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 stressed!
So what is stress anyway? Is it the worry over a new job or paying the bills or
having two kids in college (sorry, that’s one of mine), or simply the demands of everyday life? While yes, all of those certainly fit into the stress category, there’s a lot more to it than you think.
What many people don’t realize is that stress is also caused by other physiological demands, such as:
- chronic infections
- autoimmune disease
- environmental toxins
- too much exercise (yes, don’t hate-I actually wrote an article about it the dangers of overexercising here)
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!
Other effects of having prolonged stress and surges of cortisol can:
- raise your blood sugar
- cause your body to store fat
- increase cravings (especially sugar)
- make your cells less sensitive to insulin (which keeps your blood sugar elevated)
- increase you cholesterol and triglycerides
Adrenal Fatigue – know the warning signs.
We’ve already said that 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.
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue may include:
- high blood sugar
- high blood pressure
- a state of being wired all the time
- chronic fatigue and lack of energy
- memory loss and/or lack of mental clarity
- weight gain
What are your thoughts on stress and weight gain? Are you experiencing signs of Adrenal Fatigue?
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll give you tips on reducing your stress and supplement options to reduce or even reverse those symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue.