Are you finding it difficult to lose weight? Or may you have lost some weight but still find you have fat around your mid-section. Do you feel you’re gaining more pounds and that weight seems to have crept on gradually over the years? If this all sounds familiar to you – then have you stopped to think that stress maybe making you fat and the weight gain is connected to your stressful lifestyle!
Stress is a way of life in the 21st century. It is extremely difficult to have a completely stress free lifestyle. But for some people the effects of stress go beyond feelings of anxiety and discomfort. The stress can leave them feeling emotional and also affect their appetite and leave them feeling ravenously hungry. This then can lead to weight gain which can further lead to more stress. Therefore, it is essential to be able to manage stress for overall health and wellbeing.
There are several ways in which a stress full lifestyle can lead to weight gain.
When we become stressed our bodies switch into ‘fight or flight’ response. When this occurs our bodies are triggered to release various hormones, so regardless of the particular stress – such as a demanding job or if we are in danger our bodies’ respond like we are about to be harmed. So to either fight for our lives or run (flight) to safety.
So the body releases a burst of energy a change in metabolism and blood flow and various other changes. Our neuroendocrine system still activates a series of hormones whenever we feel threatened such as Adrenaline and cortisol. Chronic stress and cortisol can contribute to weight gain.
If you remain in a stress state for a prolonged amount of time stress can affect your health and put you at risk. Apart from the host of dangers acute / chronic stress can lead to weight gain. Often, eating becomes the activity that relieves the stress – and this in turn can lead to an increase in body weight.
Chronic stress and cortisol can contribute to weight gain in the following ways:
An increase in cortisol can slow your metabolism, causing more weight gain than you would normally experience.
People experiencing chronic stress tend to crave more fatty, salty and sugary foods. Excessive stress can even affect our mid sections and lead to greater levels of abdominal fat.
Emotional Eating – The Increased levels of cortisol can not only make you crave unhealthy food, but excess nervous energy can often cause you to eat more than you normally would.
The good news is that there are things you can do to reverse the pattern of weight gain and reduce your stress level and waistline at the same time. Some of these include:
Exercise is a great stress buster and has many health benefits. Not only will you burn calories you will also feel happier.
Eat a balanced diet
Make it a habit of eating breakfast and do ot skip meals. Eat regularly and often this helps keep blood sugar levels steady – which helps to control appetite and weight.
Get adequate sleep
Lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels. Which can affect our appetite lead to cravings and make us hungry and less satisfied with the food we do eat.
Avoid caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol
Studies show cigarettes, as well as caffeine-laden soft drinks, coffee, tea, and even chocolate, can cause cortisol levels to rise, stress to increase, blood sugar to drop and hunger to prevail. Too much alcohol, which can affect blood sugar and insulin levels.
Take your vitamins
A number of medical studies have shown that stress can deplete important nutrients such as the B complex and C vitamins, and sometimes the minerals calcium and magnesium. A high potency multi-vitamin supplement can insure you give your body what it needs to not only deal with the stress, but also burn fat and lose weight.
Try relaxation techniques to help deal with stress such as meditation, Yoga, massage, spa treatments etc.
Being active is a great way to reduce cortisol levels – at least 30 minutes a day of any kind of physical activity can help you beat the negative effects of cortisol.
If you find yourself chronically stressed out, the experts say, you should do what you can to decrease or manage your stress levels. The next step would be to follow a reduced-calorie, yet balanced, diet. This will combat weight gain and enable you to lose the extra pounds.
Wishing you a stress free day!