The Stress Impact on Fat Gain
Eating too much garbage food, not exercising enough, drinking too many sweet or alcoholic drinks – all things that are commonly attributed to weight gain, and the inability to lose fat.
What about stress?
Stress plays a significant role in weight gain and fat storage. A recent study out of UC San Francisco is the first to demonstrate that highly stressed people who eat a lot of high-fat, high-sugar food are more prone to health risks than low-stress people who eat the same amount of unhealthy food. The health risks of note were:
- Higher Blood Sugar
- Higher Blood Pressure
- Higher amounts of abdominal fat
- Higher cholesterol levels
High stress caused an increase in a biomarker, Neuropeptide Y (NPY). Higher levels of NPY (along with cortisol) in combination with junk food, creates larger abdominal fat cells (1). Not to say that eating junk food while stress free is okay if your goal is weight loss, however negative results will be compounded and any type of progress can be slowed. This can even be the case if you start eating healthy, but still have your stressors present in your life.
Even obsessing over eating healthy and meticulously measuring every little grain out and gram of food and be a stressor on the body, thus blunting some results after prolonged periods of stress!
How do we eliminate chronic stress?
- Sleep more. Find the time to try and get more sleep. Even an extra 30 minutes a night can help. Put down the iPad, cell phone, turn off the TV, and pick up a book to help you sleep better.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Some things in life we just can’t control. Learning to take a step back and ask yourself, “Why am I getting so upset about this?” is one of the best things you can do.
- Treat yourself. A spa day, massage, or relaxing bath can really help you unwind. Go for a long walk in a nature setting. Listen to calming music. Watch a funny movie or go to the comedy club. Laughter is a great de-stressor!
- Write about it or talk about it. Getting your feelings out helps greatly. Talking with a friend, family member, or professional may be just what you need to decrease stress on so many levels.