Your Weight & CPAP Therapy: What You Need To Know

April 12, 2019

Your Weight & CPAP Therapy: What You Need To Know

If you’re on CPAP therapy, you may have heard (one time or another) from medical professionals or fellow CPAP users say "if you lose weight, you may not need your CPAP anymore" or "your CPAP will help you lose weight"...but is that true?

A quick Google search and you’ll see endless articles, studies and content claiming "CPAP can aid with weight loss" or "lose weight and ditch your CPAP " and even "CPAP causes weight gain". With so many mixed messages,  how do you decipher them? Keep reading as we dive into your weight and CPAP therapy and what the take-home message should be.

 

Can CPAP Therapy Help You Lose Weight?

We’ll try to keep it as simple as possible. Yes. The keyword here is help. The use of a CPAP machine alone will not produce direct or even significant weight-loss. If achieving a specific weight goal is important to you – getting quality sleep and compliance on Sleep Apnea therapy is one component and can help your weight loss journey.  

  • Research shows using CPAP helps regulate the body's production of appetite-influencing hormones ghrelin and leptin which can positively affect your waistline.
  • Experts emphasize sleeping 6-8 hours a night for regulating these hormones creating benefits for your weight loss goals.  
  • Another way CPAP can contribute to weight loss is through the overall benefits of controlling OSA. Naturally, when you get proper rest, you benefit by feeling an increase in energy, mood and mental state. This energy boost and decrease of lethargy allow you to participate in more physical activity (going for a walk, or play soccer), engage in more social activity (playing baseball with your kids) resulting in more calories burned which can aid in weight loss.

 

Can The Use Of CPAP Supplies Cause Weight Gain?

The short answer is also yes. Confusing right? There are journal studies out there to show OSA patients who are very compliant in using CPAP equipment may gain a modest amount of weight.  They concluded that OSA treatment with CPAP promotes a significant increase in BMI and weight. A couple of reasons why this may happen:

  • The treatment for Sleep Apnea may decrease the effort used for breathing during sleep thereby decreasing the amount of energy (calories) being burned while sleeping.
  • Changes in the quality of sleep and energy could also lead to changes in appetite and eating habits.

The use of CPAP supplies alone is not the answer to all your weight problems. CPAP therapy is (once again) a component that can improve one’s sleep quality and overall health but not without other key components.

So, what should you do?

 

Managing Your Weight During Sleep Apnea Treatment

Remember weight loss is a comprehensive activity and it takes a lot of factors to tip the scale. The take-home message? Use your CPAP equipment and work on the other key components to maintain a healthy weight.

  • Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep each night. Practice healthy sleep habits and aim to get the sleep your body needs for optimal function.
  • Participate in regular daily physical activity. Aim for 30-45 min of physical activity.  Take a walk after dinner or in bouts of 10 mins. Every bit of physical activity is welcomed and every bit you do adds up. Health Canada recommends at least 150 mins per week of physical activity for the maintenance of overall health.
  • Be mindful of your eating habits. Follow a sensible diet avoiding high sodium, trans and saturated fats, alcohol, refined sugar and other processed foods. The new Canada Food Guide has great tips and ideas on making better food choices and developing better eating habits.

Unfortunately, there is no one easy or correct answer. We are unique and complex human beings and endless factors contribute to our sleep quality and weight and require work in all areas. Make sure you get proper counselling and guidance through your health professionals to make sure you’re on the right track.





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