The Effects of Stress On Weight Loss

Main Points

  • Causation of stress
  • Chemical Process of stress
  • Effects of stress on weight loss

What Causes Stress ?

  • Stress is a part of our everyday lives.  We are met with stresses everyday, some of us are better than others at handling it, and vice versa.  During the times of the cavemen, stress was an acute aspect of life.  When in danger, our ancestors’ fight or flight instincts would kick in.  They would either fight the predator or run.  As soon as they were out of danger, their body’s would re-acclimate back to a “normal” state.
  • However, in modern day society, we as human’s are presented with daily stresses.  For example :  traffic, relationships, work, school, body image, etc.  We are facing constant stressors 24/7.  As a result of this stress, our body produces a chemical called cortisol.

Chemical Process of Stress

  • Cortisol is a chemical released by the adrenal cortex.  It’s responsibility in the body is to produce energy, keep the mind alert, and help the body burn fat.  When we our presented with stress, our bodies release cortisol in response.  However, when we are met with constant stress or unable to relax, cortisol is released and our bodies become over stimulated.

The Effects of Stress On Weight Loss

  • When cortisol is chronically released, our body responds in three ways :
    1. Makes Cells Less Responsive
      • Cortisol affects the receptor sites of other hormones, thus making the cells less responsive to signals.  This could lead to insulin resistance, which will lead to leptin resistance.  Leptin is a hormone that signals the brain that you are full, when it is low, you’re body signals your brain that you are hungry still.
    2. Cortisol Increases Inflammation
      • Our body stores two types of fat :  subcutaneous (highest layer of fat) and visceral (deepest layer of fat).  When cortisol is released in long durations the body is prone to store more of our visceral fat, the hardest fat to lose.  Visceral fat surrounds our organs and releases the same inflammatory signals as cortisol.
    3. Hormones Become Unregulated
      • When the abundance of cortisol occurs, the hunger hormones : Ghrelin and Leptin become unregulated.  Ghrelin is released when we are hungry, and is increased when our body is under stress.  The combination of lower level leptin, and higher level ghrelin often leads to over eating.

Methods To Lower Stress

  • Journaling
    • Write down your thoughts at the end of the day in a notebook, you may find that writing down your thoughts may help relax your mind.
  • Meditation
    • Quiet the mind, start by sitting in a dimly lit room, in silence or with nature sounds.  Try to just relax, and be in the moment.
  • Communicating
    • Talk.  Talk to a loved one, a friend, or just someone who will listen.  Sometimes just communicating how we are feeling, we are able to find relief.

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