Interesting article on CNN.com yesterday discussing the tendency to crave junk food when sleep deprived.
An emerging body of research suggests that sleep-related hunger and food cravings, which may contribute to weight gain, are fueled in part by certain gut hormones involved in appetite. But our brain, and not just our belly, may play a role as well.
I’ve known plenty of career-driven, over-achieving athletes who suffered from a chronic lack of adequate sleep and had trouble eating well. In most cases, these were dedicated individuals who usually knew how to reach their goals. However, despite their dedication, they just couldn’t control their appetites for empty calories. I suspect that the addition of regular, intense physical training makes the situation even worse, possibly due in part to ever-rising cortisol levels.
As athletes we all too often get hung up on the details of our latest workout and lose focus on factors that play a greater role in reaching our goals — such as getting enough sleep, eating ample fruits and vegetables, maintaining proper hydration, or stretching regularly. If you’re training regularly with proper intensity and not making reasonable progress, chances are you’re lacking in some other area.
Step away from the bike, running shoes, or whatever else your training involves and regain perspective on everything else in your life. You’ll likely not only make better progress, you’ll also have more fun with the process.