Holistic medicine

Lose weight in your sleep

Lean in your sleep - is that possible?

Get lean in your sleep - an offer couldn't be more tempting. Just lying down, resting and losing a few pounds would be the dream diet for anyone trying to reduce their weight. But if you think now that you can eat what you want while losing weight, you are wrong. Because this weight loss strategy also follows certain guidelines that must be observed so that it can work out to slim down. Everything worth knowing and useful tips on the topic can be found here.

Slim in your sleep - the diet concept

Losing weight while you sleep is a diet concept that was developed in the mid-1990s by the internist and nutritionist Dr. Detlef Pape was developed. Together with the sports medic Elmar Trunz-Carlisi, the occupational physician Rudolf Schwarz and the authorized representative of Stadtwerke Köln GmbH Helmut Gillessen, Pape carried out a project in which the employees of Stadtwerke Köln were to eat healthier while observing certain dietary guidelines. The project was very successful and the participants lost an average of 11.5 kilograms of body weight after only five months of diet. Reason enough for other people interested in diet to emulate this concept. In fact, not such a bad idea, because behind the slim-in-sleep diet is a medically based strategy.

Everything a question of time

The concept for Pape’s “Lose Weight While Sleeping” is based on the presumption of the medical professional that there is a connection between a person's biorhythm, the nutrient composition of his food and the time at which the food is taken in. In particular, the interplay between weight gain and insulin levels plays a key role here, according to Pape.

Insulin (Insulinum) is a hormone that is formed in the pancreas and is known to be responsible for the sugar utilization in the body. In detail, insulin enables the sugar molecules in the blood to migrate into the body's cells. As a result, the sugar acts here as an energy donor for cell-internal processes. The hormone also affects the body's fat and protein balance. A high level of insulin inhibits fat burning and consequently promotes fat storage in the body tissue. An effect that is less desirable when losing weight. For this reason, Pape has established the insulin diet, which is designed to keep the body's insulin secretion as low as possible by means of targeted food selection and thus boosts fat burning.

Of sugars and fats

One might think that Pape’s strategy is to minimize the intake of food that promotes the release of insulin. This happens mainly through carbohydrates (saccharides), better known as sugar. However, when losing weight, pape relies less on not consuming carbohydrates and more on a certain timing when consuming carbohydrate-rich food. Which is not so wrong, because although our body could theoretically do without sugar, everyday performance demands make it completely difficult to completely do without carbohydrates in practice.

The reason: In comparison to vitamins, which also serve the body as energy suppliers, but first have to go through a certain period of metabolism utilization, sugar provides its energy very quickly for the organism. This is particularly important during those daily rush hours when the body goes through major phases of motivation. Fortunately, the sugar is also broken down relatively quickly during said rush hours, which means that an increased storage of carbohydrates can be prevented naturally.

At rest, however, an additional sugar intake is not very beneficial. This applies above all to the nightly sleep phase, in which the so-called regeneration metabolism is active. This is primarily responsible for the repair and regeneration of everyday cell damage. In addition, the regenerative part of the metabolism detoxifies the cells during sleep by removing stored metabolic products that have accumulated in the cell tissue throughout the day. Body fat in particular serves as a source of energy for the regeneration metabolism. A fact that can actually be used for fat burning in diets if you specifically avoid an energy supply through carbohydrates before sleeping. This otherwise hinders the natural fat burning of the metabolism for nightly regeneration and thus also makes losing weight more difficult.

This metabolic mechanism was of course known to the nutritionist Pape. In his slim-in-sleep project, he therefore began to orientate himself on the biorhythm of the body and to conceive the nutritional intake during slimming during sleep in such a way that the consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods is ideally matched to the daily performance rhythm of the body.

Sugar is not the same as sugar

Losing weight while sleeping is not about completely omitting carbohydrates, but timing the carbohydrate intake so that it does not interfere with the nightly regeneration metabolism. In addition, when choosing food, attention is also paid to the type of carbohydrates. There are four different variants:

