With all of the pressures of living in the fast-paced and high-tech world today, stress has become a major part of our daily lives.
For thousands of people, the effects of stress go well beyond feelings of anxiety and discomfort. For these individuals, stress can mean facing each day with extreme and nearly insatiable feelings of hunger, which then adds weight gain to their list of worries.
Stress and Weight Gain:
When your levels of stress are high and become prolonged, your adrenal glands begin to release a hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol levels should naturally be high in the morning when you wake up and then taper down as the day goes on so that you feel tired in the evening (when it’s time to go to sleep).
Recent studies indicate that stress not only increases your levels of cortisone, but cortisone also disrupts its natural rhythm.
This break in the natural cycle of cortisone can cause serious issues and wreak havoc on your body. Among other things, this can affect the following:
- Your blood sugar levels can increase
- Causes hunger and sugar cravings
- Reduces your body’s ability to burn fat
- Makes it more difficult for glucose to enter into your blood cells
- Causes hormonal imbalances by suppressing your HPA axis
- Increases the fat in your belly, otherwise known as visceral fat.
- Increases the rate in which body fat is stored
- Raises the level of triglycerides and fatty acid in your blood
- Increases irritability
- Decreases functioning of the immune system
- Raises levels of cortisone levels in the body
- Reduces levels of energy
The hormones released in the body while under stress include adrenalin, corticotrophin, and cortisol. While adrenalin and corticotrophin are known to decrease the appetite; however, these effect quickly wear off.
Cortisone is entirely different and follows its own timetable and will hang around long after your stress levels have been reduced.
This causes an increase in appetite, which causes you to consume more foods that are usually high in carbohydrates. Obviously, there is a direct correlation between stress and weight gain.
There is good news however, and whether your urge to eat is driven by stress, hormones, or poor habits, there are a number of things that you can do to interrupt the vicious cycle.
Exercise is one of the best stress reducers out there; it not only burns calories, but your body will begin to produce several biochemicals as a result of your exercise, some of which counteract the negative effects brought on by stress hormones.
Try doing an activity that you actually enjoy – and don’t overdo it. Too much exercise can increase cortisone levels and stress.
2. Losing Sleep:
Try not to lose any sleep throughout the week. When you don’t get enough sleep, your cortisone levels increase, causing you to feel hungry and less satisfied with the food you consume.
3. Eat A Well-Balanced Diet:
It’s important that you start each day with a healthy breakfast. It’s also a good idea to consume six smaller meals throughout the day – opposed to the three meals a day you’re used to.
Try to include food from all of the food groups to help keep blood sugars steady and lower cortisone levels. This will allow you better control your appetite and lose weight.
4. Snack Foods:
If you simply cannot ignore the stress-related hunger and sugar cravings, try eating foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar. These include whole wheat breads, oatmeal, and an assortment of fruits that includes plums, pears, and more.
Take part in activities that make you feel calm. This can include relaxing with a good book, listening to music, watching a movie, practicing Yoga, going fishing, and more.
Anything that you can do to increase your feelings of relaxation and calming will help counteract the effects of stress.
Try to avoid foods that are high in sugar such as pasta, white flower, cake, and even white rice. Always select whole grain foods that are high in fiber instead.
6. Alcohol, Cigarettes, and Caffeine:
Alcohol, Cigarettes, tea, caffeine, and even chocolate can cause levels of cortisol to increase, increase stress levels, sugar levels to drop, and increase your appetite.
Additionally, drinking too much alcohol can have a negative effect on blood sugar and insulin levels.
To ensure that your body receives the vitamins and nutrients it needs to be healthy and function properly, it’s important that you eat a well-balanced diet and take a multi-vitamin.
Vitamin B complex and Vitamin C are particularly useful as they help convert food to energy. High-potency vitamins ensure that your body has what it needs to battle stress, burn fat, and lose weight.
It’s important that you take time out of each day and be grateful for the things that you do have. This will help you to not sweat the small stuff in life and can actually lower your stress levels.
When you feel the pressures of stress, think of at least three things in your life that you’re grateful for; developing an attitude of gratitude is good for the heart, mind, and soul.
If you practice the suggestions above, you stress levels will reduce, and soon you will be shaving off the excess pounds that you want to do away with – once and for all.