The Effects of Stress on Weight Loss!

The effects of stress on weight loss can be quite dramatic! High stress, which raises cortisol levels in your body, stops your body from burning fat and losing weight through several mechanisms.

It seems that we experience some degree of stress almost every day of our life. Work, family, relationships, financial, and even travel can cause us varying levels of stress at certain times.

Since stress appears to be a constant in our lives, it is important to be aware of the effects of stress on our ability to lose weight and keep it off.

Effects of Stress on Weight Loss

Even though the stresses that our ancestors experienced many years ago are vastly different to what we experience today, our bodies respond in exactly the same way. Plus, different types of stress (i.e. physical, psychological and emotional) all invoke the same response, which is an increase in the output of stress hormones, primarily cortisol.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the outer portion of the adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys. It has the effect of increasing the blood sugar level, suppressing the immune system and aiding in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism. It prepares the body for action; it's the 'fight or flight' hormone.

Unfortunately though, there is a strong correlation between cortisol and obesity and there are several mechanisms through which cortisol may cause you to put on weight as well as stop you from losing weight.

Here are the Effects of Stress on Weight Loss

Increases blood sugar level

Cortisol blocks the absorption of glucose into cells and also promotes the production and release of glucose from the liver, which come from amino acids that have been liberated from muscle tissue.

Prolonged cortisol production leads to constantly elevated blood sugar levels, which in turn, causes insulin levels to rise. Since insulin stops the mobilisation and utilisation of fat as a fuel source as well as promoting fat storage, losing weight becomes difficult. Furthermore, prolonged insulin levels leads to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is strongly correlated with obesity.

Increases muscle loss

Cortisol is the most 'catabolic' hormone in the body, which means it promotes the breakdown of body tissues, including muscle. Since muscle is one of the most metabolically-active tissues in the body a loss of muscle results in a depression of the metabolic rate, which makes fat burning and weight loss more difficult.

Increases fluid retention

Cortisol has a similar (but weaker) effect to aldosterone on the kidneys. This means it causes the retention of sodium and water along with the release of potassium. The increased water retention in the body may lead to weight gain even though the additional weight is only water and is not due to fat accumulation.

Negatively affects sleep

Cortisol is often referred to as the 'anti-sleep hormone'. This is one of the major effects of stress. Under normal circumstances, cortisol peaks early in the morning just prior to waking; it gives us the necessary 'jolt' to wake us up and get us moving. Then, as the day progresses, it tends to taper off and reaches its lowest point in the evening just before and during the first part of the sleep cycle.

People with insomnia have been shown to have high levels of cortisol in the evening, which affects their ability to sleep. Stressful events during the day may also cause high levels of cortisol in the blood stream in the evening, which negatively affects sleep.

Poor sleeping habits, as one of the effects of stress, are strongly associated with weight gain for several reasons. During sleep the body goes through the processes of repair, recuperation, recovery and rebuilding of body tissues. If sleep is impaired then this process cannot occur as effectively as it should and therefore the body's ability to rebuild lean tissues, like muscle tissue, is negatively affected. This has a negative effect on the body's metabolism and fat-burning ability.

Also, since growth hormone, our body's most powerful lipolytic (fat burning) hormone, gets produced mostly at night during deep sleep, if our sleep habits are impaired due to high cortisol levels, the body's production of this hormone also gets impaired as does our ability to burn off body fat effectively.

Affects thyroid hormone production

Cortisol has the effect of increasing the conversion of T4 (thyroxine) into rT3 (reverse tri-iodothyronine) instead of T3 (tri-iodothyronine). T3 is the most active thyroid hormone and is responsible for controlling the metabolism of all body cells whilst rT3 is the 'brake' that blocks the T3 receptors on cell membranes. Having higher rT3 compared to T3 slows the metabolism down, causes thyroid problems and makes weight gain more likely.

Lowers anabolic hormones (i.e. testosterone)

The body's production of cortisol and testosterone relies on the same precursor hormone, pregnenolone. Therefore, if the level of one hormone in the body is high, the other is low. Since testosterone is a powerful anabolic hormone, which helps to maintain and build lean tissue, it can have a dramatic effect on a person's metabolism and therefore their ability to burn fat and lose weight.

By the same token, if cortisol is high, testosterone will be low and so will the ability to maintain and/ or build muscle. This will make fat storage and weight gain more likely.

Increases appetite

Appetite is primarily controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain. It responds to a variety of stimuli, particularly a group of steroid hormones known as 'glucocorticoids'. Cortisol is one of the most powerful glucocorticoids and therefore has a stimulatory effect on a person's appetite. An increase in appetite often results in an increase in food intake and resultant weight gain or inability to lose weight. Therefore lowering cortisol may help to lower appetite.

How to Lower Cortisol (and Stress) Levels Effectively

Due to the various effects of stress mentioned here, high cortisol (stress) makes it very easy to put on weight (including fat) and very difficult to lose it. However, high cortisol (and stress) levels may be lowered effectively by relaxation techniques, meditation and breathing exercises. In today's society though, we are often too busy (and stressed!) to take the time to perform these exercises. It is sometimes easier to simply take a supplement!

BCN's Rhodiola Advanced is a powerful stress-relieving herb that has been shown to lower the effects of stress quickly and easily. It has been used in Russia and Scandinavia for decades! Also, Rhodiola Advanced has standardised levels of active ingredients to ensure you get maximum benefits from the product.

If you are suffering from high levels of stress in your life then BCN's Rhodiola Advanced may be just what you need to reduce the effects of stress in your body and start losing weight!

Click here to get BCN's Rhodiola Advanced

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