Let’s define stress first. Most people only think of psychological stress when they hear the term “stress”. Things like family or job issues, or traffic or money worries. Yes, these can certainly be stressful. There are also less obvious stressors and what I call “hidden” stressors that have the same physiological effect on the body.
Here are my TOP TEN HIDDEN STRESSORS that can affect our weight
- Sleep deprivation
- Digestive issues
- Nutrient depletion
- Chronic pain
- Environmental Toxins
- Hormonal imbalance
- Chronic infection
Chronic stress affects disrupts the daily cortisol rhythm. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is responsible for a wide range of processes within the body including immune responses, the regulation of metabolism, and acting as an anti-inflammatory. It also plays an important role in the way in which the body responds to stress.
Cortisol levels are generally high in the morning as we wake from a prolonged period of sleep, with an increase of up to fifty percent in the twenty to thirty minutes after waking. This is known as the ‘cortisol awakening response’. Then, as the day progresses, our cortisol levels naturally begin to drop in a fairly constant and regular fashion that is termed a diurnal rhythm, ending up as low in the late evening. This allows the body to keep a regular sleeping pattern, with the cortisol level dropping for periods of sleep, then replenishing during the following morning.
When cortisol is out of balance, the body thinks it is being attacked and will conserve energy as much as possible. So stress has the following effects on the body which all contribute to weight gain.
- increased blood sugar
- increased storage of fat
- increased hunger
- increased belly fat to store as energy
- increased fatty acids and triglycerides in your blood
- increased cravings for quick energy foods (sugar)
- decreased immune function
- decreased fat burning (to conserve energy)
- decreased cell sensitivity to insulin so sugar stays in your blood stream
- decreased digestive function
So now you know why stress is fattening!