'The Overnight Diet': New Weight Loss Plan Touts Sleep, Fasting

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Weight loss while you sleep sounds too good to be true. But a buzzed-about new diet, "The Overnight Diet," claims to help you lose two pounds as you sleep during the first day of the diet. To be sure, getting a full night's rest is good advice for everyone, but how could it result in immediate weight loss?

Research shows that losing sleep can lead to weight gain, but there isn't really a relationship between sufficient sleep (defined as 7.5 to 9.5 hours) and weight loss. The Overnight Diet, however, is not the first to make this logical leap.

As sleep expert and HuffPost Healthy Living blogger Michael Breus, Ph.D. told WebMD in response to another sleep-touting diet: “It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly.”

It's true that a deficit of sleep can lead to increased feelings of hunger and overeating as a result, so in that sense, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule does help support a healthy diet.

Indeed, the diet's creator, Caroline Apovian, M.D., the director of nutrition and weight management at Boston Medical Center points to this very advantage:

“That first night, you go to sleep, you sleep your eight hours, you are down two pounds,” she explained to ABC News. “If you continue to get enough sleep every night, you won’t get those hunger pangs. The hunger pangs come from lack of sleep, which induces the hunger hormone to get secreted from your gut.”

Those two pounds she promises, however, will be lost water weight rather than fat. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- as we've previously reported, water weight loss is an important step toward total weight loss -- but it does make the "overnight" promise less meaningful.

The diet boasts a once-weekly fast, during which adherents eat homemade, protein-rich smoothies, followed by six days of a low-calorie, protein rich diet. Calorie restriction and intermittent fasting are both proven fat loss techniques and so it's possible that these two aspects of the diet are responsible for some of the results described in the book.

"I keep waiting for us to get tired of going after the new fad diet. But our appetite for these things is insatiable in the culture," David L. Katz M.D., MPH, FACPM, FACP and director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center told HuffPost Healthy Living. "The reason this can work in the short term is that it imposes rules. If you go from undisciplined eating, to any diet no matter what the rules are, chances are you'll lose some weight. But it's not a realistic way to live."

Tell us in the comments: Would you try this diet? Do you believe you could lose weight overnight?

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