  • Simple sugar (monosaccharides) - Simple carbohydrates are those carbohydrates that consist of only one sugar molecule. These include, above all, fruit sugar (fructose), mucus sugar (galactose), glucose (glucose). Thanks to their name, many simple sugars can already be recognized as an important nutrient for fruit varieties. Dextrose has long been hailed as a particularly efficient source of energy. D-glucose, also known as dextrose, is the eponymous ingredient in the Dextro Energy product range, which produces a whole range of energy-giving foods from glucose, from sports drinks to lozenges and chocolate.
  • Double sugar (disaccharides) - Disaccharides consist of two sugar molecules and thus of two single sugars. The best-known double sugars include malt sugar (maltose), milk sugar (lactose) and cane or beet sugar (sucrose). Cane and malt sugar are the classic sugar variants for the production of sweeteners in the food industry. Lactose, on the other hand, is found primarily in milk and milk products. The actual milk sugar content fluctuates greatly depending on the product and type of milk. Goat and cow's milk, for example, only have between 4.3 and 4.6% lactose, while camel milk has 5% and donkey milk even more than 7% carbohydrates. Dairy products such as yoghurt or sour cream are also significantly reduced in carbohydrates with about 3% lactose compared to pure milk.
  • Multiple sugar (oligosaccharides) - A special form of carbohydrates, which is made up of three to ten simple sugars. Depending on the exact number, a further distinction is made between triple sugar (trisaccharides, e.g. raffinose), quadruple sugar (tetrasaccharides, e.g. stachyose), quintuple sugar (pentasaccharides, e.g. verbascose), etc. In contrast to single and double sugars, oligosaccharides do not taste sweet, but have one rather mealy note. Multiple sugars such as raffinose are also mainly found in cereals and vegetables such as legumes or squashes, where they often take on the transport function of multiple and multiple sugars.
  • Multiple sugar (polysaccharides) - If a carbohydrate consists of at least eleven single sugars, one speaks of a multiple sugar. Vegetable starch (amylose), animal starch (glycogen), pectin substances (pectin), enveloping substances (chitin) and cellulose substances (cellulose) are known here in particular. Like multiple sugars, multiple sugars have a more floury, sometimes even chalky taste. In addition, they are also rarely found in fruits and sweet-tasting plants, but rather in vegetables, cereals and even in animal foods. For example, starch and pectin are found primarily in potatoes, nuts, legumes such as beans or peas, and in whole grain cereals. Starch in the form of glycogen is also found in animal products such as animal liver. Chitin, on the other hand, is known to most as part of the shell of marine animals (e.g. mussels, crabs or fish scales). However, this carbohydrate is also found in mushrooms.

Be careful when choosing carbohydrates!

Natural polysaccharides in particular are extremely rich in fiber. Some of them, such as cellulose, serve the organism exclusively as dietary fiber, because the body cannot break them down due to their special molecular structure and therefore excretes them unused. It is therefore not surprising that multiple sugars are considered to be particularly healthy and should therefore be preferred when losing weight while sleeping. In general, the health value of carbohydrates plays an important role in the slim-in-sleep philosophy. A distinction must be made between healthy and unhealthy carbohydrates.

In this regard, healthy carbohydrates are described as carbohydrates that are natural, i.e. unprocessed, that occur in natural foods. They have not been artificially refined and can therefore also be described as full or complex carbohydrates. Their advantage lies in the fact that they contain a high amount of fiber, for which the body has to go through a breakdown process to separate them from the usable portion of sugar molecules. This in turn stimulates metabolic activity and also ensures that the blood sugar level is not over-balanced because the split components can be used easily and quickly.

The situation is different with refined sugars. The term describes all those carbohydrates that have undergone a refining process in food production. This is especially true for double sugars like sucrose, which are commonly used to make white refined sugar. Refining ensures that certain sugar molecules are artificially separated from carbohydrate fibers, which results in isolated or unhealthy carbohydrates. Since they no longer have to be broken down by the body, these sugar variants not only result in a poor metabolic rate in the long term, but also an increased storage of excessive amounts of sugar in the blood. As a result, the blood sugar level rises sharply after eating refined sugar, which means not only an increased release of insulin and thus a poorer fat metabolism. Likewise, the risk of developing diabetes mellitus increases significantly through the permanent consumption of unhealthy carbohydrates.

Interesting facts: According to a study by the Department of Food Science and Technology at Yeungnam University in Korea, the consumption of refined sugar has completely different health effects. Apparently, said sugar variants not only have less fiber, but also fewer antioxidants than their natural counterparts. This is particularly harmful to the heart and blood vessels, which is why refined sugar increases not only diabetes but also the risk of heart and vascular diseases.

