicken and veggies. Snack 3pm protein bar + coffee / green tea. PM meal by 6pm Large fish + fibrous vegetables. PM exercise 8–9pm — bedtime supplementation and wind down. Repeat — off meals carb reload minimum once per week. Up to twice depending on training intensity. Minimum 3 litres water each day.
Useful additional supplementation adaptogens, multi vitamin (as low-calorie diet). For muscle use Power Loader + creatine.
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BOTTOM LINE STUFF
Energy balance refers to how much energy you consume vs how much energy you burn. In order to lose fat, you need to have a net deficit. You can optimise everything, fasting, sleeping, fasted cardio, inflammation, gut health etc, etc. But if you still over-consume total calories, whether it’s daily or in 2 days off plan — you’ll stay the same, if you train enough to balance it out or gain some fat if you don’t.
Whilst energy balance is the ultimate gaffer of fat loss if you like, it’s clear there are functional differences between eating 2000 calories of salmon vs 2000 calories of refined table sugar. So the quality of the foods you eat is important for longer-term sustained weight loss the main factor being eating a high nutrient density but lower energy density diet 80% of the time. The 1st law of thermodynamics is key but if you read into this you’ll find the 2nd law of thermodynamics is just as important — that’s the vessel within which you burn the energy…. This is as much about gut health as it is about exercise and food choices.
GETTING INTO THE ZONE AND STAYING THERE
You need a sustained period in your ‘zone’ for burning body fat before the results will be really tangible. You need in essence to create the right environment for your cells to give up their stored energy, without overly replenishing these stores at any given point.
NB — refeeds are required to keep the fat cells and other hormones in the right place for sustained fat loss.
Each time we eat the meal has the potential to aid you. It’s an opportunity to improve your health, well-being and body composition — take it.
You will enter into a feeding opportunity at varying levels of depletion. Either after a sleep, a workout, or a few hours after another meal you may have consumed.
The amount of energy you need to consume from your meal depends on your overall body composition requirements, your daily energy expenditure and what you’ve just done training-wise + what you got planned later and for the rest of the week. Calorie targets and deficits can be considered, daily, weekly and monthly.
BURNING FAT WHILE YOU SLEEP — HOW NOT TO DO IT
When we eat, we digest and absorb food, this is called the absorptive phase. Once this is done, we enter the post-absorptive phase where we create energy from our food and fat stores.
How this ties back into burning fat while you sleep is down to how long you spend in the absorption phase after eating a meal, this is the digestion and storage phase, including replenishing glycogen stores (if that’s a requirement) rebuilding muscle and topping up fat stores (usually not desirable). This phase usually lasts 2–3 hours to 4–5 hours max if it’s been a massive feed.
After this phase, other hormones are released which help us mobilise fat for fuel.
Let’s take 3 different scenarios to look at this in more detail;
Exercising but staying the same. AM fasted HIIT. Large omelette for breakfast, 2 x toast and marmite, Protein bar mid-morning, chicken + vegetables, rice and salad for lunch. Protein shake in the afternoon, 30 minutes resistance training. PM Beef stew large bowl + second helping. PM slow-release casein shake.
Now if exercise is progressive and calories matched there should be a body re-composition effect from this diet. The exercise is mostly pure muscle stim work, due to higher intensity and focus on weights, there’s no longer duration aerobic stuff in this other than walking. This diet would be typical for a coach or support staff member in a rugby training camp.
A couple of things to note are the frequency of feeding from breakfast right through until snack at night every 3 hours. Plus, the presence of starches alongside protein + vegetables. This will increase the insulin released from the meals. There’s little opportunity to enter a post-absorptive phase on this plan cause there’s food going into the system all day long. The food is matching the energy burnt from exercise and walking.
This could be described as a maintenance phase with the potential for strength and fitness gains.
Exercise but gaining fat. In this instance, we have AM cardio or weights after amino acid shakes. Then fasting until a higher protein lunch + veggies. Final meal (early) 5/6 pm — usually some pre-meal snacks, nuts, crisps, 2 x beers, then a larger protein-based meal. 2 glasses of wine and sometimes pudding afterwards 3–4 x per week.
