THE BLOG
09/25/2014 10:33 am ET Updated Nov 25, 2014

Ask JJ: What Does Sleep Have to Do With Weight?

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As a nutrition and fitness expert for nearly three decades, I've helped thousands of people attain fast, lasting fat loss. I've worked with high-performance athletes, CEOs and A-list celebrities all over the world. I blog on The Huffington Post and other highly-respected outlets, and I regularly appear on TV and other media.

In the beginning, I worked as a personal trainer. Despite following the rules, many of my clients couldn't ditch that stubborn weight. I knew these people weren't cheating, so I began to wonder why those rules weren't working.

I began taking graduate and doctoral courses (40 to date!), talking to the world's leading experts and learning everything possible to understand why the eat-less-exercise-more paradigm doesn't work. Along the way, I became a certified nutrition specialist with the American College of Nutrition and a certified health and fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Nutrition. I also coined the phrase weight loss resistance to describe people who, despite eating cleanly and exercising smartly, can't consistently lose two to three pounds every week.

Numerous obstacles create weight loss resistance, and I discuss seven often-overlooked ones in this blog. Food intolerances are a big one. Years of testing and working with doctors helped me narrow those down to seven highly-reactive foods, which became the basis for my New York Times bestseller The Virgin Diet.

Hidden sugar can also create weight loss resistance. You know a piece of chocolate cake won't do your waistline any favors, but you might be surprised where sneaky sugars lurk that can jeopardize your success.

As you know, going cold turkey to eliminate these hidden sugars doesn't work. That's why I created a cutting-edge plan to gradually taper off sugar that I'll share in my upcoming book The Sugar Impact Diet.

Sleep and Fast, Lasting Fat Loss

What does sleep have to do with addressing food intolerances and gradually transitioning from a fat burner to sugar burner? Everything. Studies show when even when you eat a clean diet and exercise intelligently, sleep loss could sabotage your best efforts.

With even one night's terrible sleep, you knock numerous fat-burning hormones out of whack. One study found even a partial night's poor sleep could trigger insulin resistance, paving the way for obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Those hormonal imbalances become all too apparent after a terrible night's sleep. You need a coffee IV to function, you're more likely to blow off your workout, and those hot glazed donuts your coworker brought in become impossible to resist. You're less stress-resistant and not very pleasant to be around.

So you get it: A great night's sleep becomes that important for fat loss and optimal health.

One simple needle mover I find helps involves preparing for 7 - 9 hours of high quality, uninterrupted sleep every night. About an hour before bed, turn off electronics (yes, even your iPhone and TV) and unwind with a hot bath, chamomile tea, and maybe a good but not great novel.

I'm excited to support your journey overcoming weight loss resistance and creating fast, lasting fat loss and optimal health. Every week I'll pick one of your questions and provide simple, easy-to-implement strategies that help you become lean, healthy, and loving life. I look forward to reading your questions.

Have a question for JJ? Email AskJJ@jjvirgin.com