I read an article recently about the correlation between the obesity rate in the US and the excessive stress society endures on a daily basis. It peaked my interest as we frequently discuss stress levels with our patients and clients. When working with a nutrition patient and weight loss is the goal, I focus on the dietary changes that can be made to improve the quality of food choices. Perhaps I need to have a little more focus on stress management and what we can do to keep the “emotional” pounds off. Here’s a little peak into how stress can affect your weight…
Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” is the biggest culprit for weight gain related to stress. It plays a role in many body functions. Receptors for the hormone can be found in most of our body’s cells. Blood sugar levels, inflammatory levels, and fluid retention are all affected by changes in cortisol levels, as well as some other areas. Here are two ways our stress causes the number on the scale to increase:
How are blood sugar levels affected? Typically stress suppresses the appetite. Have you ever been in a car accident? After the sudden shock and stress of the situation, your next meal is not typically your first concern. “Chronic” stress, however, has been proven to increase the appetite. Insulin levels increase with long-term elevated cortisol levels. Insulin reduces blood sugar levels and stimulates hunger, especially for sugary or fatty foods. This often results in overeating or making generally poor food choices… the end result: weight gain.
How are fluid levels affected? There is a balance that must be maintained between water and sodium levels within the body. As our cortisol levels increase, another hormone, Aldosterone, is also affected. Aldosterone sends a signal to the kidneys to retain salt. In order to maintain that water-sodium balance, the body then retains water. This results in swelling, bloating, and a general puffiness in the body. This also increases the number on the scale and how your clothes fit.
So if you feel like you’re gaining weight or you’re doing everything you can to lose weight, but it’s not happening… look in the mirror and evaluate your stress levels. They just might be the culprit! All of our services at Body Logic- massage, chiropractic, and nutritional counseling, are designed to help reduce stress levels. Give us a call- we’re here to help you move better, feel better, and live better!