Could stress be holding you back on your fat loss goals?

Updated: May 17, 2020

More than often, people are living in a high-stress environment and a fast paced environment which can actually be detrimental to your weight loss goals. This is caused by the effect of our ‘flight-or-fight’ hormones: cortisol and adrenaline.

Historically, these hormones were released as a response to situations of danger, allowing you to run away from danger and hold onto fat as a protection mechanism.

When Fear makes us Superhuman - Adrenaline

Adrenaline is released firstly in response to an immediate threat. Your body responds through blood being diverted to periphery’s (ie arms and legs in preparation for a fight or flight situation) and triggers glucose to be released into the bloodstream to allow for instant energy.

However, as most of our stress comes from lifestyle, mental or psychological factors, that release of glucose is not used. Insulin (the fat storage hormone) is released to balance high blood glucose levels, and hence, fat is stored.

The Stress hormone - Cortisol

Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands which helps your body replenish the fight or flight event, and prepare you in times of scarcity of food to hold onto more body fat.

If you tend to eat more when you are stressed, this fuel will go straight into storage as a response for this. But what about people who don’t eat when they’re stressed? This will also result into fat storage as it confirms that food is in fact, scarce.

What to do now - help!

This is why, dealing with stress is a major factor of weight loss and maintenance. Health should be looked at holistically and dealt with through every aspect of an individuals life.

Here are some tips to help with stress reduction:

  • Move your body - maybe this means going for a walk and yoga or a HITT workout and some weights! Find what works for you and releases those endorphins to use your stress hormones effectively and keep your stress levels low.

  • Meditation - there are so many amazing apps and resources out there that can help you with guided meditations. I am loving the app "Insight Timer" or "KIXXFITT" at the moment as it has such a variety of different meditations. Otherwise, try putting a timer on and count your breaths to 10, and repeat.

  • Music - have you ever noticed that as soon as a certain song comes on, it will put you in a particular mood? Listen to relaxing, soothing music to try and reduce your stress levels.

  • Seek help - there is absolutely no harm in asking for others support. Whether it is a friend, family member or councillor/psychologist, find someone to talk to who will understand and support you to become your best self (even if it is via Skype/phone call during these times!).

  • And perhaps the most important technique - recognise your personal triggers. Try to pin point what is creating the most stress and anxiety. Through identifying your trigger, you can start to work out how to work through to find a solution.

If you are dealing with chronic stress or other health issues, please avoid the overwhelm of navigating it on your own and seek the help of a nutritionist, psychologist or other health practitioner near you.

Give yourself the health and wellbeing that your body and mind deserves.

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