When you think of stress, you first think of the mental pressure of having to deal with the issues that are bothering you. Stress affects your body and mind and consequently your work life and otherwise. To make things worse, stress majorly affects your weight!
Stressors like lack of sleep, high-calorie foods, pollution, and negative situations can impact the fat-burning mechanism in your body and lead to weight gain, irrespective of how much you exercise or diet. To keep stress and bay and keep yourself fit and healthy, know about these 6 types of stress and how to deal with them.
1. Psychological Stress
Certain situations lead to mental strain, which can evoke emotions like frustration, anxiety, anger, or sadness. These reactions pop up when you feel that you are incapable of handling a situation, like the death of a loved one or a financial crisis.
Negative emotions can drag you down and reduce your energy levels. To help you deal with the stressful situation, your body releases cortisol, the stress hormone. With the rise in cortisol levels, your appetite increases, your body’s ability to burn fat reduces, and more fat gets stored in the body. All these factors contribute to weight gain and increased abdominal fat.1
To reduce psychological stress, meditate to gain control over your mind and body. This reduces stress, which reduces cortisol levels, which then has a positive effect on your body weight.
2. Sleep Deprivation Stress
Sleep is essential for your health and well-being. Ever noticed how grumpy and irritable you can get when you haven’t had enough sleep? These mood changes affect the way you deal with challenges on a day-to-day basis. Imagine a bad mood paired with a difficult situation! It can be one of the most stressful things ever.
Sleeping less makes you hungry even when your body doesn’t need food. Lack of sleep alters the ghrelin and leptin levels – two hormones responsible for controlling appetite and satiety.2 With this, you will find yourself binging on high-calorie food late in the night. To make things worse, you tend to depend on high-sugar or caffeinated drinks to help you get through the day.3 So, slip into bed early and keep your phone away to get at least 8 hours of sleep.
3. Chemical Stress
On an everyday basis, your body is exposed to a wide range of chemicals via pollution, heavy metals, and foods full of additives and preservatives. The consumption, inhalation, or absorption of these chemicals can lead to stress in your body.
Studies suggest that these toxins can lead to weight gain by altering your appetite, affecting glucose metabolism, and inducing inflammation.4 5 To avoid chemical stress, follow a healthy diet with organic, raw, whole foods and protect your skin from the harmful pollutants and sprays.
4. Diet Stress
Starving, reducing carb intake, eating only 3 meals a day, or eating only a particular food type can put stress on your body. You may feel that a strict diet would help you lose weight and become healthy, but it can adversely affect not just your body but your mind as well. Feeling irritated on having to avoid that craving for a single piece of cake is just the beginning of a range of mood swings.
Making such dietary changes also affects your metabolism. Studies show that low-calorie dieting can lead to increased cortisol, resulting in weight gain.6 One type of diet cannot suit everyone. Instead, eat according to your body’s needs and metabolism to lose weight, regulate your mood and prevent stress.
5. Physical Stress
Exercise and any kind of physical activity make you feel better due to the release of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones.7 However, exercising too much or indulging in a physical activity beyond your body’s ability to withstand it can lead to stress.
Similar to psychological stress, your body helps you cope with physical stress by increasing cortisol production, which can lead to weight gain. So, whether you love exercising or your job requires a lot of physical activity, ensure that you give your body the rest that it needs and allow it to recover from the stress.
6. Inflammation-Induced Stress
Inflammation occurs when your body senses a foreign substance and works toward protecting you from it. Unfortunately, the food you eat plays a role in triggering inflammation. Processed meat, refined carbs like white bread, sugary beverages, and red meat lead to oxidative stress and inflammation. Oxidative stress leads to insulin resistance, which reduces the body’s ability to burn fat, thereby affecting your weight. And in the state of oxidative stress, your body is unable to counteract the damage caused by free radicals.
Eat more fruits and vegetables to lower the oxidative stress and inflammation, thanks to their antioxidant properties.8Also, choose whole grains over processed grains as the refining process takes away the essential nutrients from it. Furthermore, sugars and refined starches can alter blood sugar and insulin levels and promote the production of free radicals.
Stress can be of different kinds and due to various factors. However, one common factor in all these types is your food intake. No matter the stress level, eat right and healthy and see the difference it makes to your weight and health.
|↑1||Aronson, Dina. “Cortisol—its role in stress, inflammation, and indications for diet therapy.” Today’s Dietitian 11 (2009): 38.|
|↑2||Prinz, Patricia. “Sleep, appetite, and obesity—what is the link?.” PLoS medicine 1, no. 3 (2004): e61.|
|↑3||Greer, Stephanie M., Andrea N. Goldstein, and Matthew P. Walker. “The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain.” Nature communications 4 (2013): 2259.|
|↑4||Baillie-Hamilton, Paula F. “Chemical toxins: a hypothesis to explain the global obesity epidemic.” The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine 8, no. 2 (2002): 185-192.|
|↑5||Hyman, Mark A. “Environmental toxins, obesity, and diabetes: an emerging risk factor.” Alternative therapies in health and medicine 16, no. 2 (2010): 56.|
|↑6||Tomiyama, A. Janet, Traci Mann, Danielle Vinas, Jeffrey M. Hunger, Jill DeJager, and Shelley E. Taylor. “Low calorie dieting increases cortisol.” Psychosomatic medicine 72, no. 4 (2010): 357.|
|↑7||Physical Activity Reduces Stress. Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).|
|↑8||Kiecolt-Glaser, Janice K. “Stress, food, and inflammation: psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition at the cutting edge.” Psychosomatic Medicine 72, no. 4 (2010): 365.|