How sleep impacts you health

Even the best efforts to count calories, cut down on fat, and exercise can leave you falling short of your goals when you don’t have good sleeping habits. Poor sleep can make it harder for you to lose weight and may intensify cravings for your favorite comfort foods. Besides, without enough rest, you won’t have the energy to exercise.

Healthy sleep is closely related to other healthy lifestyle factors, like exercise and diet, and plays a huge role in helping you stay mentally and physically energetic and healthy.

The Importance of Sleep, Exercise, and Diet

Good sleep habits and a healthy lifestyle — eating right and exercising — work together in a cyclical fashion. “A healthy lifestyle promotes sleep and, at the same time, adequate sleep also helps promote a healthy lifestyle,

Think about it. You need to be well rested to have the energy for a workout. And regular exercise can help to manage your stress levels and tire you out so that you sleep well at night. Being physically active also encourages you to make other healthy lifestyle choices. Just be sure to exercise no later than a few hours before bedtime so that you aren’t all revved up when you should be winding

Your eating habits are also connected to sleep. Eating a large meal just before bedtime can affect your quality of sleep. And not getting enough healthy sleep can trigger food cravings. “There is some preliminary data that shows that shortened sleep will increase your craving for carbohydrates and lead to weight gain,. So when you find yourself giving in to your pizza craving, you might try getting more sleep.

Sleep’s Impact on Overall Health

In addition to helping you manage your weight, getting healthy sleep (along with exercising and eating a healthy diet) can help you:

Prevent and manage a number of diseases, including diabetes and heart disease

Boost your energy levels

Increase alertness and improve concentration and memory

Manage stress levels

“Getting inadequate sleep by itself is a cause of stress on the body,” . Sleep deprivation boosts your body’s stress hormones. And if you can’t cope with stress, your sleep will suffer.

So ask yourself these questions: Are you getting enough sleep — between seven and eight hours each night? And is it healthy sleep — do you feel rested each morning when you wake?

Sleep works together with exercise and diet to keep your mind and body healthy, and for a healthy lifestyle, you need to practice all three — it’s hard to succeed in any one part of the puzzle without fitting in the other two.


Bulking explained and diet plan 

In essence, bulking is a phase in which a bodybuilder trains to a high intensity, limits cardiovascular training and increases calorie intake with the aim of facilitating muscle growth. Because the bodybuilder is within a calorie surplus environment some fat gains are usually accepted, but how much fat gain is deemed acceptable depends on the bodybuilder.
To further explain periodisation, the other phase bodybuilders usually undertake is known as cutting. As you may have guessed, this is the opposite to bulking, and involves a calorie restrictive environment, cardiovascular training to spur on fat loss and weight training aimed at maintaining muscle mass whilst the fat is being stripped away.

What is lean bulking?

Lean bulking may mean different things to different people.

For some, lean bulking means following a bulking phase which also limits unnecessary fat gain. This is opposed to the so called “dirty bulking” which describes bulking without a regard for fat gain and often an abundance of junk food. In this sense, what we describe in this article as bulking, and the subsequent sample meal plan, is lean bulking. The point of bulking is to facilitate an environment which is optimal for muscle gain, and this can be achieved without the need to notably increase fat levels which will just have to be reduced at a later date.

The other possible meaning of lean bulking is the belief of being able to increase muscle bulk whilst keeping fat levels abnormally low, or even reduce them from their current levels. This may be possible – mainly for beginners who will find this dual approach possible from sound training and a sensible diet alone, or by bodybuilders who take performance drugs – but for many intermediate to advanced trainers this will not be the case.


Generous serving of oats with skimmed milk

Large banana

350ml of cooked egg whites

Tbsp of flaxseed oil

Fruit juice or hot beverage


200g of tinned tuna

150g long grain brown rice

Generous serving of mixed veg


Chicken breast

Large baked potato

Item of fruit


Serving of a protein blend product or lean steak

150g wholemeal pasta

Mixed nuts and seeds

30 minutes before training 20g of whey protein in water

Post workout

40g of whey protein with 50g of dextrose or maltodextrin


200g of cooked salmon

250g sweet potato

Serving of veg


Tub of cottage cheese or serving of protein blend

Serving of oats with skimmed milk

This meal plan is merely a guide and it should be tailored for your specific needs, tastes and preferences. It is also recommended to vary the foods you consume each day to ensure you consume a variety of nutrients.

