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Can Stress Make You Fat

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Bodybuilding and Fitness Newsletter 10/16/2019

How This Hidden Killer Is Making You Fat

You probably already know that if you want to lose fat, then you need to burn more calories than you take in, and that usually means cleaning up your diet and exercise program. But did you know there is a “hidden” health issue that can not only make you fat but can actually kill you?

Stress is a normal part of life, and it can be good for you if you use it right. But too much stress for too long can have terrible consequences, and it can stop your fitness goals in their tracks.

Here is how too much stress can make you fat.

Hunger When You’re Not Hungry

According to Elissa Epel, Ph. D., through a WebMD interview, our bodies release a cocktail of hormones to help us deal with the stressors we face on an everyday basis.

Adrenaline and corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) give you an instant charge of energy and actually reduce your appetite in the short term. They are the “fight-or-flight” hormones that help you rise to physical challenges you would normally avoid — or they make you run.

After that power bump wears off, though, you’re often left depleted and hungry. Cortisol, the third stress hormone, comes on the scene when your stress is more chronic and also encourages you to eat and replenish your defenses.

These three “helpers” are great for surviving in a tough, rugged physical environment where you need to fight for survival, but they aren’t very good at differentiating between stressors. So, when your boss yells at you, you might get a flood of that same cocktail, without the physical outlet for burning energy.

As a result, many people eat more, and more often, than they should as a mechanism to ward off stress, and they gain fat.

Fat Storage

Compounding this effect is that one of cortisol’s main jobs is to help you prepare for ongoing stress. In particular, your body will want to make sure it has sufficient energy to handle any future bursts of energy that come from threats like you’ve experienced in the past — the same ones that cause you to surge adrenaline and CRH.

Cortisol to the rescue!

Yes, not only does cortisol encourage you to eat more, but it helps shuttle most of those excess calories into your fat stores so they’ll be available when you need them.

The problem for most of us, of course, is that we never really need that extra energy since our stressors don’t require much in the way of a physical response.

What to Do

So, if you want to lose fat, then you need to limit your stress as much as possible.

That’s easy to say, but can be really hard to pull off. In general, though, you need to get plenty of rest and sleep, eat well, and avoid overtraining. Try not to work out late at night since that can disrupt your sleep.

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