Diet plan for losing weight while sleeping

It can be seen that the food intake when losing weight while sleeping is anything but a matter of interpretation. The diet plan for this diet follows, at least when it comes to the composition of the food, clear guidelines for the consumption of carbohydrates. Basically, according to Pape's “slim-in-sleep” concept, three meals are to be consumed at a minimum interval of five hours. Below is a brief overview of the most important basic rules for losing weight while sleeping:

  • Morning: carbohydrates - In the morning our body needs a lot of energy quickly to cope with the demands of the day at work, in leisure time and in private life. In addition, it is still a long time until the next sleep phase, which is why the metabolism has enough time to balance the morning carbohydrate intake during the day. The morning meal can therefore consist of foods rich in carbohydrates. With regard to healthy and unhealthy carbohydrates, foods that contain natural complex sugar (e.g. fruits, whole grain bread or muesli) are clearly preferable to refined sugar additives.
    Tip: Dairy products should also be consumed with caution in the morning because they contain lactose and protein, which according to Dr. Pape is on the diet only for lunch.
  • Midday: carbohydrates and proteins - The midday meal can consist of balanced mixed foods when you lose weight while sleeping. The carbohydrate intake is now to be screwed down somewhat and balanced with an adequate protein intake. Now milk and milk products such as cheese, yoghurt, but also meat, fish, eggs and other protein-containing foods are allowed. Pape's project at Stadtwerke Köln was based on food that was usually offered in the company's canteen or canteen. He made no great demands on the choice of food, but did not fail to mention that in the sense of a negative calorie balance, the fat content of the lunch should not be too extensive.
    Tip: Vegetables such as beans and potatoes, as well as some types of cereals and nuts, contain both carbohydrates and proteins and also provide valuable vitamins and minerals. When you lose weight in your sleep, you are therefore made for a delicious lunch.
  • Evening: Proteins - The most important aspect of the Pape diet concept is the absence of carbohydrate-rich foods in the evening. This is intended to stimulate the targeted generation of energy for the regeneration metabolism from stored body fat and detoxification and thus to support weight loss during sleep. The goal of the protein meal is therefore to consciously keep the insulin release low by not using carbohydrates so that the fat burning can work optimally. Instead of energy-supplying carbohydrates, there is therefore a protein-rich meal in the evening, consisting of foods such as fish, meat, eggs or milk products.
    Tip: Even at dinner, the selected foods should not be excessively fat in order not to impair the nightly fat loss. For this reason, lean types of fish and meat such as salmon, tuna, turkey or poultry are recommended.
  • In between: Drink a lot - Between meals, the "Lose weight while sleeping" concept only allows drinks. And here, too, you should pay attention to the nutritional plan of the slim-in-sleep diet. Because carbohydrates should not appear in the drinks, which means that fruit juices, lemonades and soft drinks are generally taboo for in between. Only water, unsweetened teas and coffee without milk and sugar are therefore suitable for pape.

Lean-in-sleep - more than just a diet

Pape himself recommends not only using his diet concept for a short period of time, but also as a long-term change in diet. And even according to the consumer advice center, this is at least not advisable, since the concept is based on a balanced combination of nutrients despite the separation of proteins and carbohydrates. There is no risk of malnutrition through a permanent diet after the insulin diet. On the contrary, those who eat according to the concept are sensitized to their own biorhythm and to the metabolic processes of their own body, which is more than conducive to a healthy diet. We can therefore make a recommendation with a clear conscience and suggest losing weight while sleeping not just as a diet, but as an independent nutritional concept.


Despite the positive health aspects of Pape’s slim-in-sleep strategy, there are also reasons that speak against a diet. Diabetics in particular are advised against this nutritional measure with a view to their insulin disorder due to illness. People with existing kidney disease should also consult their doctor in detail before starting this diet and, if necessary, seek medical monitoring of their health for the duration of the diet. For both diabetes and renal insufficiency, the deliberately low insulin release of the slim-in-sleep diet, as well as its high protein intake at lunchtime and in the evening, can lead to health problems.

Five tips for diet success

Even if the concept itself is extremely promising, as with any diet, there are a few stumbling blocks when losing weight during sleep that can make the diet success fail. The reason for this is usually non-compliance with the nutritional guidelines. There are a few simple guidelines for some of the most common causes:

