Do you struggle with unwanted belly fat? Not getting enough sleep may be the culprit, a recent study suggests. Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the study found that insufficient sleep increases calorie consumption and fat accumulation, leading to unhealthy fat deposition inside the belly. In the study, getting 4 hours of sleep per night led to a 9% increase in total abdominal fat area and an 11% increase in abdominal visceral fat. This type of fat is deposited deep inside the abdomen around internal organs and is linked to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
“Our findings show that shortened sleep- even in young, healthy and relatively lean subjects- is associated with an increase in calorie intake, a very small increase in weight, and a significant increase in fat accumulation inside the belly,” says Dr. Virend Somers, the study’s principal investigator. “Normally, fat is deposited under the skin, but inadequate sleep appears to redirect fat to the more dangerous visceral compartment. Importantly, although during recovery sleep there was a decrease in calorie intake and weight, visceral fat continued to increase. This suggests that inadequate sleep is a previously unrecognised trigger for visceral fat deposition, and that catch-up sleep, at least in the short term, does not reverse the visceral fat accumulation.”
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