So you are doing everything right to reach your fitness or weight loss goals. You’re totally killing it at the gym. Your macros are on point, your cardio is consistent, but when it comes to results, you’re not getting the traction you want. What is going on?
There are many factors that could be at play, but one big culprit might be stress. A recent study has further proven that stress is linked to weight gain. By comparing the stress levels and weight of more than 2,500 men and women over 54, researchers found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol, positively correlated to a wider waist and higher body mass index (BMI). These results suggest that continuous exposure to elevated cortisol levels might contribute to long-term obesity.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream, suppresses inflammation, and regulates blood pressure. It also plays a considerable role in metabolism, body composition, and fat gain.
Cortisol also makes us crave high-sugar carbohydrates since they provide the fastest source of energy. This is the why for “stress eating”. However, despite the things going on in your life, you are still showing 100% comment to your meal plan but the thing is, you don’t even need to overeat for cortisol to affect your waistline. This is because one of the functions of cortisol is to shuttle glucose out of storage so your brain and body can use it for the expected battle ahead. But under chronic stress, the body doesn’t need all that extra glucose, so it releases insulin to deal with it. More insulin can lead to weight gain, and then it becomes an ongoing cycle.
Of course, while we can’t control everything or avoid every stressful situation, we can control our environment and our response to stress. Here are a few quick tips to help you manage your stress levels:
● Organize - This will help keep you on track and makes your days go smoother
● Identify Stress - When you start to feel anxious or irritable, determine the source, and take mental notes on how to distract yourself from it.
● Exercise - working out releases endorphins which make us happy thus reducing stress
● Relax - Anything that brings you peace is considered relaxing and being relax helps you keep calmer in the face of stressful situations
● Sleep - Not getting enough sleep is a major cause of stress and has been linked to weight gain. Lack of sleep also causes the body to release cortisol, which, in turn, messes with your sleep cycle and makes it even more difficult to sleep
Now that you know that stress may be sabotaging your fitness goals, it will be up to you to be preventive. Even if you’re not stressed now, putting strategies in place to stay that way can be crucial for staying on track, no matter what your long-term weight goals might be.