Personifying anxiety and stress may seem strange and off the mark, but allow me say that these two states of the mind have a perfect way of making you gain weight and excess fat.
How the brain responds to stress
Physiologically, the brain responds similarly to all types of stress. In such situations, two major hormones are produced – adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline is the hormone that prepares the body for fight, and flight and is also produced during moments of fright. A burst of adrenaline rapidly depletes stored energy to prepare you to handle any impending danger.
Cortisol, on the other hand, is a hormone that instructs the body to replenish the energy stores even when eating is not necessary.
Effects of stress hormones on body fat
As your stress continues, your body keeps on generating more cortisol and you keep on pumping food into your stomach.
In this way, you take in more calories than you can take out.
Cortisol also encourages the storage of excess glucose in the body as fat. The fat is mainly deposited around the visceral organs of the abdomen.
Visceral fat is more dangerous than abdominal fat because it can potentially lead to serious diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and insulin resistance. It can also damage the liver when fat deposits in the liver – a condition called liver steatosis.
In this life with constant fear, trouble and woe, avoiding stress may seem difficult. In one way or another, you may get yourself stressed up about issues some of which you don’t even have control over.
Despite all these, you can beat your stress levels by doing the following:
- Exercise regularly
Since body activity is reduced during stress, doing a little work out will help reduce your cortisol levels and help manage your pain.
It can get as simple as you dropping down and doing press-ups or push-ups for a few minutes. You can also take a stroll or jog around for some time.
Body activity increases your blood flow and transport the cortisol in blood to the kidney where they are rapidly eliminated.
Muscle exercise also increases the metabolism of excess fat in your body hence lowering the levels of stress fat deposited by cortisol.
- Watch on the frequency and what you eat
Cortisol mediates a tremendous increase in appetite prompting people to eat a lot of unnecessary foods.
You can train yourself to avoid high caloric foods and consume only proteins if you must. You can also talk to your health instructor to help handle the cravings to eat during stress.
- Engage in more rewarding activities – better than sitting around and eating
Taking a walk, riding a bike or talking to a friend, are better ways to curb stress. These activities do not add to your body weight.
Some of them actually reduce your body fat since they are exercise oriented. When you are stressed you may not see the need to indulge in these activities – especially when the stress is caused by strict deadlines.
Nevertheless, taking some time out will free your mind and improve your chances of finishing your work on time.
- Get enough sleep
One of the best ways to manage stress fat is to sleep the stress off. Sleep counteracts the levels of cortisol due to the production of the hormone ghrelin which regulates food intake by suppressing hunger, thereby inducing weight loss.
These factors may not individually yield appropriate results, but when used in combination of one to another, the amount of stress fat is reduced significantly.
If your stress is chronic, your cortisol may be incessantly high. As a result, you may have to focus on the aforementioned techniques while monitoring your fat levels for improvements.