Posted in General Fitness by Rogue Fitness on 21 November 2016

Problems, worry and emotional strain all contribute to your stress levels, and believe me this can become noticeable in more ways than one.

Have you ever noticed a stubborn bulge around your mid-section that wasn’t there before periods of stress? If so, stress could be one of the culprits.

Stress plays a scientifically proven role in weight gain. Whilst it can inhibit appetite in the immediate sense, long-term "chronic" stress actually boosts your hunger and the desire to eat, especially high fat and sugary foods.

Many people become overeaters when they feel a lot of pressure or stress. This happens because of a phenomena called the fight-or-flight response. Once the body reaches a certain level of stress, all rational thinking around making healthy choices can dissolve into the chaos and trauma, in most cases people turn to over-eating, this is largely rooted in both biochemical processes and the need for comfort.

Without getting into a huge chemistry lecture the easy explanation for this is that your body thinks you’ve used extra calories to deal with your stress, even though you haven’t, so the cycle or desire to eat is accelerated.

Also, levels of "the stress hormone," cortisol, rises in the body during tension-filled times. This can turn your overeating into a habitual behaviour. Increased levels of cortisol also causes higher insulin levels, as a result blood sugar drops and you start to crave sugary and fatty foods.

So instead of a salad you’re more likely to reach for a biscuit or a piece of cake. This is actually why we refer to these foods as “comfort foods.”

It’s been long recognised in the world of nutrition that the body releases chemicals in response to food that might have a direct calming effect, fatty and sugary foods tend to be the big culprits. Combine this with the ramped up desire to eat… You have a recipe for weight gain!

What to do to minimize stress and maintain your weight.

1. Exercise

This is a great way to relieve stress and burn calories. When you exercise, hormones are released that can counteract the stress hormones and make you feel better. They can also help to control insulin and blood sugar levels, which can serve to repress the appetite and stop cravings.

2. Eat a balanced diet

A diet rich in a variety of foods from all food groups is the best way to keep your body and mind healthy.

3. Don’t skip meals

Eating regular meals that contain complex carbohydrates is the best way to keep blood sugar levels constant, minimize cravings and avoid weight gain. Try to eat small frequent meals rather than less large ones and choose low GI foods for the best blood sugar control.

4. Relax

Taking time to relax and do something for you is the best way to beat stress. So no matter how hectic your life gets always make time to do something you enjoy that distracts you from your everyday life. This time to unwind will help you gain perspective and make you less likely to turn to food for comfort.

5. Choose high fibre nutritious snacks

By snacking on nutritious, high fibre foods, you can curb those carb cravings without turning to unhealthy fattening foods. Fruit, wholegrain cereal or toast make great options that also provides nutrition.

6. Supplement vitamins

It is thought that stress can lead to depletion of some vitamins in the body, particularly if you are frequently missing meals, which leaves you at risk of deficiencies. Vitamins B and C and calcium and magnesium are the most at risk. A good multi-vitamin can help to restore the balance and keep you healthy despite the stress.

7. Avoid things that can increase stress

Caffeine, alcohol and smoking are all thought to lead to increased stress levels and cause a rise in cortisol. This produces the drop in blood sugar which leads to hunger and cravings and possible overeating, so avoid these substances if you are feeling stressed out.

8. Eat enough calories

It has been found that those who deprive themselves of too many calories in an effort to lose weight can induce a biochemical response in the body that in fact leads to increased hunger and stress levels. Extreme dieting is not the answer to stress related weight gain, instead follow a healthy, balanced diet and incorporate some exercise into your daily life.

If you would like to have a chat about your health and fitness goals simply register online for a complimentary consultation or call us on 021 4777538