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Today’s Health Upgrade
How to lose 5 pounds in your sleep
The supplement-free strength boost
Is optimization overrated?
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How to Lose 5 Pounds in Your Sleep
Many weight loss plans insist you need to give up so much in order to achieve your goals. But what if gaining something was the real key to losing? If you believe Harvard scientists, adding more sleep might be a great way to help you improve fat loss.
According to the research — which reviewed more than 68,000 people — those who slept less than 5 hours per night weighed an average of 5 pounds more than those who slept more than 7 hours per night.
And that wasn’t the only difference. The participants were tracked over a 16-year period, and the researchers found that people sleeping five hours a night or less were 32 percent more likely to experience major weight gain (adding 33 pounds or more over the term) and were 15 percent more likely to become obese.
While it’s hard to qualify a “perfect” amount of sleep — and your body can handle some nights where you sleep less — it appears 6 hours is the minimum, and your best approach is to aim for about 7.5 and 8.5 hours of sleep per night.
Do Spotters Make You Stronger?
Whether or not you like training alone, asking for a spotter is a good safety measure. And it might be an underrated way to help guarantee a better workout
Research suggests having a spotter can help maximize your strength.
In one study, participants completed two different workouts. During one session, they could see they had a spotter, and in the other, there was an opaque barrier, and they could not tell someone was there.
The participants who had the spotter completed, on average, had 1.5 more reps than those without a spotter. But that wasn’t the only benefit. Those with spotters perceived their workouts as less challenging (meaning they felt they could’ve pushed even harder), even though they were working at near-maximum strength.
And it might not even be the sense of safety that supersizes your strength. In other research, the mere presence of other people watching you lift was shown to increase PR weights on the bench press and leg press.
If you work out at home, do your best to create safety precautions to help you push harder, or ask someone in your house (preferably not little kids) to give you a hand on your heaviest sets. And if you train in the gym but without a training partner, make a new friend, ask for a spot, and let them help you celebrate your next PR.
From the Village: What Should I Optimize?
“Optimization” is a popular buzzword in biohacking communities that became part of the mainstream. The idea that you need to “perfect” every aspect of your biology oftentimes ignores how our bodies actually work. People spend a lot of time trying to eliminate all inflammation, but doing so could prevent you from bouncing back after workouts. That’s because an inflammatory response can help your body heal. All inflammation isn’t bad; it’s when your body is chronically inflamed that you start to have problems.
Too much wellness is spent obsessing about minor details that don’t matter all that much.
In reality, that anxiety outweighs any potential benefits of the new behavior you’re trying to add. That’s not to say some tweaks don’t help. Or that there’s no time or place for upgrades or experimentation. But trying to optimize everything or hack your health if your routine isn't set is like buying premium gas when you don’t even have an engine.
Instead of optimizing, focus on stabilizing the foundational habits of good health. These include:
Getting enough sleep (as you just saw, focus on ~7.5 hours per night, rarely less than 6)
Moving 3-5 times per week (any type of exercise)
Eating well 80 percent of the time (well = proteins, fiber, vegetables and fruits, and whole foods. It’s not about low-carb or low-fat, both can work)
Not stressing the other 20 percent of the time you don’t eat nutritious foods or miss a workout (do NOT beat yourself up and stay positive)
Connecting with friends and meeting new people.
If you consistently practice these behaviors, then you can focus on fine-tuning the smaller details. When you’re trying to build good habits, a little less optimization and a little more mastery will do wonders for your results and your mindset.
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