Stress may be causing you to gain weight or not lose weight.
Did you know that 2 + 2 = 5? If you’re talking about the world of hormones and how they play a role in your body with stress, it can!
Did you know that if you are under a lot of stress, that your body actually produces hormones that may promote weight gain? How does that work?
There is a so-called “stress hormone” called cortisol that is released into your system along with the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine that act as a “fight or flight” response to situations that your body perceives as a threat – or situations of high stress. Once that “threat” is gone, the epinephrine and norepinephrine levels go back down to normal while the cortisol actually remains elevated over a much longer period of time. And if you suffer from chronic or long-term stress, then cortisol levels remain high too. This works great if you are a caveman, but not so great in today’s modern lifestyle!
So why do you care about cortisol and why don’t you want high levels remaining in your system for extended periods of time? One of the functions of cortisol is to act as an agent to get energy released in your body. In the short term, it stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy AND it stimulates insulin release which affects your blood sugar levels.
As noted before, a rise in blood sugar levels increases appetite and decreases your body’s fat burning abilities. So, eventually, increased cortisol levels in your body due to poorly managed stress or chronic stress may stimulate the appetite and cause additional weight gain or difficulty in losing unwanted pounds.
In addition to the possible weight gain, cortisol can also affect where you gain the weight. Studies have shown that stress and increased cortisol levels tend to cause you to deposit the fat into the abdominal area rather than the hip area, which has been strongly correlated with the development of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and strokes, depressed immune function, accelerated aging and stomach ulcers.
Stress Reduction is Essential
Clearly, if one is to reduce cortisol levels in your body for an extended period of time, then managing the stress in your life is critical for success. Being the human beings that we are, everyone has to find their own method of stress reduction techniques that work best for them. Here are a few suggestions:
1. You should get to know reasons behind stress in your life.
2. Engage in some activities that help reduce daily stress. For instance, meditation, physical activity, attitude and outlook changes, learning how to say “NO.”
3. Rest! Rest is essential for the body to normalize itself. Deliberately choose to get the amount of rest you need.
4. Low glycemic diets are important. Leaving out the excess carbohydrates and maintaining the protein in your diet will help stabilize the blood sugar to avoid the development of high insulin levels and ultimately diabetes.
5. Nutritional supplementation can be an important addition to helping restore normal cortisol levels. High quality B6 and essential minerals along with magnesium can help tremendously (both Active 8 and B-Active are excellent pharmaceutical-grade supplements you can take).
While cortisol plus insulin magnifies the weight gain problem (2+2=5