Have you ever wondered if stress affects weight loss or even how it does it?
To understand this, we must look at stress as a whole and what causes it.
Stress is the bodies natural physical response to the bodies feeling of threat or danger, your bodies defenses kick in automatically, also known as the ‘flight or fight’ response mechanism.
This is your bodies way of protecting you in any dangerous situation, when working properly, you stay alert, focused and energized, in an emergency situation this response could save your life. All of a sudden you have strength and determination you never knew existed.
The response can also work in other ways like a presentation at work, even giving you the determination to leave the couch to goto work if you would rather be doing something else.
There is a point where too much stress can be detrimental to our health, lives and relationships.
Chemical responses in the body created by stress can cause major problems when losing weight. If you can develop a better understanding of how stress affects the body and working on reducing the amount of stress, this can seriously help achieving your weight loss goals.
When you get stressed your body releases a load of stress hormones which also have adrenaline and cortisol in them. Your heart will beat faster, your muscles will go tighter, blood pressure will rise, senses sharpen up and breathing becomes heavier. It’s these stress based changes that will make your strength, speed, stamina and focus increase to help with the ‘flight or fight’ response.
Your adrenaline glands do not understand the kind of stress that your body is under, it can’t tell the difference between physical and psychological stress, it might be something as daft as an argument or traffic jam, it does not matter, your body will react just as if it were facing life or death, if you have a stressfull lifestyle, your stress responses will be on most of the time. Other stresses such as pollution, drugs, environment etc. can also trigger this response, nutritional deficiencies and a high refined sugar diet also keep your body stressed.
Long term all this stress can lead to more serious health problems such as high blood pressure, faster aging , increased heart attack risk and of course weight gain, especially around the lower tummy area.
With constant stress and the release of cortisol in your body, this can cause problems losing weight for a number of reasons:
Metabolism – A lot of cortisol can slow the metabolism down causing weight gain making dieting difficult, dieting can also negatively affect your metabolism too, so a healthy balanced lifestyle is the real solution to all this.
Cravings – When you are stressed out most people will choose a chocolate bar or ice cream, anything really high in sugar as you tend to crave more sugar when stressed, eating these bad foods will be very detrimental to your weight loss.
Fat Storage – Being stressed causes you to store more fat, higher stress levels have been linked to the storage of abdominal fat, this has been linked to heart disease so excessive blubber around the middle is something we are best avoiding.
Blood Sugar – Being stressed over a long period of time can alter blood sugar levels causing mood swings and fatigue, it can also lead to more serious things like diabetes and heart problems.
It is best to learn the signs of stress or the signs of when stress levels are getting out of control. It is very surprising how quickly the stress can creep up on you.
You can get used to it, soon the stressed you will start to seem normal and you don’t notice it affecting you even as it gets worse.
Stress affects your body, mind and the way you behave, stress affects everyone differently, and it’s not always negative stresses that create it, it can also be a positive event like getting married or buying a house. Something you find stressful may not be to somebody else, I have made a list below outlining some of the causes of stress, the more signs/symptoms you have the closer you could be to overload.
Cognitive Symptoms – Memory problems, unable to concentrate, poor judgment, seeing only the bad points, constant worry and anxious thoughts.
Emotional Symptoms – Moodiness, short tempered, inability to relax/agitated, feeling of being overwhelmed, sense of loneliness and depression.
Physical Symptoms – Aches and pains, diarrhea or constipation, nausea/itchiness. chest pain or rapid heart beat, lack of sex drive and frequent colds and rundown feeling.
Behavioral Symptoms – Eating more or less, sleeping too much or not enough, isolating yourself from others, procrastination or rejecting responsibilities, using alcohol, drugs or cigarettes to relax and nervous habits i.e. biting nails or pacing up and down the room etc.
N.B. if you are expriencing any symptoms above relating to psychical or psychological then you should consult your doctor for a full diagnosis to check for stress.
There are a few methods you can use to get back in control of your stress now even if the stress is only small, this will stop it getting out of hand:
Exercise – Exercising releases endorphins which naturally fights stress and can also help lower cortisol levels, they will also help you sleep better and reduce the risk of depression lowering cortisol release.
Lifestyle – Identify things that trigger stress and make some changes, it might be a new job, less hours, more R And R, better diet and exercise or even just a vacation, once you have figured out the causes of stress it is easy to rectify the situation.
Meditation – Take 5 – 10 mins a day out to meditate and perform some deep breathing to help relax your mind.
Be Aware Of Food You Are Consuming – Focus on good nutrients for your body, reduce sugar and caffeine intake as well.
Get Help – If it is all getting too much for you then speak to a friend, relative or even a professional to vent, this can be massively healing to your stress levels to offload once in a while.
I hope this guide on how stress affects your weight loss has been helpful and believe you can use this going forwards.
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