Is Stress Adding to your Weight?

Crystal Champagne
It’s a known fact that when stressed, often our healthy eating habits go out the window. It may be due to the fact that eating fills an emotional void, so when stressed that piece of apple pie looks so much more tempting. Or it could be as simple as poor food choices due to a lack of time and popping a Mikes frozen pizza in the oven allows us to finish what’s on our “to do” list.

So it is acceptable to say that stress does affect our eating habits, but more importantly stress affects our bodies in ways which can also lead to weight gain and this is due to the stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland and it is released in response to such things as pressure, anxiety and nervous tension.

The diet industry has been trying to capitalize on the relation of cortisol and weight gain claiming that their hormone replacements may lower cortisol and in enhance weight loss. In my knowledge there has never been any medical journals published, with independent studies proving that these supplements in deed have any influence on cortisol reduction or weight loss.

Cortisol’s primary function is to regulate blood sugar, energy production, help our immune systems stay strong as well as aid in the body’s healing process. However this hormone can get out of whack and elevate due to stress and we can suffer some significant physiological changes which I will mention below. The type of stress does not affect the secretion of cortisol, so it could be brought on by physical stress, environmental, chemical or even imaginary.

Enclosed are a few examples of what a chronic exposure to stress can do to our bodies, so this is why it is important to keep our cortisol levels in control.

  • Increased abdominal fat, which has a strong correlation to certain health issues. Some of the health problems associated to increased stomach fat are heart attacks and strokes
  • Decreased muscle mass (which lowers your metabolic rate which in return will make you gain weight if lifestyle changes are not made)
  • Decreased bone density
  • Lowered thyroid function
  • Lowered immune function

Exercise is one of the best methods for lowering cortisol levels that may rise in response to stress, plus it has the added benefit of burning calories which is what really stimulates weight loss. Just another reason why we should exercise daily! It doesn’t matter what you do for exercise, just “get moving” is my motto!

Crystal Champagne

“A man’s health can be judged by which he takes two at a time—pills or stairs”

Joan Welsh

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Crystal Champagne - Personal Trainer
Crystal combines 10 years of competitive equestrian riding to her certifications as a personal and group trainer to inspire individuals in achieving their fitness objectives. As well, she enjoys working as a strength coach for elite athletic sports teams.

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