diets pool sleep quality

While dropping a few pounds can have a positive impact on your health, there is an increasing number of popular diets that promote unhealthy eating habits that may disrupt your sleep. 

Using data from fitness tracking app MyFitnessPal, MattressNextDay analyzed a typical one-day meal plan for the most popular diets including Keto, Mediterranean, Paleo, Atkins, Vegan, DASH, SlimFast, Alkaline, Dukan, Raw Food, South Beach, and Macrobiotic diet. The experts looked at the daily nutrients in each diet and then compared this to the NHS’ daily recommend amount. 

The Five Worst Diets for Your Sleep, Revealed 1

South Beach Diet

This is a low-GI diet, which was originally developed for heart patients in the United States.

  • What deficiency can this cause? A typical one-day meal plan on the South Beach Diet results in consuming 23g of carbohydrates. This is a staggering 91% less than the NHS’s recommended minimum intake at 260g.   
  • How does this deficiency disrupt sleep? Many people who are on the South Beach diet wake up through the night due to a lack of carbs and hunger plans – disrupting their sleeping pattern. Carbs are also needed for a good night’s sleep, as they boost tryptophan and serotonin, two chemicals involved in sleep. 

Macrobiotic Diet

This diet considers whole-grains to be a staple food. The rules are strict: brown rice, organic vegetables and lentils are in, and anything processed is out. Followers must only eat when they are hungry and have to chew each mouthful 50 times. 

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  • What deficiency can this cause? A typical one-day meal plan on the Macrobiotic Diet results in consuming 9g of carbohydrates. This is a 87% less than the NHS’s recommended maximum intake at 70g.   
  • How does this deficiency cause disrupted sleep? Not having enough fat in your diet can reduce your core body temperature at night, and give you less insulation from the cold and keep you awake. In turn, this will make you more mentally fatigued and increase your chances of insomnia. 

Alkaline Diet

The Alkaline Diet involves cutting back on foods which produce acid when digested. On the banned list includes all meat, wheat, refined sugar, diary, caffeine, alcohol and processed food. Instead, they are replaced by plenty of fruit and vegetables.

  • What deficiency can this cause? A typical one-day meal plan on the Alkaline Diet results the consumption of just 576 calories. This is 71% less than the NHS’s recommended calorie intake of 2,000 for women, and 2,500 for men. 
  • How does this deficiency cause disrupted sleep? This diet works on the theory that making your body more alkaline can help you lose weight, however, this diet is known to have lasting negative effects, and cause fatigue and nutrient deficiencies.

Dukan Diet

This is a high-protein, low-carb eating plan that began in France to re-educate people about how to eat healthily.

  • What deficiency can this cause? A typical one-day meal plan on the Dukan Diet results in consuming 3g of sugar. This is a staggering 97% less than the NHS’s recommended intake at 90g.  
  • How does this deficiency disrupt sleep? A sudden and dramatic decrease in sugar can make you experience a range of mental and emotional symptoms including anxiety, insomnia and cravings – all of which can cause disrupted sleep. While these are likely temporary, it can make it harder to stick to a healthy diet.

Atkins Diet

The famous Atkins Diet works by turning your body into a fat-burning machine. Its theory is that if you cut carbohydrates out of your diet completely, your body will start burning fat for energy. 

  • What deficiency can this cause? A typical one-day meal plan on the Atkins Diet results in consuming 3g of sodium. This is 50% less than the NHS’s recommended intake at 6g.  
  • How does this deficiency cause disrupted sleep? A low sodium diet can cause insomnia, because of the increase of a stress hormone which is released on this low carb, high protein diet. It can also cause fatigue and lethargy, which could encourage people to reach for high energy or sugar-rich food before bed – increasing their chances of a disrupted sleep. 

Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy added: “Sleep deprivation increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and dementia. One of the key underlying reasons for these grim statistics may be because of lack of sleep results in changes in the levels of the hunger hormones – leptin, and ghrelin.”

The Top 5 Ways to Lose Weight That Won’t Disrupt Your Sleep

MattressNextDay also asked various experts for their advice on weight loss which wouldn’t impact a person’s sleep. Below you’ll find their top five favorite tips for loosing weight without loosing sleep:

  • Balance – You certainly don’t need to deprive yourself of any delicious Christmas food and drink this season. However, try to balance your food intake as this will support healthy blood sugar levels and give you the energy you need, whilst keeping yourself fuller for longer.  
  • Smart snacking – Choose snacks with high fiber and protein to help keep you full for longer. For example, wholegrain crackers with cottage cheese, or strawberries dipped in natural yogurt.
  • Increase your vegetable intake – Try to add one or two portions of vegetables to each lunch and dinner to ensure you’re eating a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. 
  • Reduce convenience food – Reduce your intake of these foods, and you’ll naturally reduce your sugar intake, too. Instead, opt for slow-releasing foods such as beans, pulses, nuts, whole grains, and vegetables.
  • Don’t diet! – If diets worked, there wouldn’t be a diet industry. Diets always involve some form of deprivation and if the body is deprived, it craves whatever you’re depriving of. Instead, follow the 80/20 rule – 80% of the time eat nutritionally dense food, and 20% of the time, allow yourself to have things that you’re craving. 

For tips on foods that will help you sleep or more information on common sleep disorders, check out our advice section.

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