Believe it or not, stress was once a good thing. Back when humans relied on a “fight or flight” response to avoid danger, our bodies learned to release chemicals to give us an instant burst of energy. These chemicals—adrenalin and cortisol—are still released today, but for different reasons than they used to be.
While our ancient ancestors would react to the stress of an occasional dangerous animal or situation, we react to the constant stress of jobs, bills, traffic and family. This continuous stress tells our bodies to repeatedly flood our systems with adrenalin and cortisol.
This can lead to a very unfortunate situation in our bodies that we not-so-fondly refer to as “stress weight gain”.
After a stressful situation at home or work, your body isn’t aware that you didn’t “fight or flee,” but it still signals your body to replenish your nutritional stores. This makes you hungry—especially for sugary and starchy foods. In fact, the cortisol in your body can prompt you to eat high-carbohydrate foods for DAYS after the stressful event occurred! This is especially bad if you are dealing with high levels of stress every day. Over time, responding to these stress signals leads to the storage of “visceral fat” that accumulates around the midsection, leading to stress weight gain and an increased risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
With the high level of stress in our lives, experts recommend some tips to help you relax and reduce the likelihood that you’ll experience stress weight gain:
-Do a Little Exercise – Exercising is key to reducing stress. It not only burns calories, but helps to control and reverse the negative effects of stress hormones.
-Get a Good Night’s Sleep – When you don’t get enough sleep, cortisol levels rise, making you feel hungry.
-Take Time to Relax – Whether you choose yoga, deep breathing or just take some time to read, letting your body relax can counteract the effects of stress. You can also read this fabulous Slimgenics article about how to Reduce Stress Now.
-Avoid Caffeine, Cigarettes and Alcohol – Cigarettes and caffeine cause cortisol levels to rise while alcohol disturbs blood sugar and insulin levels.
-Eat a Balanced Diet – Eating healthy meals, especially breakfast, helps to maintain consistent blood sugar levels and leads to reduced cortisol levels.
Next time you’re in a stressful situation, take a deep breath and remind yourself that your health is more important than a traffic jam or deadline at work! But if you’re feeling overly stressed and want to better control those spontaneous weight gains, schedule your complimentary consultation at one of our conveniently-located centers today and receive a FREE Body Composition analysis.
Have a great stress-free day,