Everybody deals with stress at one point in time or other. No matter if you’re stressing out about a big date, what socks you’re going to wear, whether or not she is actually pregnant, or the pack of wolves that just jumped out from the bush behind you (run dude!), your body has the same reaction to stress. The hormones epinephrine and cortisol flood your blood and frighten you into action. These “alarm” hormones make your heart beat faster, bronchial tube dilate to feed oxygen to your starving brain, and also release fat and glucose into your bloodstream for energy. This means that having too much stress will give you a high cortisol level consistently. You may be wondering why that’s such a bad thing. For starters, consistent high cortisol negatively disrupts your metabolism, and it also signals cells to store as much fat as possible! Storing fat is not good, let alone as much as possible. The thing is, is that the cortisol receptors in your abdominal region seem to be better so guess where the majority of that fat storage happens? You got it – as visceral fat behind your abs! Cortisol can also effect weight gain through cravings because high levels of cortisol has you craving more salty/fatty/sugary treats. Eat too many of those and you may have to put a few new notches in your favourite belt (and not to make it tighter). One big contribution to weight gain via cortisol is what is called emotional eating. Emotional eating consists of:
Social Eating – Stress seeks social support. We all know this fact because release is great for stress. However it gives that “feel good now, regret later” feeling after a big sundae, or bag of chips.
Nervous Energy – When you’re stressed or anxious you often get “orally fidgety.” Examples would be nail-biting, teeth grinding, or eating when not hungry.
Childhood Habits – Comforting memories mostly revolve around food. When you were younger your parents may have bribed you with sweets. Rewards like these develop emotional attachments.
Stuffing Emotions – Some people eat to quiet uncomfortable emotions like those who don’t deal well with confrontation. Instead they deal with their frustrations by eating junk rather than communication since food can take the focus off of numerous emotions.
Just looking at the way stress works and how people often deal with it shows you how difficult it can be to battle weight gain when stressed out. Often people get stressed out when they aren’t losing the weight they thought and then creates a vicious cycle of gain, gain, gain. Learning to control your stress can be a task but the better you are at it, the more success you can see in the weight loss department.