How Stress Can Torpedo Your Weight Loss Efforts
Cortisol – the stress hormone!
Cortisol is a steroid hormone, which is produced from cholesterol in the adrenal glands. It is usually released in response to circumstances such as waking up in the morning, exercising, and of course, severe stress. (1)
Cortisol also regulates how energy is used in the body, as well as the maintenance of blood pressure, and promotes the metabolism of carbohydrates and fat. When it is consistently elevated, can, therefore, have a major negative impact on weight, immune function, and chronic disease risk. (2)
Levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, rise during stressful times. Higher levels of cortisol lead to higher levels of insulin, and a drop in blood sugar. This, in turn, leads to a craving for sugary, fatty foods, which results in unhealthy eating, and eventual weight gain. (3)
Cortisol and comfort foods (4)
When we are feeling a lot of pressure, most of us become overeaters. When stressed, the body also releases chemicals in response to food that might have a short-term calming effect on the body.
So instead of grabbing a salad or an apple, you go for cookies, chocolate, and a burger. Fatty and sugary foods are usually the biggest culprits, because that is what most of us love to eat, and that’s why they are called comfort foods.
Shawn M. Talbot, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist, gives an interesting definition of stress:
“More stress = more cortisol = higher appetite for junk food = more weight gain.”
Tips to help ease your stress and keep your weight down (5)
When you are under stress healthy eating habits can be very difficult to maintain. Whether you are eating fast foods on the run as there seems no time to prepare a proper meal, or because you are eating for emotional needs, a stress-filled lifestyle is never healthy.
Here are some tips to help keep your stress levels in check:
- Get some regular exercise. It does not have to be a world-class workout, a brisk walk will do, as will a light gym-type workout.
- Eat slowly at mealtimes. Have smaller portions and concentrate on feelings of fullness, which may help lower cortisol levels.
- If high stress sometimes drives you uncontrollably in the direction of something sweet, fatty or salty, don’t despair. It is okay to give in occasionally in a small way before your cortisol response gets out of control, and you go from bad to worse.
- Although caffeine is regarded as one of the safer stimulants, and research has shown that a limited amount may help manage stress and avoid depression, too much can make you anxious, jittery and nervous. Stress and caffeine together can raise cortisol levels more than stress alone. A good option is to cut down on caffeine intake by gradually weaning yourself off caffeine-rich drinks.
- Eat a good breakfast every day, and stick to a healthy diet as much as possible. Nutrients are important as deficiencies in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium, are stressful to your body. These deficiencies lead to increased cortisol levels and food cravings.
- One of the most effective stress-reduction strategies is to get enough sleep. If you regularly do not get sufficient sleep or often have sleep pattern disturbances, the body perceives this as major stress. People who cannot sleep often get up in the middle of the night and look for comfort foods like ice cream and cookies. This is typical of a spike in cortisol and the resultant drop in blood sugar, which demands to be fixed!
- Mediate, read, listen to music, or do a few deep breathing exercises to help curb the comfort food impulses.
Total banishment of stress from our lives is not possible. We live in a world ravaged by stress and anxiety. Every new day brings its own selection of fresh stressors to harass and disturbs your daily equilibrium.
The efficiency of your stress-coping abilities is the key to how you will handle everyday stress, and avoid falling into the overeating trap of raised cortisol levels.
If your weight balloons alarmingly when you are seriously trying to shed weight, stress could be one of the problems. (6)
The risks of obesity such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke and cardiovascular disease are well-documented, and the health problems can affect obese children and teens. The danger of this that an overweight child often becomes an obese adult, and so the circle of obesity is perpetuated. (7)
Are you looking for a healthy way to lose weight?
Losing weight is a process, not an all-out sprint to the finish line. It is a one step, one day at a time journey. The first port of call is obviously to deal with your stress levels, as that will be a major part of the battle won.
A recommended healthy way to burn off fat, get control of your appetite, and reduce stress and emotional food cravings, is via the Clean Start Weight Loss Program. This is a medically designed and supervised program to eliminate stubborn fat deposits, especially around the abdomen, thighs, hips, neck, and face.
The Clean Start Weight Loss Program has successfully helped countless folk decrease their appetite, create a new normal weight, and reset metabolism to an optimum level of efficiency.
This excellent weight loss program will help you realize your weight loss goals through fat-burning and healthy eating, and restore your health and equilibrium.
For more information, and to see if you are a candidate for the Clean Start Weight Loss Program, visit www.renewmetoday.com to take the Weight Loss Survey.