Get the Facts on the Stress Hormone that’s Destroying Your Diet
A lack of adequate sleep, alcohol, caffeine, and even skipping one, single meal can all serve to elevate cortisol levels and leave you in a mini meltdown of sorts. Learn how this can lead to weight gain and make dieting difficult.
From day to night and from your work to your personal life, you may find yourself in any number of do-or-die situations that activate the brain's fight-or-flight response and cause the adrenal glands to release the stress hormone cortisol. While this stress-inducing hormone puts you in a state of heightened awareness in order to protect you, it just may be your stress hormone that derails your diet completely. Learn about the stress hormone cortisol and its effect on dieting and weight loss with the following facts on stress and dieting.
What's the Culprit of the Stress Hormone?
When most individuals are asked to pinpoint the source of their stress, they might guess that their daily commute, their overbearing boss, or their overwhelming workloads are their greatest stressors. But there are a number of seemingly harmless factors that more covertly contribute to your stress levels. A lack of adequate sleep, alcohol, caffeine, and even skipping one, single meal can all serve to elevate cortisol levels and leave you in a mini meltdown of sorts.
How the Stress Hormone Derails Your Diet
When you're having one of these emotional emergencies, the body cleverly identify ways to cope with cortisol - many of which affect your dietary habits and can pose disastrous consequences to your weight and health in the long-run.
One of these coping mechanisms is stress eating. A study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology revealed that increases in negative mood due to stressors were correlated with greater food consumption - particularly of sweet foods. This phenomenon can be explained by the fact that elevated cortisol triggers sugar release that isn't used by the cells for energy, but remains in the bloodstream and results in a heightened appetite for high-calorie foods - and consequentially, weight gain.
You might also observe the negative health effects of cortisol through the accumulation of fat deposits deep within the abdomen. High cortisol levels can cause the accumulation of visceral fat around the organs - a type of fat that is particularly difficult to lose after it is gained.
What You Can Do to Conquer Stress?
Stress and dieting don't have to go hand-in-hand in your life. You can help offset the harmful effects of the stress hormone cortisol on your diet and body by making a number of simple dietary and lifestyle changes. Start consuming anti-inflammatory, feel-good foods in the form of fresh, wholesome fruits and vegetables, brain-boosting fish, and herbal teas. Leaning on these foods when a bout of stress eating overcomes you can calm your nerves and ensure that your diet stays on track for success. If emotions and unhealthy cravings overwhelm you, distract yourself from a diet disaster and restore order to your emotions by meditating, conversing with a friend, reading an uplifting book, or strolling through the park to bust stress and fat on-the-go.
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