For a lot of us, stress is a way of life, but stress unfortunately adds fat to your body. Pamela Peeke, MD, author of Body for Life for Women said, “Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight—or even add pounds.“
Your body responds to stress by forcing you to add more to your plate! Every time you have a stressful day, your brain tells your cells to release potent hormones, what happens next s that you experience a burst of adrenaline. Apart from that it also releases a surge of cortisol – telling your body to replenish the adrenaline energy even if you haven’t used it to its full extent. This can make you very, very hungry. The worst part it that until you don’t eat and as long as the stress continues, your body will keep on pumping cortisol.
A researcher on stress eating at the University of California, San Francisco called Elissa Epel, PhD, explains that, “Instead, we crave sweet, salty, and high-fat foods because they stimulate the brain to release pleasure chemicals that reduce tension.” This process becomes so addictive that every time you’re anxious the only thing that can calm you down is sugar rush. The release of cortison eventually slows down testosterone which then causes you to burn fewer calories. The worst part is that cortisol encourages your body to store fat, especially visceral fat which is particularly dangerous because all it does is surround your organs, releases fatty acids, raises cholesterol and insulin levels causing heart diseases and diabetes.
4 Steps To Beat Stress
Do Some Exercise
The best way to get rid of stress is to exercise. According to the author The Cortisol Connection, Shawn Talbott, PhD, “Moving your muscles is an effective, instant stress reliever. It actually fools your body into thinking you’re escaping the source of your stress. Exercise makes your blood circulate more quickly, transporting the cortisol to your kidneys and flushing it out of your system.” He also mentioned that just by walking for 18 minutes 3 times a week can quickly lower hormone levels by 15%!
Slow Down At Meal Times
When you’re under stress, instead of grabbing food that will give you a sugar rush, why not grab carrot sticks instead?! Apart from that, usually people under stress eat fast and hardly pay attention to the feelings of fullness or satisfaction. Therefore it’s important that slow down, savor each bite and pay attention to feeling full because this will lower the cortisol levels and will also help you eat less food!
Stop Strict Diets
You might be surprised that constant dieting can raise cortisol levels to as much as 18%. Apart from that you will experience your blood sugar increasing and decreasing on a constant basis. Because of this you can become cranky and ravenous! In simple terms, when your brain is not given its usual sugar rush, self-control takes a nosedive and your willpower goes south.
Rest Until You Feel Energized
According to Shawn Talbott, PhD, “Your body perceives sleep deprivation as a major stressor.” The National Sleep Foundation recommends that an average person should have at least 7 – 9 hours of sleep. Less than that will lead to an increase in cortisol, appetite and weight gain. In one study recently carried out, people who lacked sleep experienced an increase for sweet and salty foods by 23%.
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