Every day when talking to customers in our health food stores, I realize that stress is such an issue with women in today’s world and such a deterrent to weight loss….but how does stress affect your weight loss efforts? Aside from weight loss, let it be known that 70% of all doctor’s visits are stress related. Stress contributes to 7 of the top 10 killers in North America. These would include heart disease, cancer and diabetes just to name a few. Additionally, stress causes poor sleep which in turn is a major stress on your body. Cortisol is our stress hormone which is released when your body perceives a stressor. Cortisol is not all bad…it is the hormone of energy and alertness and adapts to stress. It’s when we get too much cortisol that becomes a major problem.
Cortisol is our fight or flight hormone. If you were chased by a predator, you either fought it or you ran like a bat out of hell. Physiologically multiple things happen when your cortisol levels are activated. Blood is shunted away from your gut and pushed into the muscles (so you can run faster). Your pupils dilate (so you can see where you are running) and most importantly, you store fat! Your body doesn’t know how long you will have to run for so it stores fat for future energy. So bottom line, when you are stressed you will not lose weight because your body becomes very efficient at storing fat!
Today, stress (emotional or physical) is almost constant and this can cause a number of issues when it comes to weight loss and health, especially when combined with easy access to unhealthy foods. Cortisol makes cells less responsive to incoming signals. For example; Type II Diabetes is a disease where sufficient insulin is produced, but your body’s cells can’t read the insulin signal. We call this insulin resistance. When insulin remains high as in this case, your body will NOT release fat from its fat cells which traps the fat you have into their cells.
Many good weight loss supplements will add ingredients to address cortisol as well as added fat burners.