AVOIDING OR LEARNING TO DEAL WITH STRESS
Symptoms of stress:
● A tendency to gain and store fat around the middle of your body, your belly.
● Processed and/ or refined foods/ junk foods (sweets, white flour, salty foods, coffee and alcohol) put stress on the body
● Energy slumps in the middle of the day
● Frequent colds/flu’s/infections
● Irregular or absent periods
● Difficulty concentrating
● Nail biting
● Teeth grinding
● High cholesterol
● Mood swings
● Bloating – digestive problems
● Flatulence – digestive troubles
● Hair loss
● Increased appetite
● Increased craving for high sugar foods
● A slower metabolism which makes it harder to lose weight in general
● A low sex drive
● Tiredness – yet an inability to sleep well
● OVERTRAINING – can also stress the body
Stress is one of the biggest causes of storing excess fat.
If you have your exercise and diet under control and you still have fat around your middle – maybe the cause is to do with your stress levels.
When we are frightened, angry, tense, worried or stressed (eg a busy work schedule, money worries, general work stress, road rage etc) our adrenal glands (found on top of our kidneys) release two hormones known as adrenaline and cortisol.
Cortisol levels only rise and stay elevated when we are stressed.
If there are high levels of cortisol in the bloodstream it means that the body thinks that it needs to continuously refuel and consequently stores fat around the middle ready to fight more stress.
Under constant stress, the high cortisol levels signal the liver to release its stores of glucose (fuel for energy) to cope with a ‘fight or flight’ situation.
Cortisol tells the fat cells around the middle to release fat for fuel – which goes straight into the bloodstream. The result, as aforementioned, is that this extra energy (glucose/sugar/fat) is released ready for a fight or flight situation. If for example, you remain seated behind the steering wheel, silently fuming, the extra energy is not used up.
After a while, the high levels of extra energy in the bloodstream will trigger the pancreas to release the hormone – insulin.
Insulin – tells the body to store fat and triggers a craving for some high calorie foods.
Abdominal fat cells have many receptors for cortisol (four times more than anywhere else in the body) if you are stressed and have high levels of cortisol, the abdominal fat cells will be calling out for cortisol encouraging your body to store more fat there, which explains why fat accumulates so readily around the middle.
The adrenal glands release cortisol, when we are constantly stressed, the adrenal glands become overworked which will make people unwell, overweight and can lead to a possible total burn out.
Functions of Cortisol:
● Prepares the muscles for ‘fight or flight’ response.
● It helps the body to release sugar into the bloodstream for instant energy.
● This gives the body an immediate burst of energy, which we can use either to “fight” or for “flight” (run away).
● Tells your body to store fat.
● Locks fat around your middle.
Functions of Adrenaline:
· Is the classic fight-flight hormone – defense mechanism that allows the body to respond to a stressful situation
· Triggers expansion of blood vessels.
· Increases blood pressure.
· Higher blood glucose levels.
· Increases heart rate.
· Keeps us alert and focused.
Adrenaline and cortisol will give you that sickly, jittery, panicky feeling that you get in your stomach when you are stressed.
Why modern stress is bad for you, it can:
· Make us fat
· Wear out the immune system
· Increase the risk of serious illness
· Plays havoc with your digestive system stress – shuts down our digestive system because the blood is redirected to our muscles –to run away! Some people find when they are stressed that they aren’t hungry during the stressful period but after the stress passes they get the munchies!
· Modern stress is almost unavoidable with our busy lifestyles e.g. looming deadlines, traffic, being late, annoying colleagues, queuing etc.
How does stress make us fat?
When we get stressed, our bodies release adrenaline and cortisol in response to the stress. When we are in REAL physical danger this is brilliant it gives us the energy to fight or to run away as fast as possible. In this case the body uses up the extra energy that has been released. Hence you do not get fat.