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What affect does stress have on weight loss?

Jan 16, 2018

Question: "What affect does stress have on weight loss?"

Christian Agudelo, ACSM - CPT

Under events of stress, adrenal responses in the body are triggered. This response is known as the fight or flight response. Glycogen in the liver and muscle tissue are activated for use as a quick energy source. Cortisol release under chronic stress can make weight loss difficult for a couple of reasons. High levels of the hormone attack muscle mass, slowing metabolism due to the fact that muscle burns calories to simply exist. Additionally, unwanted cortisol release results in the storage of fat mostly in the abdominal area for later energy use. According to the National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service, other signs of elevated cortisol levels are high blood glucose levels, high blood pressure and fatigue.

Freeing your life from stress may seem like an impossible task, but you can eliminate unwelcome tension by applying a few techniques to your day. Identifying stress triggers in your life is the first step. By finding the cause of your tension, it is easier to gain clarity on how to overcome them. If work is a cause, take five to 10 minutes out of your day to meditate or practice deep breathing techniques to bring your body to a calmer state. Additionally, make time in your schedule for exercise. An exercise plan will decrease the risk of depression and assist in a better night’s sleep, which is a key factor in reducing cortisol release and weight gain.

Earvin Bahena, NSCA - CSCS

Relationships, finances and work are some of the many common triggers of stress. The chemical responses in your body from stress that are triggered can cause weight loss to come to a stop. What exactly happens and how does it affect weight loss? Whenever your body is put under any sort of stress there are adrenal responses (hormonal responses) that are triggered in the body. This response is called “The fight or flight response”, during this response your body uses glycogen from your liver as an energy source. Instead of using the energy source to “run away” this response actually increases fat storage and the impulse to over eat.


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