Can Eating Meat Help You Sleep Better?

Those looking to lose excess bodyweight are advised to get enough sleep, as this helps to balance the hormonal cascade and initiates cell repair and normalization. New research is showing that a diet higher in protein not only helps with weight loss, but also improves sleep at the same time, making it twice as easy to improve body composition.

In a pilot study, 14 participants who were aiming to lose weight consumed more protein with their meals, and reported better sleep and a loss of body fat after four weeks on the diet. These results led into the main study, involving 44 individuals who were overweight or obese. They were broken down into two groups, one consuming “normal” amounts of protein at 0.8 grams per kg of body weight, or a “high” protein group at 105 grams per kg. Study subjects remained on their assigned diet for 16 weeks. Those in the high protein group reported improved sleep after this intervention.

Sources of protein used in study

In both groups, a dietitian designed the diets, and removed 750 calories from the carbohydrate and fat groups, and normalized the remaining caloric intake dependent on the study group. Sources of protein ranged from pork, dairy, soy, and beef, though further research is needed on if different types of protein improve sleep and other biomarkers significantly enough to impact recommendations. Many protein sources have varying levels of different amino acids that can potentially impact hormonal balance, leading to the changes in sleep quality.

This study was headed by Dr. Wayne Campbell, out of Purdue University. His lab has also studied the impact of dietary protein on appetite, body weight, and body composition, dependent on quantity, sources, and patterns of consumption.

Sufficient restful sleep is an essential aspect of health that many clients ignore, possibly because of responsibilities, leisure activities, or simply the inability to sleep well. Society also looks highly upon a lack of sleep, associating it with ambition and success, while being fully rested can be seen as laziness. Since lack of sleep can lead to complications such as metabolic disorders and cardiovascular disease, clients may need help in modifying their habits to account for restful nights that allow them to meet their sleep needs.

Minimum needed for basic physiological function

The current US recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is set at 0.8 grams per kg of bodyweight. This amount is noted to be the minimum needed for basic physiological function, and to not suffer any immediate negative health effects. While this may be sufficient protein for healthy, inactive adults, clients with greater metabolic needs or existing health complications may want to consider increasing this amount.

The subject of protein intake is hotly debated between various health fields and fitness arenas, though it’s difficult to consume too much. Clients with kidney diseases may have special requirements in this regard, as too much protein can cause further damage. For clients looking to lose weight, improve sleep, and increase overall heath, using a standard for protein consumption greater than 0.8 grams per kg of body weight might be a good tactic. Clients may need assistance in formulating a food plan that targets their macronutrient consumption within certain limits, and they may need additional education when it comes to choosing protein sources and measuring food, especially by weight. Often, perceived consumption varies from actual consumption, so for some individuals, tracking could be the key to seeing these benefits.

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