Some stress is beneficial and can get you moving and motivated. But when stress is prolonged, leaving you feeling dragged out, your body’s chemistry begins to change.
When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is not all bad. It’s responsible for regulating your body’s fuel and pumps out while exercising, eating, fasting, when you wake up and when you’re under stress. Cortisol’s job is to replenish the body after stress has passed. The problem comes when you’re under ongoing stress and high levels of cortisol are continually circulating through your body.
Cortisol forces your body to hold on to fat stores and even relocates fat to your belly and deep into your abdomen. It also slows down your metabolism, eats away at muscle mass and weakens the immune system. This causes weight gain, and the abdominal fat around your organs puts you at higher risk for developing metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
To add insult to injury, cortisol fuels cravings for high-calorie, high-carbohydrate, fatty foods. Studies show women under stress with high cortisol levels tend to eat more. When stress continues, your appetite continues to rev in high gear while your metabolism crawls along. So as your body hoards fat due to high cortisol levels, your increased food intake is creating even more fat to store. It’s a vicious cycle.
Chronic stress also makes it harder to stick to healthy living habits, like regular exercise and eating nutritious foods. And it zaps your stores of important nutrients such as B complex vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc, leaving you tired and more prone to illness as your metabolism slumps.
The bottom line is you must manage and reduce stress to be able to lose weight, maintain energy and protect your health.
How to Get Control of Stress and Weight
1. Exercise consistently.
Regular exercise is a top way to lower the amount of cortisol pulsing through your body in response to stress. Exercise also burns calories to help with weight loss.
Short bursts of high-intensity exercise with periods of rest between have been shown to help reduce cortisol levels while improving your mood in minutes. Intense bursts of energy followed by recovery time teaches your body how to better use stress. Think circuit training or jumping jacks followed by push-ups.
If you choose aerobic activities such as running to relieve stress, keep it under 45 minutes for the best cortisol-lowering benefits. Longer aerobic exercise actually bumps up cortisol levels.
2. Sleep peacefully.
Stress, sleep and weight loss are another important partnership. Getting enough stress-free sleep is crucial to weight loss. Yet we know stress sometimes causes insomnia. Studies show people with the lowest stress levels who got between six and eight hours of sleep were most likely to lose at least 10 pounds. Those who reported the highest stress levels and got six or fewer hours of sleep per night were less likely to lose weight. So by reducing stress and sleeping the right amount, you’ll be able to lose weight easier.
3. Eat healthy foods frequently.
Skipping meals increases cortisol levels. Plan a schedule of well-balanced meals combined with healthy low-calorie snacks spread throughout the day. Limit your carbohydrates since too many spurs more release of cortisol and insulin spikes.
4. Fuel right.
Stress is a leading contributor to the cycle of fatigue and mental fog. And when you’re exhausted and stressed, it’s difficult to exercise and eat right. That’s where Reliv’s 24K™ healthy energy shot comes in. 24K packs 24 powerful, healthy ingredients into a five-calorie, sugar-free, caffeine-free, ready-to-drink shot. The synergistic ingredients nourish your body to soothe stress, energize you and provide mental clarity. And by reducing your stress, you open the door to easier weight loss.
Another way to boost your weight loss efforts is with Reliv’s Slimplicity® Weight Loss System. A delicious Slimplicity shake combined with Accelerator Capsules cranks up your metabolism, keeps your appetite in check and fuels you with nutrients and ingredients to help you lose your belly. Just replacing one meal a day with a shake is an easy, stress-free step to a slimmer you!