The LIFE study, a large 2-phase weight loss study, has found some interesting connections from the completed phase one. In phase one, study participants take part in counseling, 500 calorie reduction diet based on the DASH diet and 180 min of exercise a week.

60% of the participants were successful in phase one; meaning they lost at least 10 pounds and met the 180 min of weekly exercise requirement. They also attended 73% of their counseling sessions on average. When researchers looked at the differences between the successful group of participants and the unsuccessful group, they came up with 2 areas that differentiated them – stress and sleep.

Stress had a very strong correlation with success for the study participants. Those who reported high levels of stress were much less likely to succeed. The participants who were most successful slept an average of 7 hours per night.

If you’re trying to lose weight, make sure you think about your stress levels. If you feel stressed on a daily basis, you need to address the problem and find ways to eliminate or deal with the sources of stress in your life. Stress and sleep are very much intertwined. If you’re too stressed you may find it hard to sleep – making it even harder for you to lose weight. And if you aren’t getting enough sleep, that can be a source of stress. So make sure plan for 6-8 hours of sleep each night and take time to wind down and relax each day.

Some more interesting research finding about stress and sleep:

A study conducted with Puerto Ricans living in Boston found that high reported levels of stress were correlated with lower fruit, vegetable and protein intake, and also an increased intake of sweets. High levels of stress were also found to correlate with increased levels of insulin and high BMI. Stressed-out people aren’t eating right, their bodies are storing more fat and they are heavier. And I bet it’s a cycle – that those people are getting stressed out because they aren’t happy with themselves and because the foods they are eating are toxic.

An interesting study about sleep timing from Northwestern University found a couple differences between normal sleepers and late sleepers. They found that late sleepers slept fewer hours, ate more calories at dinner and after 8 PM, ate more fast food, drank more soda and had lower fruit and vegetable consumption. People who are going to bed late are eating more and making poorer food choices.


Impact of sleep, screen time, depression and stress on weight change in the intensive weight loss phase of the LIFE study International Journal of Obesity. 2011 March 29; doi:10.1038/ijo.2011.60

Effects of hyperlipidaemia on glucocorticoid metabolism: results of a randomized controlled trial in healthy young women. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2011 May;74(5):551-7.

Disturbed glucoregulatory response to food intake after moderate sleep restriction. Sleep. 2011 Mar 1;34(3):371-7.