Written by guest author Kat Blake.

Maybe you can relate; you’re exercising often, eating well and you’re always on the go but you’re wondering why the weight isn’t shifting. Your high stress levels might be responsible for that stubborn fat…

Stress is a natural bodily response designed to aid survival. In times of panic, your heart would start pumping blood more efficiently to your arms and legs, your brain would tell your lungs to start breathing faster to increase your oxygen intake and your stress hormones (Adrenaline and Cortisol) would be circulating in your body to give you the energy to survive. This is known as your ‘Fight or Flight Response’.

During Fight or Flight your digestive system and your immune system are shut down because your body temporarily deprioritises what it doesn’t need for basic survival. Unfortunately, issues arise when this Fight or Flight response occurs on a frequent basis (i.e. daily), especially if left untreated!

Cortisol levels should fluctuate naturally throughout the day. They should be at their highest first thing in the morning and at their lowest late in the evening around midnight. When put under stress, your body’s normal Cortisol levels can be disrupted. This not only encourages weight gain but also influences where fat is deposited in your body. Studies have shown that elevated Cortisol (due to stress) encourages fat to be deposited around the abdominal area. This is known as “unhealthy” fat as it is linked with a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease.

Unfortunately, external stressors are not always avoidable. What you can do though is support your body so that it can better handle the stress and reduce the negative effects of increased stress hormones overwhelming your body.

Aim to:

  • Eat every 2-3 hours.
  • Sleep 7-8 hours a night (solidly).
  • Limit coffee to 1-2 cups daily (have the last cup before 2pm).
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid processed sugars and packaged food.
  • Make time to clear your mind. Schedule a time at least once a week to relax/meditate, read a book, take a bubble bath or enjoy a massage.

Kat Blake specialises in Stress, Sleep and Fatigue Management. If you would like more information contact Kat at  kathryn@inaturopathy.com.au or on 0433848828.