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Monday, June 18, 2012

Getting Stressed About Weight Loss?

Stress is one of the factors that influence how much and what type of food we eat. When we are dealing with stress, be it mental, emotional or physical, cortisol ("the stress hormone") is released from the adrenal glands. This hormone belongs to the group of hormones called Glucocorticoids. These hormones have the ability to raise the level of blood sugar (glucose).

Although cortisol has a beneficial function in the body, high levels caused by chronic stress could put your health at a risk.

Increased cortisol levels are linked to weight gain in many different ways:

1. By slowing down your metabolism so if you are trying to lose weight, high cortisol levels can make your diet very difficult

2. High cortisol levels can contribute to greater levels of abdominal fat which is not only undesirable but also can cause some serious health issues - coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure etc.

3. Altered sugar levels this can lead to fatigue, mood swings or even hyperglycemia

4. Cravings People experiencing stress tend to crave foods high in sugar or salt with a high fat content. This includes sweets, chocolate, processed foods etc. These foods are high in energy and although they can make you feel better in the short term, you may regret it later!

There are other reasons why stress and obesity are linked together:

1. Too busy to cook healthy meals

2. Too busy to exercise

Are there any strategies on how to minimize stressful situations?

1. Bring calm to your life relaxing music, breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, pilates - these are all relaxation techniques with stress-relieving powers Choose a relaxation technique that appeals to you and incorporate this into your daily routine for about 20 minutes each day. Try this for a month and see if you feel any difference.

2. Eat the right food by eating the right foods and snacks, you will keep your sugar levels in check. If you are under a lot of stress, your body needs more nutrients to keep your energy levels up. Vitamin C is very important during stressful times and the lack of vitamin C causes your energy levels to drop, you become tired and listless. Aim for natural sources such as fruit and veg.

3. Exercise regularly exercise boosts your feel-good endorphins and improves your mood. Regular exercise also increases your self-confidence and improves your sleep. If your stress levels are too high, don't add more with a high intensity workout. You won't be able to fight stress with more stress. Instead go for a light intensity cardio such as walking.

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