Thoughts on Better Aging

Is Stress Making You Fat?

December 12th, 2016

The stress hormone cortisol can have a big impact on your weight.

Are you struggling with your weight? Stressing out about your body and your inability to shed pounds can actually make matters worse. This is because stress can cause changes in your mood and body chemistry that make it easier to gain weight and much harder to lose it.

Stress Eating

When you experience stress your body releases a hormone called cortisol, which ultimately results in the production of adrenaline—also known as the fight for flight hormone. Traditionally, either fight or flight would consume significant calories. However, modern man’s response to stress is seldom fight or flight. Nevertheless, whether calories are burned or not, the body is still programmed to replenish calories after experiencing stress. This means you’ll be hungry after experiencing stress—even if you have not actually burned any calories in response to the stress.

You’re also likely to be hungry for fattening comfort foods during and after times of stress. This is because increased cortisol levels can raise insulin, which can cause low blood sugar, and ultimately a craving for sugary, fatty foods.

Stress and Your Metabolism

When your body floods with cortisol, it will want to direct as much energy as possible to fight or flight. This can be accomplished by slowing down other less urgent functions like immune responses, and digestion. Over time, repeated or chronic stress can actually change your metabolism, making it slower and less effective at burning calories.

Stress Drinking

Some people use alcohol to relax or forget their troubles. However, when you drink, your liver stops burning fat so it can focus on getting rid of the alcohol. This means more of the calories from your regular diet will be stored as fat—probably in the belly.

Stress and Poor Sleep

Another way stress can contribute to weight gain is by disrupting your sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, the hormones that signal hunger and fullness become imbalanced. You may wake up feeling hungry, and with your impulse control compromised by poor sleep, you may be more likely to choose unhealthy foods.

Make Stress Management a Key Part of Your Weight Loss Plan

The bottom line is that stress can easily interfere with your weight management goals. But the negative impact of cortisol goes far beyond your waistline. Cortisol also causes premature aging of virtually every system in the body. To live a longer, healthier life, you absolutely must keep stress under control. Strategies involving solutions like meditation and exercise can help. If your cortisol levels are already elevated, Renew Youth can help. Contact us today to learn more.

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