Things to note; empty calories and metabolic effects of ethanol combine with the largest ingestion of total calories in the PM. Sugary pudding at circa 9pm also will still be digesting and absorbing into the sleep which is usually 10–10.30pm. There’s plenty of fat burning and using up glycogen reserves in the AM but this will be just about but not quite getting through all the stored PM calories. This is quite common with general working folk who might snack, have coffees, etc and maybe not even exercise, then pack in a bottle of wine and a larger meal at night. Wondering why they are getting gradually fatter.
While exercise fitness gains might be made on this phase, however, fat gains will gradually make the environment less healthy. Plus there are excessive units for alcohol consumption.
BURN FAT WHILE YOU SLEEP AND LOOK LEANER EACH DAY
The Holy Grail exercising, losing fat and gaining muscle.
In this example the golden Amino Man Magic Macros ™ come into play 2:1:1 PRO:CHO:FAT daily. AM cardio, PM weights, walking 12–20k results 4kg body fat in 5 weeks, +1.3kg lean mass.
Here is how your statistics may look over a month. This is a 45-year-old male — real-world results.
120g Protein 480cals 28.5%
120g Carbs 480cals 28.5%
80g Fat 720cals 43%
Exercise minimum 1 hour daily
12 k steps daily average
Adaptogens and Amino Acid support essential on this plan
Net Calories often zero or negative note this doesn’t matter as around 2000 quality calories are being consumed each day.
You can see meal plans for this system in the Revive in 5 brochure (download here).
It’s easy to eat without thinking and we often do so. However, each time you eat you should view this as a feeding opportunity. The meal you choose to have and the food you add to your plate will directly affect your cells and the rate they recover and express themselves. In plain English this means a meal will either;
Make you fatter than you already are and lower your energy
Keep you about the same as you are and possibly still lower your energy
Recover your muscles and keep the fat burning environment ticking over and increase your energy
Sometimes you can eat a meal that will be spot on but if you top it off with a pudding — the resulting excess insulin release will ruin the desired effect unless it’s post-workout.
The point is a meal is an opportunity to improve yourself and your performance — take it!
Suggested ratios of food are included on sheets at the end of this document.
Remember that getting it right 90% of the time is about right which leaves 4 ‘off’ meals each week.
Fat Loss keeping things simple
Remember your goals
DEEPER DIVE — EXAMPLE WEEKLY PLANS AND MACRO BY BODY WEIGHT CHARTS
Fat Loss = sustaining a deficit through exercise and under eating calories.
Best macros are 2:1:1 for DESIRED LEAN WEIGHT. E.g. 150kg person at 45% body fat should not eat 300g protein if they need to weight 75kg. They should eat 2 x 75kg (rough lean weight) so 150g protein per day.
Macros are actual macros not total weight of protein for example 120g of actual chicken gives 25–30g of protein.
Fasting allows easier deficit. Also, you can combine 2 meals into one larger evening meal. You can also under eat going from 4 feeds to 3 feeds.
Ketosis is where you shift to using only fat for fuel. You need to drop protein, increase fats and decrease carbs. Approx 60–70% fat, 10–20% protein and 10–20% carbs.
The more you exercise the more you can eat fat/carbs and stay in ketosis. Ketosis should be a shorter-term strategy where you can go into a lower-carb phase, with periodic refeeds.
The 2:1:1 is about 40% fat, 40% protein and 20% carbs as energy. You ADD IN more workout nutrition from carb/protein and amino shakes. This can be matched to the energy you burn in a session, e.g. if you burn 500 cals you can add in 500 cals, in my experience it’s better to match by 50% so if you burn 500 cals then add in 250 additional calories.
Ketosis is good for short term fast fat loss and should not be used for longer term health and wellness. It’s is a starvation response. It can bring short term gains but should not be a long-term approach.
A low carb, Mediterranean diet can be followed in the longer term. With fasting and refeeds and so on.
Whether you fast or stick to more regular meals depends on which method keeps you on track best. If you get too hungry and go ‘off plan’ fasting then keep to 3 hour intervals. 9am, 12 midday, 3pm and 6pm give or take an hour. Or 11, 2, 5 and 8pm.
Meals ‘off plan’ or refeeding days are important from a physiological (you store glycogen afterward making life and workouts easier) and psychological it’s good to work towards a rest and recovery day.
Here’s my ‘in camp’ nutrition plan.