  1. Counting calories: The Pape diet concept also builds on a calorie deficit, which is a prerequisite for losing weight at all. Anyone who breaks the guidelines of the concept down to the point that they do not eat carbohydrates in the evening, but otherwise struggles without a measure during the day, will inevitably fail because they simply consume too many calories. It is therefore important to pay attention to the calorie count of the selected foods in addition to the insulin diet. Apps for cell phones now offer very extensive options.
  2. Careful selection of food: Speaking of selection - the right choice of food is advisable, even if you simply lose weight, when you are slimming. Interestingly, this works very well, especially on ceremonial occasions. Where many people find a lavish buffet a problem when it comes to losing weight, the dietitian recognizes a wide range of options for pulling through his nutritional concept and can sometimes even get inspiration for new recipes. Even in the supermarket, people who want to slim down in their sleep should take their time rather than hurry through the rows of shelves to resist temptation. An attentive eye will find interesting offers between all the temptations, which can wonderfully support weight loss while sleeping and are also very tasty at the same time.
  3. Avoiding food cravings: A five-hour break between meals and a calorie deficit between meals also carries the risk of food cravings. Especially when unhealthy, i.e. refined carbohydrates are consumed at breakfast or lunch, this leads to extreme fluctuations in the blood sugar level, which are often expressed in cravings when the blood sugar drops again and sharply. Whoever gives in to these attacks will of course also endanger his diet success. At least with a view to unhealthy carbohydrates, this can be prevented by choosing a suitable sugar. It is therefore better to resort to complex and natural sugars.
  4. Resist food cravings: Despite a good avoidance strategy, food cravings will never be completely stopped. This is completely natural, but can be mitigated by taking the right measures. For example, behind numerous cravings there is often only an increased feeling of thirst. For this reason, at the first sign of cravings, those affected should simply drink a large glass of water and see what happens. If hunger or appetite is still there, you can bridge the time until the next meal with the following measures:
    • Snacking on almonds: almonds contain a lot of fat, but healthy fat. In detail, they are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are known to positively support the metabolism and even to help you lose weight. Slowly chewed, almonds also let the feeling of hunger fade into the background for a while.
    • Vegetables instead of chips: Just prepare a few vegetable sticks for the next couch evening in front of the television as a snack alternative to potato chips. As is known, these contain some potato starch and are therefore more than unsuitable for an evening snack. In the meantime, there are also delicious vegetable chips on the market that rely on low-carb vegetables instead of potatoes. However, we advise you to pay close attention to the additives in the products and, if in doubt, to produce the veggie chips yourself. To do this, slice the cleaned vegetables into thin slices and then place them on a baking sheet. Now the vegetable slices are coated with a little vegetable oil and sprinkled with a little salt and herbs (e.g. thyme, rosemary, pepper or paprika) before they come into the oven at approx. 150 ° C for 40 to 50 minutes. During the baking time, make sure to vent the steam every now and then, so that the vegetable chips also become crispy and crispy. Beet vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, radishes or beetroot and cabbage vegetables such as savoy cabbage or kale are particularly suitable for this recipe.
    • Chewing instead of snacking: chewing gum can also often help with the burgeoning cravings. Chewing gum not only burns some calories, but also transmits positive signals to the satiety center in the brain, which reduce the feeling of hunger again.
  5. Include the environment: Work colleagues, family members and friends should be informed about your diet plan. On the one hand, this creates a certain pressure to succeed, so that the diet is not thrown overboard again after three days. On the other hand, you also get motivators on board who can actively support you with good encouragement and maybe even one or the other recipe idea.

Diet conclusion

Many supporters of this diet or form of nutrition, who report very considerable weight loss, prove that the slim-in-sleep concept actually works. However, it must be said that the diet may not be suitable for everyone. On the one hand, putting together breakfast without milk and milk products is a very tricky business and certainly not for everyone, because you have to like recipes like muesli without milk and yoghurt. On the other hand, the strict ban on fruit in the evening and the strictly regulated five-hour meal break between meals are another challenge for many who struggle with such tough requirements.

Be that as it may, losing weight while sleeping is anything but a dizziness, but a well-thought-out concept that, like any diet, follows certain guidelines. Basically, it is even an independent nutritional philosophy, which should awaken the sensitivity of the participant for the personal nutritional composition as well as the biorhythm and metabolic mechanism of the own body. The concept also promotes a more critical stance on artificial industrial sugar from the refinery and products that use appropriate sugar variants as an ingredient. A very desirable side effect when you consider that refined sugar is considered a major cause of the epidemic of excess weight. All in all, it can be said that Pape meant very well with his weight loss while sleeping and that the concept behind it is at least in theory very plausible. However, the practical implementation of the diet guidelines is not always suitable for everyday use. (ma)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Miriam Adam, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Pape, Detlev et al .: Lean in your sleep: the basic book. The revolutionary formula: How to use your bio watch to lose weight, Grafe and Unzer, 2014
  • Trunz-Carlisi, Elmar; Pape, Detlef; Schwarz, Rudolf; Gillessen, Helmut: Lean in your sleep: the fitness turbo, Graefe and Unzer, 2009
  • Lee, Jong Suk et al .: "Comparative study of the physicochemical, nutritional, and antioxidant properties of some commercial refined and non-centrifugal sugars", in: Food Research International, Volume 109, 2018, sciencedirect.com

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