How stress makes you fat!

Take a lunch break

When feeling stressed the adrenal glands release the hormone cortisol into the blood supply to prepare the body for flight or fight. Cortisol increases blood sugar levels so your brain, muscles and organs have enough fuel to get you through that stressful situation – either running away (flight) or pushing on through even though you are tired and anxious (fight), this put very simply, promots our body to store fat.


So how would you describe your current stress levels?

A little bit of stress is not a bad thing. The problem occurs when you are constantly in that stressful state and not allowing yourself to come down from it, relax and take time out. Chronically elevated cortisol increases blood sugar levels, which then elevate insulin levels preparing the body for fight or flight…this, among other things, will stop you from burning fat no matter what exercise or diet program you follow.




Chocolate? Biscuits? …Comfort eating! 

If you comfort eat when you are stressed (and the majority of us turn to sugary carbs rather than a plate of veg!) the same thing happens. Our insulin levels increase…and our body stores fat!

Reaching for another glass of red or hitting the pub after work?

Alcohol stimulates appetite and there is a link between high alcohol consumption and cortisol secretion. So by adding alcohol into the equation you’re making things even worse for your fat storage situation!

Bury your head in the sand

Do you deny to yourself that you are stressed and keep working through it?

Stress doesn’t just affect our ability to burn fat but can also has major consequence on your health.

Because the immune system is compromised, when we are under constant stress we are more prone to catching colds and flu…and worse still, headaches, gastric problems and heart palpitations can also occur.


So what can you do about it?


Well the first thing is to identify the causes of your stress.

  • Manage your time – concentrate on working on one thing at a time and not multi-tasking.
  • Only check your emails twice a day at set times.
  • Have regular breaks – lunch time is a time not just to eat (and not at your desk!) but also to give your brain a rest. The brain works better after a rest and some fresh air and you maybe surprised at how much more clearly you can think and what you can achieve by having a break.
  • Reflect on what you’ve achieved, rather than worrying about what you haven’t.
  • Accept things you can’t change.
  • Act positively – once you’ve finished a task, take a few moments to pause and relax. Maybe have a healthy snack, do some relaxation exercises.


The second is to think about how to deal with it.

  • Make time for your friends.
  • Have a massage – don’t look upon this as a treat; think of it as preventative and book one regularly
  • Attend a fitness class – Pilates or stress busting cardio class –find what relieves your stress
  • Attitude – try to change your mindset, ask yourself does it matter if you don’t…..?
  • Take supplements B-vitamins, vitamin C, calming herbs such as Chamomile. When we are stressed B vitamins can get depleted from our body as the nervous system uses extra. Vitamin C is also needed during stressful times. These are water-soluble vitamins that must be replenished on a daily basis to help maintain a healthy nervous system.


An estimated 13.5 million working days per year are lost due to work-related stress conditions. In 2008/09 an estimated 415,000 individuals in Britain, who worked in the last year, believed that they were experiencing work related stress at a level that was making them ill, according to the Labour Force Survey. Source: UK Health & Safety Executive


Look after yourself…as the in flight safety briefing says…put your own face mask on first.

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