Stress can be Fattening, study finds
Studies of mice and monkeys show that repeated stress -- and a high-fat, high-sugar diet -- release a hormone, neuropeptide Y, that causes a buildup of abdominal fat, researchers from Georgetown University reported. Manipulating levels of that hormone could melt fat from areas where it is not desired and accumulate it where it is needed.Even if you usually eat healthfully and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight or even add pounds,
What happens: Your body responds to all stress: physical or psychological in exactly the same way. So every time you have a stressful day, your brain acts as though you are in physical danger and instructs your cells to release potent hormones. You get a burst of adrenaline, which taps stored energy for a fight, flee, freeze, fake it, fumble, stumble or mumble response (Fun is also part of this response but has more PNS foundation to it so the mixture of stimulation SNS and calming PNS helps maintain energetic and emotional balance)
At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven't used very many calories in your stressed-out state. This can make you hungry... very hungry. And your body keeps on pumping out that cortisol as long as the stress continues.
Sadly, few of us reach for celery or carrot sticks in these situations. "Instead, we crave sweet, salty, and high-fat foods because they stimulate the brain to release pleasure chemicals that actually do reduce tension," explains Elissa Epel, PhD, a researcher on stress eating at the University of California, San Francisco. This soothing effect becomes addictive, so every time you're anxious, you reach for fattening foods.
One way stress Increases Body Fat
With your adrenal glands pumping out cortisol, production of the muscle-building hormone testosterone slows down. Over time, this drop causes a decrease in your muscle mass, so you burn fewer calories and usually eat more calories from fat. Calories from fat require more exercise, putting you on a revolving door of needing more exercise and probably doing less exercise as the weight increases.
You can greatly assist your cortisol levels and your weight being under control, and improve your overall health at the same time in eight meaningful ways.
1. It’s an ancient adage that when you control your breathing and you control your life. Do you ever have an absolutely hellish day? Given enough time to practice the proper breathing exercises as "preparation for battle" and you can train yourself to "walk calmly through the gates of hell".
Your breathing really does control much of your stress response IF you first develop it properly and train it to react spontaneously and occasionally as well, will or guide it to “maintain courage under fire”.
Long, purposefully shallow but still tolerable breathing rates and depths will offset the tendency towards high chest breathing and hyperventilation or over-breathing and will also develop the breathing so that when excitement DOES occur one has the ability to maintain balance. Over breathing is a bit misleading as it implies one can breathe too much. But breath is life isn't it? The key is HOW we breathe, not how much.
It MUST be abdominally based. The stronger the base the more we can tolerate (and breathe). See our program
Physical conditioning also helps a lot but many in seemingly great condition drop dead after passing a cardiac stress test. The key to me is how strong the breathing foundation is. If your body is like an office building with a basement, and here comes a hurricane (stress), then how deep, strong and durable is your basement (foundation)? The basement is support center for the calming aspect of your nervous system called the parasympathetic. Many miss-label it as the "rest and digest" versus "fight or flight" of the sympathetic nervous system" aspect of the autonomic nervous system. "Rest and digest" relegates it to a few relevant but inadequate words that have too little connection to its real importance which is the actual foundation of our very body-centered strength of being and doing.
Simply stated, the bigger, stronger, your PNS becomes, the more stress you can tolerate. Exercise can greatly help but exercise with a weak breathing foundation (or basement) will eventually turn to DIS- stress. Start with the Squeeze and Breathe Exercise in the Optimal Breathing Kit 176 Video and you get a temporary experience of the foundation. Then do the other Optimal Breathing Development Exercises that further develop this "basement".
2. Go Slowly at Meals
Under stress, we tend to wolf down even healthy food. In fact, research has linked this behavior to bigger portions and more belly fat. Slow down, savor each bite, and pay attention to feelings of fullness. This may lower your cortisol levels along with decreasing the amount of food you eat
3. Strict Dieting
Research shows that constant dieting can make cortisol levels rise as much as 18%. When your cortisol levels spike, your blood sugar roller coasters .. This makes you cranky and hungry. When your brain is deprived of sugar, its main fuel self-control takes a nosedive, and your willpower doesn't stand a chance. High protein meals can help but they tend to foster acidity over time. Balance is key and your body and life style will dictate that .. More fresh veggies and sprouted seeds, nuts and beans seem to be the best route for alkalinity but type O blood people may need more high density protein.
4. Give In to Cravings a Little
Stop rigid dieting. When stress drives you toward something sweet or salty, it's okay to yield a little. It's much better to indulge a little and cut off your cortisol response before it gets out of control. Have a piece of fresh fruit, a few E3live capsules or even dark chocolate. You will feel better. Just stop at one. If you have trouble restraining yourself, take precautions so you won't binge. Do not keep sweet foods at home. Force yourself to go to the store if you must have a sweet snack!
Next time you're under duress, choose decaf. Take a shot of E3live liquid. Many have gotten rid of their habit of 8 cups of coffee a day with an ounce of prevention from one of natures wonder foods.
When you combine stress with caffeine, it raises cortisol levels more than stress alone. In one study by the University of Oklahoma, consuming the equivalent of 2 1/2 to 3 cups of coffee while under mild stress boosted cortisol by about 25%and kept it up for 3 hours. When subjects took 600 mg of caffeine (the equivalent of 6 cups of coffee) throughout the day, the hormone level went up by 30% and stayed high all day long. You'll experience these effects even if your body is accustomed to a lot of lattes. And because high cortisol levels can contribute to stress eating, quitting caffeine altogether may be the right answer for you.
6. Power Up Breakfast
Deficiencies in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium are stressful to your body. And these deficiencies lead to increased cortisol levels and food cravings. But you can fight back by eating a breakfast that's high in these nutrients. Try a protein smoothie with fresh spinach with a full spectrum vitamin powder – it should contains calcium and magnesium and whole sprouted grains bursting with B vitamins, while raw almond butter and avocado contain essential fatty acids that can decrease the production of stress hormones.
7. Exercise or not?
Though exercising is critical to energy increase and stamina, do not depend on exercise to maintain weight. That is fools game and what the food industry would like you to believe so you eat more and they make more money. Calories from fat are the key to weight control.
8. Sleep It Off
The most effective stress-reduction strategy of all: Get enough shut-eye. Your body perceives sleep deprivation as a major stressor. A University of Chicago study found that getting an average of 6 1/2 hours each night can increase cortisol, appetite, and weight gain. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours. As if that weren't enough, other research shows that lack of sleep also raises levels of ghrelin, a hunger-boosting hormone. In one study, appetite particularly for sweet and salty foods increased by 23% in people who lacked sleep. The good news: A few nights of solid sleep can bring all this back into balance, and getting enough regularly helps keep it there. You'll eat less, and you'll feel better. Us the Reflex triggering exercises in the 176 video included in the Optimal Breathing Kit.