Stress and Weight Loss: Why Dieting Alone Is Not Enough
Many individuals struggle with attaining and maintaining their ideal weight. Many people spend enormous amounts of money on gym memberships, personal trainers, and dietitians but achieve very minimal or unsatisfactory results.
More than just a problem of metabolism and food intake, recent studies show that stress and anxiety might be among the top reasons why people have a hard time losing weight. The human body actually responds to stressful situations by initiating a burst of energy; and by increasing metabolic rates and blood flow. The body also produces a substance called Cortisol, a natural steroid-like hormone that is also called the “stress hormone.” It is known as the“stress hormone” because large amounts of this substance are released whenever a person feels stressed out. It is an important hormone in the human body because it is used by the body for proper glucose metabolism, regulation of blood pressure, immune system function, and inflammatory response. However, high levels of cortisol may do more harm than good. When people becomes stressed, the adrenal glands produce more cortisol that release sugar in the blood which leads to additional weight gain. People who secrete higher levels of cortisol as a reaction to stress tend to eat more food that is high in carbohydrates, fats, salt, and sugar. This includes sweets and other processed foods that are less healthy and may lead to weight gain.
Many people tend to eat more food to suppress emotional stress and depression. They use snacks and food indulgence as escape routes to deal with pain or pressure that they experience. People who partake in these activities are termed as “emotional eaters.” The addictive qualities of food is probably the reason why people eat when they are stressed. For example, chocolate promotes the release of substantial amounts of opiates that improves mood and satisfaction.
One of the big reasons why there are more people who gaining unwanted weight or obese is because many are too stressed and too busy to prepare healthy meals at home. Because of this, they opt to eat food from the nearest fast food. Fast food meals contain many empty calories that are responsible for unwanted weight gain.
To keep stress levels under control, the body’s relaxation response should be activated during stressful situations. The following methods have been proven to be very beneficial in relaxing the mind and the body:
· Keeping a journal or diary
· Listening to music
· Sex therapy
· Tai chi
Losing weight is not just about lifting weights and cutting down on fats and carbohydrates. Of course, exercise alone cannot guarantee that those extra pounds will be shed. But certainly, mental health is critical in any completing a weight loss program. Changing one’s eating habits, engaging in physical activities, and having a positive mindset all play a complimentary role in losing weight. Maintaining a stress-free lifestyle and the practice of stress management techniques may lead to healthier, happier lives.