The thought of losing weight while you sleep is appealing, and that's exactly the promise Dr. Caroline Apovian makes in her book, "The Overnight Diet." In this plan, during the week, you eat a high-protein diet for six days and on the seventh day, you devote your efforts to consuming a high-protein, liquid diet. If you combine this with at least eight hours of quality sleep per night, she claims you'll end up losing at least 2 pounds the first night and up to 9 pounds each week thereafter, providing that you stick with the plan. These weight-loss promises might sound unlikely, but Apovian's plan may help you drop pounds by adopting the healthier habits of prioritizing quality sleep and choosing healthier foods. Don’t expect miracles, however; weight loss stills takes effort.
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The Diet's Premise
Apovian's assertion that you need adequate sleep to lose weight is based on science. A review of studies published in a 2008 issue of "Obesity" showed that short sleep duration does seem to be associated with weight gain. She explains that lack of sleep causes you to feel more hunger; with adequate sleep, however, you don't get the cravings that derail a diet plan.
On the six days that you eat solid food, the focus is on high protein and on low-carbohydrate intake. On this "Six-Day Fuel Up," you are allowed to eat all the fruits and vegetables you desire. On the seventh day, called the "1-Day Power Up," you consume high-protein smoothies that feature fruits, vegetables and a whey and a casein protein powder blend that Apovian markets. This blend, she claims, helps you burn fat rather than muscle and provides you with adequate vitamins and minerals.
Apovian claims that dieters maintain their weight loss from her "Overnight Diet" better than from other diet plans. Instead of the 25 percent of people who keep weight off with a typical diet plan, 50 percent in her clinic do, she told ABC News in 2013.
Much of the weight lost on the diet plan -- especially initially -- is likely water, however. Losing 2 pounds of fat weight overnight is just about impossible. A pound is equal to 3,500 calories -- you'd have to burn 7,000 calories while you sleep to truly achieve this weight loss. Sleeping only burns about 19 to 28 calories per hour, depending on your size.
Why It Might Work Short Term
Paying close attention to what you eat often results in weight loss because you're trimming portion sizes and choosing healthier foods. In the case of the "Overnight Diet," an increase in fruit and vegetable intake crowds out the higher calorie snacks and meals that prevent weight loss. The diet uses common weight-loss strategies of calorie restriction and intermittent fasting, exhibited during the one-day smoothie "Power Up." These principles may be the reason the diet plan works initially.
Maintaining a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet for the long term is usually challenging. The plan also gives dieters an excuse not to exercise. Though Apovian encourages resistance training and moderate exercise to help promote muscle maintenance, she says it isn't necessary for weight loss.
Instead of jumping on a fad diet's bandwagon, consider adopting the strategies of moderating portion sizes, eating more fruits and vegetables and getting adequate sleep of seven to nine hours per night. Combine these with moderate exercise that includes strength training for a sound, fad-free weight-loss plan.