2. Go to sleep earlier: A study in BMC Public Health found that people who racked up insufficient sleep on the reg were more likely to have a higher BMI. Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Chicago found that sleep loss causes decreased glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity (those processes that cause your body to shuttle nutrients into fat cells instead of muscle cells) as well as elevated levels of ghrelin—the hunger hormone—and cortisol, the stress hormone that encourages your body to store fat. What’s more, the less you sleep, the less testosterone your body is able to produce. In short, skimping on sleep messes with all the hormones that help extra fat off your body—so hit the hay already. Shoot for at least 7 hours a night, more if you’re training hard because your body needs more time to repair and rest.
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2. Eat smaller meals more frequently: “Insulin is probably the single most important factor that contributes to fat storage,” Seedman explains. This hormone is activated when you eat and responsible for shuttling nutrients into cells, either fat or muscle. A quick biology lesson: Every time you eat a meal, your blood glucose spikes, and when this goes up, so do your insulin levels. More calories at once means a larger spike in both. When these levels are sky high, it signals to your body to put nutrients into fat cells instead of muscle, causing an accumulation of fat, Seedman explains. The same thing happens when your insulin stays elevated for a prolonged period of time, which is why it’s important to let yourself become hungry before eating again, he adds. Aim for five to six meals throughout the day.