Does Stress Make You Gain Weight AND Stop You From Losing It? Part 1
For most of us, stress is a fact of life. Unfortunately, research reveals that it’s also a fact of fat. “Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight — or even add pounds.
So, Here’s what happens…
Your body responds to all stress in exactly the same way. So every time you have a stressful day, your brain instructs your cells to release potent hormones.
The problem is, your body still thinks that the stress you’re experiencing is a life threatening one, like trying to get away from a predator. So, You get a burst of adrenaline, which taps stored energy so you can either fight or run away.
At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven’t used very many calories AND THAT’S because MOST of the time, the stress we experience or put ourselves through nowadays isn’t the same as our evolutionary ancestors.
It’s stuff like work deadlines, meetings, presentations…you know, 21st century life. Nevertheless, this cortisol surge ALL the time makes you hungry…very hungry, and your body keeps on pumping out that cortisol as long as the stress continues.
But, few of us reach for carrots in these situations. Instead, we crave sweet, salty, and high-fat foods because they stimulate the brain to release pleasure chemicals that reduce tension. This soothing effect becomes addictive, so every time you’re anxious, you want the foods that slam on the weight.
Now, With your adrenal glands pumping out cortisol, production of the muscle-building hormone testosterone slows down. Over time, this drop causes a decrease in your muscle mass, so then you burn fewer calories over time. This occurs naturally as you age, but high cortisol levels accelerate the process.
Cortisol also encourages your body to store fat — especially visceral fat, which is particularly dangerous because it surrounds vital organs and releases fatty acids into your blood, raising cholesterol and insulin levels and paving the way for heart disease and diabetes.
So, let me summarise so far…
Our bodies still respond to stress in the same way it did way back when we were running away from or reacting to actual danger.
We experience or put ourselves through far more stress nowadays than our natural stress response was designed for.
Elevated stress ALL the time due to relationships, past events in our lives, work deadlines, work presentations, work targets, lack of sleep, traffic, kids…whatever, has a 5 fold negative effect on your ability to drop weight.
High cortisol prevents weight loss in 5 ways
FIRSTLY; ELEVATED cortisol (that you’re experiencing ALL the time) is saying…REPLACE CALORIES…This means you’re always hungry.
SECONDLY; You make poor food choices to replenish those calories.
THIRDLY; Cortisol is a fat storing hormone.
FOURTHLY; While cortisol levels are high, testosterone (and yes women DO have testosterone, just not as much as us guys) will drop meaning you’ll lose muscle mass and therefore your metabolism will slow down.
FIFTH; when cortisol levels are high, our body does not respond well to LEPTIN, the hormone that makes us feel full, so we eat more!
The adrenal glands are where cortisol is produced, specifically in the adrenal cortex.
When you’re constantly stressed, you have what is called and Adrenal imbalance, or adrenal fatigue, which causes a number of issues, including an expanded waistline.
Normally when we feel begin to feel hungry, our blood sugar drops and the brain sends a message to the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Cortisol activates glucose, fats, and amino acids to keep our body fueled with energy until we eat.
Cortisol maintains blood sugar levels, and insulin helps our cells absorb glucose. When we have longterm stress, both insulin and cortisol remain elevated in the blood, and the extra glucose is stored as fat–mostly in the abdomen.
So, what do most people do when they experience a plateau in their weight loss? Well, they either begin to do MORE exercise sessions, longer sessions or both AND probably further restrict their food…GUESS WHAT? All this does is make the situation WORSE! WHY? Because it’s MORE stress on the body which elevates cortisol further!
THIS is an ongoing cycle for many people out there and it’s the ONE thing that I have to deal with when people come to me to help them overcome their plateaus OR when they feel that they’ve tried everything, their trainer thinks they’re a lost cause because they’re constantly making the sessions tougher and tougher, and always looking through their food diary week after week and scratching their head.
I’ve had women and men come to me that are doing MOST things correctly AND STILL not managing to drop the weight. Well, until we correct this adrenal imbalance then it just ain’t gonna happen I’m afraid. So, it’s my aim over the next few articles to give you some solutions to overcoming this constant stress in your life and get you on the road to recovery and getting the body you want! So, are you with me? Will YOU commit to giving each step your maximum effort no matter what your beliefs are right now? GOOD, so I hope you’ve enjoyed part 1 in this series of TBT Daily.
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