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Ask the Personal Trainer: Does Sleeping After Eating Hinder Weight Loss?

Q: Is it good or bad to sleep after lunch and does it interfere in my weight loss? Would it be better if I didn't sleep?
A: This is a great question and one that stirs up plenty of debate in fitness centers across the country. Some people say our bodies shut down when we sleep and all food in our stomach automatically turns into fat. Thankfully, it's not quite this simple.
First, in the big weight loss equation of "calories in versus calories out," you should lose weight as long as you're burning more calories than you eat – no matter when you sleep.
Second, you must separate cause and effect from coincidence. If you get into the habit of sleeping after eating, then this crowds exercise out of the picture and makes it easier to "fall off the activity wagon." Less exercise means less justification of those calories and, consequently, a larger waistline.
Lastly, I am a big proponent of the behavioral aspect of exercise. I suggest doing at least a little exercise after a meal, not because I think it'll necessarily make you fit, but primarily to reinforce the habit of physical activity. When in doubt, remember that a little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing!

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