After a few weeks of following the diet, assess your progress. If you are gaining muscle mass whilst maintaining a good level of condition keep the meal plan in place. If, however, you are not gaining enough weight you may want to look to increase the calories, or inversely decrease the calories if you are gaining too much body fat.

Healthy eating hints and tips 

When it comes to dieting, lose the fads. The single most effective way to lose weight and maintain health is by making lasting lifestyle changes. Clean eating is a lifestyle that puts the boot to processed, packaged foods dripping with salt, sodium, and unpronounceable ingredients. It focuses instead on natural, nutrient-packed foods that let your body run the way it’s supposed to. Change how you look and feel with my clean eating tips.
Do eat four to six small meals a day. Smaller, more frequent meals will keep your blood sugar levels stable and will increase your metabolism. And, because the meals keep the tummy satisfied throughout the day, you’re less likely to turn into a pantry-raiding snack monster.
Don’t skip breakfast. Never. Ever. Your morning meal establishes healthy metabolism throughout day. What’s more, if you skip it, you’ll likely find yourself consuming larger quantities of food at later meals.
Do drink. Water, that is. Drink at least four to six glasses of H2O every day to keep the body hydrated. Water also helps the stomach feel full, making you less likely to give in to unhealthy snack attacks. For a refreshing twist on this go-to drink, try Morning Lemon & mint water

Don’t drink too much alcohol. Whether it’s wine or beer, alcohol offers only empty calories and no nutritional value. If you’re going to enjoy alcohol, save it for special occasions.

Do keep clean eating snacks on hand. Whether the day is filled with the kids’ sports events or running errands for an elderly parent, it’s easy to give in to the bad snack temptation. Stay on your clean eating track by packing up healthy snacks in advance.

Don’t sabotage yourself with sugar. Excess sugar is linked to a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and inflammation. Packaged and processed foods often flood the body with unneeded sugar. Even a product that sounds healthy, like store-bought applesauce, often contains too much refined sugar. Instead, satisfy a sweet tooth with natural sugars, like those found in a whole apple.

Do get very veggie. Vegetables deliver nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber.
Don’t serve super-sized portions. Even if you’re eating a clean diet, it will be hard to lose weight eating portions fit for a sumo champ!
Do combine lean protein and complex carbs at each meal. This clean eating one-two punch decreases insulin spikes and maintains energy levels. The combo also acts as a natural appetite suppressant, helping you feel fuller longer. Pair Chicken Pot Roast with your favorite salad topped with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar.

Don’t go into the week without a meal plan. Can’t answer the question, “what’s for dinner tonight?” Be a planner. Decide on a week’s worth of clean eating recipes ahead of time so that you don’t get stuck feeding the family a boxed meal containing processed or powdered who-knows-what.

12 diet tips to get you started 

1. Don’t skip breakfast
Research shows that eating breakfast helps you control your weight. Some people skip breakfast as they think it will help them loose weight but missing meals doesn’t help us lose weight and isn’t good for us because we can miss out on essential nutrients. It could also encourage us to snack more throughout the day because you feel hungry’.

2. Eat regular meals

Some people think missing meals will help them lose weight, but it has been shown that eating regularly during the day helps to burn calories at a faster rate as well as reduce the temptation to snack on foods high in fat and sugar.

3. Eat plenty of fruit and veg

Fruit and veg are low in calories and fat and high in fibre – three essential ingredients for successful weight loss. They also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals.

4. Get more active

Studies show that regular activity is key to losing weight and keeping it off. As well as providing numerous health benefits, exercise can help burn off the excess calories you can’t cut through diet alone. Find an activity you enjoy and are able to fit into your routine.

