Is Stress Making You Fat?


So many clients come to me because they just can’t lose those last 5 to 10 pounds. As I work with them, we dive deeper into their lifestyle and habits. What you eat is not the only thing that can cause you to gain weight (or store fat)! This is something overlooked more often than not. Your environment and lifestyle are major contributing factors in your weight gain and loss.

What Happens When the Body is Under Stress?

When your body is under stress, your brain signals the adrenal glands, located on the kidneys, to release large doses of adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Adrenaline is produced when your body is (or thinks it is) under attack or threatened.

Read more: The Cortisol Connection

In many cases today, these “attacks” are everyday stressors – work, family, school, etc. Cortisol increases your appetite and energy level. This hormone stimulates the storage and release of energy in the body. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream and also alters immune system responses, suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes.

When cortisol is released and tells your body to use all of it’s energy (sugar), your body stops using fat for energy, and instead stores it. Cortisol turns off digestion and increases your appetite, therefore telling your body to use the sugar now, and store the fat for later. If you are someone who is constantly under stress, your body is becoming a fat storing machine.

Decrease Your Stress Levels

First, identify what causes stress in your life. Is there anything you can eliminate or decrease? Is there a way for you to change your perspective on something that typically stresses you out? Sometimes we tend to stress about things that are beyond our control – if we can accept that there is traffic, and make the most of our drive, or find a new route, we won’t stress about it. Try to re-frame how you react to different situations.

Try these 5 simple tips to help you reduce stress:

1. Get outside. Not only does the sun provide stress-relieving Vitamin D, it is good for the soul too.

2. Get more magnesium, which is known to have a calming effect on the body. Incorporate foods like dark leafy greens, avocados, pumpkin seeds or a quality nutritional supplement.

3. Incorporate moderate exercise daily. Do something you enjoy and do it often. Whether it is walking, yoga, dance, cycling, or boxing, the key is to find something you like. Not only does exercise take our mind off of the stressors, it burns off excess glucose so it doesn't get stored as fat. Beware of overexercising because it can have the opposite effect and cause more stress which will signal the body to store fat, rather than release it.
 
4. Learn to meditate or breathe deeply. Deep breathing helps us switch gears from stress mode to relaxation mode. You don't have to sit for extended periods of time to benefit. All it takes is a few minutes of deep breathing for your body and mind to reap the rewards.

5. Treat yourself to a massage or try acupuncture. Both can release areas of built up tension in the body.

Read more:  Adrenal Stress: What You Can Do About It

Over time, stress can cause many serious health issues. The consistent release of these stress hormones cause damage in the body as well as simply exhaust you. It’s important to get your stress levels under control. I find that once my clients begin to get a handle on their stress, those last 5 to 10 pounds fall off and stay off.




By Tara Hantske| April 19, 2016
Categories:  Care

About the Author

Tara Hantske

Tara Hantske

Tara has been a health advocate and wellness maven most of her life. Tara graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a Concentration in Marketing from The University of Denver in 2005. While at DU Tara was a division 1 athlete and knows first-hand the power and importance of the mind-body-health connection to success and optimal health. With that, Tara knows that not everything works for everyone–we are all individuals–and that is the core of her coaching style. Her love for health and education lead her to found Tara Hantske Wellness

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