Stress is an incredibly important piece to the weight loss-puzzle. Cortisol, the high stress hormone, has been linked to weight-gain around the midsection. Cortisol affects blood sugar balance, and we know that people with irregular blood sugar balance, are more prone to gaining weight. Very simply, cortisol has been shown to lower the conversion of our hormones T4 to T3, which is your active thyroid hormone. Your thyroid is your driver of metabolism and driver of burning energy (burning your food for energy). Another issue is that stress affects sleep, and less sleep has also been associated with weight gain. This is why it’s important we address stress!
It breaks my heart when women walk into my office or write to me via the blog saying, “I am doing all the right things, Jess. I’m eating well, exercising daily, and I’ve given up processed food – but my weight still isn’t going down! Why?” My mind immediately goes to stress. How stressed are they? While digestion and liver health play a role in weight, usually it’s high stress levels keeping them from reaching their optimal and healthy weight. And they don’t even know it.
From a physical perspective, high cortisol levels are linked to lower thyroid function as well as weight gain, especially around the stomach area. Cortisol also throws off our blood sugar levels, which triggers cravings and overeating. Ever wondered why you eat more when you’re stressed? Or crave chocolate? This is why. Some people lose their appetite when they’re stressed, but then tend to overeat later when their appetite returns. On the other hand, low cortisol levels occur when your stress levels have been high for so long and then crash – aka adrenal fatigue. This can also make it harder to lose weight, as your energy levels are lower (who has motivation to exercise then?!) and you start to crave sugar. Low cortisol can also impact healthy thyroid function.
So how can you combat high stress levels to find weight balance?
One simple change = Give up the diets and focus on eating wholesome, nourishing foods.
From an emotional point of view, it is my belief that when we worry and stress about our weight – like so many women and men do – we are more likely to gain weight. Waking up and worrying about the number on the scale can spike our cortisol levels. I have noticed that during periods where I worry about my weight more (about every tiny kilo!), my weight seems to go up. It is quite interesting. When I let go and relax with it – my body feels lighter.
Choose the wholefood life by incorporating all the right foods in your diet – lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, organic and sustainably sourced meats and dairy (if that works for your body!), gluten-free or whole grains – drinking lots of filtered water and herbal teas, committing to enjoyable movement/exercise several times a week but also ensuring you give your body time to rest. If you treat your body right, it will respond with greater energy, better sleep and a balanced weight!
Make reducing your stress and treating your body with love a priority this week and see how much better you feel.
I hope this helps – please let me know how you go xx
I want to empower you to make good choices, every day. I want you to enhance your understanding of health and nutrition. I'm committed to making sure you live the best life. Because you deserve it. Are you ready to start feeling great?
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