5. Drink plenty of water

People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger. You can end up consuming extra calories when a glass of water is really what you need. You should aim to drink about six to eight glasses (1.2 litres) of fluid, preferably water, every day – or more if it’s warm or you’re exercising.

6. Eat high-fibre foods

Foods containing lots of fibre will keep you feeling full for longer, which is perfect for losing weight. Fibre is only found in food from plants, such as fruit and veg, oats, wholegrain bread, brown rice and pasta, beans, peas and lentils.

7. Read food labels

Knowing how to read food labels can help you choose healthier options, and keep a check on the amount of calories, fat, salt and sugars you eat. Use the calorie information to work out how a particular food fits into your daily calorie allowance on the weight loss plan. Find out more about reading food labels.

8. Use a smaller plate

Studies show that people who use smaller plates tend to eat smaller portions and still be satisfied. By eating with smaller plates and bowls, you may be able to gradually get used to eating smaller portions without going hungry. It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain it’s full, so eat slowly and stop eating before you feel full.

9. Don’t ban foods

Don’t ban any foods from your weight loss plan, especially the ones you like. Banning foods will only make you crave them more. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the occasional treat as long as you stay within your daily calorie allowance.

10. Don’t stock junk food

To avoid temptation, avoid stocking junk food, such as chocolate, biscuits, crisps and sweet fizzy drinks, at home. Instead, stock up on healthy snacks, such as fruit, unsalted rice cakes, oat cakes, unsalted or unsweetened popcorn and fruit juice.

11. Cut down on alcohol

Did you know a standard glass of wine can contain as many calories as a piece of chocolate, and a pint of lager has about the same calorie count as a packet of crisps? Over time, drinking too much can easily contribute to weight gain.

12. Plan your meals

Plan your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the week, making sure you stick to your calorie allowance. Try to plan for four to seven days’ worth of meals and snacks. Make a shopping list, but don’t shop when you’re hungry as that can lead to high-calorie impulse buys!


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Cold days and cold nights!

As the days draw in and temperatures drop, you may be tempted to hang up your exercise gear and hibernate.
Don’t! Stay active throughout autumn and winter to beat those seasonal blues and feel on top of the world

Don’t worry if you’ve not done much for a while, these exercises are easy, gentle to follow and can also be done indoors.

More energy

Regular exercise will make you feel more energetic, which should make it a little easier to get out of your warm bed on cold, dark mornings.

Your body’s defences will also benefit. There is some limited research suggesting that moderate exercise can strengthen the immune system, thereby reducing the risk of coughs and colds. However, more research is needed in this area.

If the shorter days are affecting your mood, being active can improve your sense of wellbeing.

You may be tempted to eat more during the colder months. Exercising will help you manage your weight better and keep your body in shape.

Warm up

If you’re starting a new exercise regime, don’t overdo it. Slowly build the amount of exercise you do. If you can’t manage 30 minutes in one go, break it up into 10-minute chunks.

Always warm-up for up to 10 minutes before you start. Walk at a brisk pace, or jog in order to warm your muscles.

Make sure you’re warm if you’re going outside. Wear several layers to keep the heat in.

A lot of heat escapes through your head, so consider wearing a hat as well.

Stay safe

If you’re exercising after dark, keep to well-lit areas and wear bright and reflective clothing. Ideally, exercise with a friend, but always tell someone where you’re going.

Avoid listening to music while running outdoors. Not hearing what’s going on around you can make you vulnerable

If rain or ice is making exercise dangerous, do it another day. The weather might be better tomorrow, but an injury could take weeks to heal.

Choose an activity that you enjoy. Now might be the time to try something new that you can do indoors, such as:








fitness classes

five-a-side football







table tennis

tai chi

You could take a long walk at the weekend or go for a bike ride. Just wrap up warm and be careful if it’s wet or icy. Get tips on walking for health.

If being outside when it’s windy, raining or snowing doesn’t appeal, rent a fitness video and try doing some exercise at home.

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