When you’re under stress — whether from job worries, financial pressure or family issues — it’s easy to bury yourself in a pint of ice cream or bag of chips. But on top of the extra calories you’re wolfing down, other changes are taking place in your body that encourage your body to pack on pounds under stress.
How Your Body Reacts to Stress
When we’re stressed, the body releases hormones including adrenalin and cortisol. It’s part of the ancient “fight or flight” response. While adrenalin gives you an energy boost, cortisol’s job is to replenish the body after the stress has passed — it increases your appetite so you eat more. But if the stress continues, cortisol levels remain elevated and your appetite level remains in high gear. And with it the pounds pile on as you eat more to satisfy your hunger.
But it’s not just hunger — it’s what you hunger for under stress that causes the domino effect. Under stress, you crave carbs — fuel for your muscles under stress. To get the sugar from your bloodstream to your muscles, the body produces insulin. But high levels of insulin and sugar can lead the body to store fat — often the belly fat that has been linked to diabetes and heart disease.
You may even get caught in a vicious stress-eating cycle based on habit, too. You’re stressed, you reach for the high-carb foods and feel comforted so you do it again anytime you feel stressed — even if you don’t feel hungry.
A recent study also found that stress unlocks fat cells so they grow in both size and number, thanks to a chain reaction started by molecules produced in your body under stress.
So with all these body reactions working against us, is weight gain inevitable in today’s stressful world? Sorry, you’ll have to find another excuse for that spare tire. You can combat stress and weight gain.
Stress-Busting Steps to Take Control of Your Weight
1. Manage stress with exercise. Stress needs to be managed, not just for your waistline but for your overall health. Regular exercise helps reduce stress hormones and counters their negative effects. Studies have found exercise acts as an antidepressant, reduces anxiety, and helps people sleep better. It also controls insulin and sugar levels. And of course, we know exercise helps burn calories, build muscle and lose weight.
2. Eat right. Aim for six small meals throughout the day rather than three large meals. This will help keep blood sugar levels even, which will slow down insulin production and reduce cortisol levels to keep your appetite and weight in check. When hunger is calling, skip the candy bars and chips and go for filling, high-fiber foods like oatmeal, whole wheat bread, apples or pears.
3. Get your sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, cortisol levels increase along with your appetite. Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
4. Relax. Find some activities that make you feel calm, whether you choose yoga, meditation, reading or a nature walk. Relaxation, like exercise, counters the effects of stress.
5. Replenish your vitamins. Many studies have shown that stress zaps your stores of important nutrients such as B complex and C vitamin, along with the minerals magnesium and zinc. One way to make sure you’re getting balanced nutrition is with Reliv Classic® or Reliv Now® nutritional supplements.
6. Watch your calories but don’t UNDER do it. Eating too few calories actually increases your body’s stress level and encourages it to burn fewer calories by slowing metabolism. Keep calories at an optimum level by substituting one meal each day with a Reliv Slimplicity® shake and eating two healthy, balanced meals along with low-calorie snacks during the day. Add Slimplicity Accelerator capsules to keep your appetite under control and metabolism in high gear so you can lose weight the healthy, no-stress way!