Stress could be the underlying answer you’ve been looking for
Feeling tired and sluggish? Do you keep gaining weight despite eating clean? Are you always hungry and craving sugar? These signs may indicate that your cortisol levels are too high.
When you’re stressed, your body releases more cortisol. Prolonged or extreme dieting, poor sleep, and overtraining have the same effect. Over time, elevated cortisol levels affect your metabolism and overall health.
The hidden link between stress and weight gain
Stress and weight gain are strongly connected. Cortisol, the stress hormone, wreaks havoc on your metabolism and body composition. Under normal conditions, the adrenal glands release this hormone to protect you from danger. Your body enters the fight-or-flight mode, so you become more alert. It’s a natural survival mechanism.
Prolonged stress, on the other hand, messes up your hormones and weakens immune function. When your cortisol levels stay high for weeks, you may experience a myriad of side effects:
• Chronic fatigue
• Weight gain
• Sluggish metabolism
• Reduced mental focus
• Anxiety and depression
• High blood pressure
• Increased heart disease risk
• Insulin resistance
• Low testosterone
• Poor sleep
• Muscle loss
• Decreased athletic performance
• Increased appetite
• Digestive distress
• Recurring infections
Over time, chronic stress contributes to heart disease, metabolic syndrome, mental disorders, and even cancer.
Get your cortisol levels under control
Today’s hectic lifestyle makes it hard to avoid stress. Fortunately, there are ways to offset its harmful impact on your health. Relaxation techniques, such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation, can lower cortisol levels and boost immunity.
Regular exercise increases dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, which helps lift your mood. It’s also a great way to unwind and relieve stress. Just make sure you get enough rest between training sessions. Working out too much or for too long will have the opposite effect.
You may also use adaptogen herbs to keep stress under control. Holy basil, licorice root, ginseng, and ashwagandha can naturally lower your cortisol levels and restore emotional balance.
Try to squeeze more sleep into your schedule. If you’re skimping on sleep, your stress levels increase.
Also, watch your diet. High-sugar foods affect your hormones and promote weight gain. Load up on stress-busting foods, such as berries, dark chocolate, fatty fish, nuts, and leafy green vegetables. One last tip is please steer clear of fad diets as they raise cortisol levels in the body.
If you’re looking for more support and help on managing your stress and weight loss, get in touch with our online nutritional coach. Sign up for free here, you’ll also get access to great recipes and meal plan!