Most people admit that when they’re under stress, healthy eating habits can be difficult to maintain. Whether eating to fill an emotional need or grabbing fast food simply because there’s no time to prepare something healthy, a stressed-out lifestyle is rarely a healthy one. But weight gain when under stress may also be at least partly due to the body’s system of hormonal checks and balances, which can actually promote weight gain when you’re stressed out, according to some researchers.
Cortisol is a critical hormone with many actions in the body. Normally, cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands in a pattern called a diurnal variation, meaning that levels of cortisol in the bloodstream vary depending upon the time of day (normally, cortisol levels are highest in the early morning and lowest around midnight). Cortisol is important for the maintenance of blood pressure as well as the provision of energy for the body. Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy, and stimulates insulin release and maintenance of blood sugar levels. The end result of these actions can be an increase in appetite and can cause cravings for sweet, high-fat, and salty foods. With elevated cortisol levels, the body also produces less testosterone, leading to a decrease in muscle mass. With less testosterone to build muscle mass; your body starts to burn fewer calories.
Cortisol has been termed the “stress hormone” because excess cortisol is secreted during times of physical or psychological stress, and the normal pattern of cortisol secretion (with levels highest in the early morning and lowest at night) can be altered. This disruption of cortisol secretion may not only promote weight gain, but it can also affect where you put on the weight in the body. Some studies have shown that stress and elevated cortisol tend to cause fat deposition in the abdominal area rather than in the hips. This fat deposition has been referred to as “toxic fat” since abdominal fat deposition is strongly correlated with the development of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.
No independent studies published in respected, peer-reviewed medical journals have shown that any supplements have any value in cortisol reduction or weight loss. In fact, exercise is the best method for lowering cortisol levels that have risen in response to stress and has the added benefit of burning calories to stimulate weight loss. Practices such as meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques can also be used to keep cortisol levels in check.
In short, when you are stressed out your brain tells your adrenal gland to release the stress hormone cortisol. … Over the long term, chronically high cortisol levels lead to a series of changes in the body that make you gain belly fat.
Carrying weight around your gut (aka “love handles”) is worse than fat around your hips or thighs and this is in part due to insulin resistance.
It is also indicative of an imbalance in cortisol levels. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone, which, if chronically high, can result in increased fat around the gut. Feeling stressed out or depressed about this may even worsen the problem by promoting overeating, particularly of refined carbs.
As mentioned before, cortisol secretion varies among individuals. People are biologically ‘wired’ to react differently to stress. One person may secrete higher levels of cortisol than another in the same situation. And this tendency can change at different times in a person’s life. Studies have also shown that people who secrete higher levels of cortisol in response to stress also tend to eat more food and food that is higher in carbohydrates than people who secrete less cortisol. If you’re more sensitive to stress, it’s especially important for you to learn stress management techniques and maintain a low-stress lifestyle, this is a great way to get cortisol secretion under control and maintain a healthy lifestyle at the same time.
I will be sharing a cortisol reducing workout and tips out during my 60 day BeachBody Challenge via my app. You can do the workout anywhere in the world just follow the video. For more information: http://www.khadijak.com/shop/gym-packages/60daysummer/
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