Stress and Fat
Does the amount of
stress you have in your life make a difference in terms of fat loss? You may be surprised just how much of a
role stress plays in weight loss - both making it more difficult to lose fat, and making your body store more
fat on your stomach.
by Ed Scow, NSCA-CPT (aka The Fit Dad) -
Fitness and Nutrition Expert to the true superheroes - busy Moms and Dads! and Author of
Fat Loss To
Stress can come
in different packages. Some stress is good, while other types of
stress are bad. Exercise is an example of good
stress. I know it may not seem like it, but to your body it
is. On the flip side, having a new child is an example of good AND bad
I’m not going
to focus on the good stressors here, however. I’m going to focus on the
bad stressors, the things that upset you and tie your stomach in knots and what they can do to your body as well
as ways to help you relieve those stressors.
natural reaction to stress is very simple…fight or
flight. When faced with a
stressor, your body instinctively prepares to fight like your life depended on it or run…well like your life
depended on it. The problem is that most of us have no need to fight or run away when presented with a
stressor. Do you really need to prepare to fight when your baby is crying for hours on
end? Well, I guess sometimes you do feel like running to catch the next flight to some far away
beach, but you don’t.
So when this
“fight or flight” reaction occurs a few things happen. The first thing that
happens is adrenaline floods your system which causes fatty acids to go into your bloodstream for quick
energy. Your breathing becomes rapid and shallow (sometimes you may not notice this), your heart rate
quickens which increases the flow of oxygen to your muscles. Some other things happen
too, like your pupils dilating and some sweating. You may not notice most
of these reactions, but they do happen.
may be necessary if you’re out in the jungle and are being chased by a tiger, but don’t really serve a purpose
if you are stressed because you are stuck in traffic.
natural reactions can, over time, increase your risk of stroke and heart disease due to increased blood flow and
pressure that your blood vessels can’t handle for long periods of time.
Not only that,
but it causes your body to store more belly
fat because it needs to get rid of the unnecessary fatty acids
that poured into your blood stream for that quick boost of energy. In order to rid your system of the fatty
acids, your body releases a hormone called cortisol to store the fatty acids, around your
belly. Lovely, isn’t it?
systems can also be affected in the form of ulcers. Plus your absorption of
nutrients will be hindered.
Constant stress can also give you headaches, back pain and make it hard to
sleep. It also weakens your immune system which will leave you vulnerable to
The good news
is you shouldn’t feel a prisoner to your stress because there are ways to beat it. You just need to figure
out which things work best for you.
For some, exercise is an excellent stress buster. They can step into the
gym and take the stress out on the weights or hit the road and run the stress
beat stress doesn’t have to involve a gym or running, though. It can include things
like yoga, Pilates, or walking with a friend or loved one (which is a double-whammy because you get the social
support in there too).
For others, a
good massage helps to relieve the stress. I have had clients tell
me that the best sleep they get all week is during their massage and the night after their
massage. Plus, massage aids in circulation and helps to lower blood pressure which can help alleviate
stress’s bad effects.
You could also
find a hobby. I have had people tell me that they take their stress out in their
artwork. They can come home, put on some music and paint for hours and they feel totally relaxed
when they are finished.
often gets poked fun of as some “new age” freaky deaky thing that only aging hippies and yogis participate in,
yet it can have a huge effect on your stress levels and overall health. It doesn’t have to be
performed in some yoga studio or Buddhist temple or involve you chanting
be done in your bedroom, office or just about anywhere you can escape the noise that infiltrates your everyday
life. All you have to really do is shut out all the noise, close your eyes begin deep belly
breathing and try to relax.
Do this for 10 minutes a few times per day and I guarantee you you’ll feel your
stress melt away.
A recent study
published in the American Journal of
Hypertension actually showed that meditation alone can drop your
blood pressure 6 points and lower your medication use by up to 23%.
The point is to find something constructive to beat the
stress. Don’t turn to food or drinking alcohol to beat the stress because
that opens a whole new box of worms. Not to mention that if you eat to
beat stress you double your weight problem due to the extra fat storing that happens when you are stressed (as
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The preceding article was written by Ed Scow, aka "The Fit Dad". To learn more about Ed's story, click here.
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