Is Stress Making You Fat And Preventing You From Losing Weight?

By admin / January 12, 2011
By: Jenna Beneck
Category: Stress Management

Can stress make you fat? Is there a link between stress and weight problems? Experts think that higher levels of Cortisol - a chemical in the body which is sometimes known as the "stress hormone" - may be responsible for additional fat around our middles and difficulties in losing weight. Read on to find out more about the implications of stress for our weight and how we can prevent our weight levels from being affected by stress.

It is quite possible that we tend to gain weight more easily when we are stressed, and the reasons for this may not be hormonal. Under the influence of stress, we tend to make bad decisions about what to eat, choosing quick and easy foods above those healthy foods that we know are good for us. This is because when we feel bad, we are more prone to comfort eating i.e. eating for emotional reasons rather than to satisfy genuine hunger. And it is usually sweet and stodgy junk foods that we crave, as these will give us a quick boost and make us feel better in the short-term. And that is a sure recipe for weight gain.

The other reason that we may put on weight, is that stress elevates our levels of the hormone Cortisol. This hormone plays an important part in regulating our energy and blood sugar levels as well as contributing to our healing and immune systems. When we experience stress, higher levels of Cortisol are secreted in the body, suppressing our appetite, and our digestive and immune systems. It places our body on "red alert" for quick mobilization in what has become known as the "fight or flight response".

In days of old, this response was necessary for hunting wild animals and quickly running away from danger. However, the stresses of today are often related to fearful thoughts rather than actual danger, and rarely require any associated physical activity such as fighting or fleeing. Despite this, the body still produces the same responses. And once the perceived danger is over, the Cortisol remains in our bodies to ensure we recover, in particular, increasing our appetite so that we can make up the calories that our body thinks it should have spent.

So it seems that not only does stress makes us hungrier, but it makes us more prone to filling up on those foods which are full of calories. Even if we do not gain weight, we shall probably find it difficult to lose. According to research, elevated Cortisol levels over time also encourage the body to store fat more efficiently, particularly around the abdominal area. It is also produces other unhealthy effects, among which are digestive problems and increased cholesterol levels, which can have implications for heart disease in those individuals who are overweight.

So, how can you prevent stress from making you fat or hindering your diet? Well, you could try one of the supplements that are available that claim to reduce Cortisol levels. And, if you know that you are prone to comfort eating, you can watch out for the tendency to eat more when stressed. A balanced diet and in particular, a lower intake of sugar is also recommended, which can only help you in your quest to keep your weight stable or to reduce it. However, by far the best and healthiest option is to manage your stress so that it does not affect the body. Stress is normally down to bad mental habits and these can be changed so that physical symptoms of stress, including weight gain, can be overcome.



For quick relief for sufferers of stress, check out these stress management strategies that can help you devise a plan to cope with and manage stress. Alternatively, for the easiest and most effective way to manage and relieve stress, learn how to calm stress with meditation.



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