Tuesday Tip: Does Stress Make You Fat 🤯
Stress affects our mind and bodies in many ways. It makes you tired, affects your mood but can it also affect your weight?
Studies have shown that those people with the largest waist circumferences often report the highest stress. This doesn’t necessarily mean the stress is the cause of the weight but there is a pattern there. A recent study found that women exposed to a range of stressful tasks took 20% more of the free chocolate they were offered, compared to when they didn’t have the stress. But why does this happen?
The hormone corticotropin-releasing hormone rises in response to stress. This triggers a release of cortisol and adrenalin (the ‘stress’ hormones). Cortisol stimulates the release of glucose to provide fuel for fight or flight while adrenaline primes the nervous system for action. Once the stress is over, adrenaline disperses, but cortisol and the glucose remains and causes a surge of insulin. This stimulates the appetite, in order to to encourage the body to restore its fuel stores, to be ready to cope with the next fight or flight situation.
Now in reality we don’t actually use the glucose we’ve released, but we still refuel because we’re hard-wired to do so. The cortisol also encourages excess fuel to be stored as abdominal fat where it raises our risk of heart disease and diabetes.
So what can you do? One of the most obvious ways to solve the problem is to reduce or eliminate stress by changing your lifestyle and learning coping strategies. Studies have also shown that regular exercise enables you to become more stress-resilient. Not only will this dissipate those stress hormones, it will also release beta-endorphins, making you feel calm and contented. And the fitter you are, the lower the rise in cortisol.
Be aware of the connection between stress and appetite; just recognising it can help avoid the instant urge to stuff your face. Also during inevitable times of stress, be sure to have healthy options for snacks handy so your choices are limited. Set yourself up for success by having fruits and vegetables around, as well as good sources of protein.
Happy Tuesday 🤗