An unfortunate truth is that stress is a fact of life, and now the latest research reveals that is also keeping us fat. Chronic stress can make it difficult to lose weight for even the healthiest of eaters, and can even trigger weight gain.
When presented with stress, the body reacts by sending out a rush of adrenaline which triggers your fight or flight response. In addition, you will receive a flood of Cortisol which sends a message to your body to replenish lost energy even if no energy was expended. Cortisol production will continue as long as stress continues which can increase appetite and cravings. Cortisol also encourages your body to hold on to fat, especially fat around the stomach and organs. This can cause problems such as increased cholesterol and high blood sugar.
Compounding the problem is that most people will reach for sweet, salty, or high-fat foods because they trigger the pleasure center of the brain which reduces tension. This comforting effect can become addicting, so when stressful events occur, it becomes a routine to reach for unhealthy foods.
Furthermore, when the production of Cortisol increases, testosterone decreases. This drop in testosterone can cause a decrease in muscle mass which translates to fewer calories burned, and the likelihood of gaining weight.
On Monday, I will discuss ways to help deal with stress and which will help ward off the critical effects of Cortisol.