Million dollar question: “Is stress making me fat?” Well, believe it or not, stress can contribute to your weight gain, slow your metabolism, sabotage your weight loss efforts and contribute to disease! I know right! Just thinking about it makes me feel like I need a little massage therapy to relax me!
It’s something we’ve heard before, “When I’m stressed I eat” or “I’m an emotional eater”….while yes, those obvious stressors can certainly lead to weight gain, but real-life, genuine stress, not necessarily apparent stress can also play a major role in not only our weight, but our overall health.
Let’s talk about how stress can cause you to gain weight and contribute to health problems.
Our body’s natural response to stress (or our “fight or flight” response) is to release a hormone called Cortisol. So, let’s pause there….if you are visibly scared or put in a stressful situation, what’s the first thing you notice about yourself: sweaty palms, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, heavy breathing and so on…right? You can thank cortisol for that.
But what is also happening that you may not be aware of is that:
- your metabolism is slowed > your body is conserving energy so you can “fight or flight”
- your blood sugar rises > your body is releasing immediate sugar for quick energy
Get it? So now, let’s put this into our typical everyday situations where we are not necessarily in a fight or flight situation and running for our life.
When we live in a constant state of high stress, our body doesn’t know the difference so what does it do? You guessed it–releases cortisol. With this steady stream of cortisol flowing through our veins our blood pressure rises, blood sugar elevates and our metabolism slows. More importantly, did you know that prolonged surges of cortisol can suppress the immune system, cause muscle wasting and decrease bone formation!? Hello! This is big time!
The adrenal glands are responsible for releasing cortisol. After releasing cortisol over and over again due to sustained circumstances of high stress, the adrenal glands obviously can’t keep up and become sluggish…in other words get all out of whack. When this happens a collection of symptoms occur known as Adrenal Fatigue.
What are your thoughts on stress and weight gain? Are you experiencing signs of Adrenal Fatigue? How do you deal with stress?
I’m stressed just thinking about it! 😉