When we are talking about weight loss and weight management, in all but a few rare cases, we are all talking about getting rid of excess and unneeded body fat. I know of no one who is wanting to control their weight by reducing healthy muscle mass.
Any successful weight loss/weight management program must include a healthy lifestyle. We cannot expect to achieve the desired goal if we are not willing to make changes, in some cases extreme, in all areas of our life.
The single largest contributing factor to controlling and reducing body fat is stress management. Most of us, stress is a fact of life. Unfortunately, research reveals that it’s also a fact of fat. Even if you usually eat well and exercise chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight—or even add pounds.
When you have stress, your body releases certain survival stress hormones that are produced in the adrenal glands: cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine. When you first get stressed, these hormones kick into gear. Norepinephrine tells your body to stop producing insulin so that you can have plenty of fast-acting blood glucose ready. Epinephrine will relax the muscles in your stomach and intestines and decrease blood flow to these organs. Once the stressor has passed, cortisol tells the body to stop producing these hormones and to go back to digesting regularly. It’s normal for your cortisol levels to go up and down throughout the day, but when you are chronically stressed your cortisol level goes up — and stays there.
When your stressed and cortisol levels are high, the body actually resists weight loss. Your body thinks times are hard and you might starve, so it hoards the fat you eat or have present on your body. Cortisol tends to retain and add fat in the abdomen which has more cortisol receptors. In the process, it turns healthy peripheral fat into unhealthy visceral fat that increases inflammation and insulin resistance in the body. This belly fat then leads to more cortisol because it has higher concentrations of an enzyme that converts inactive cortisone to active cortisol. The more belly fat you have, the more active cortisol will be converted by these enzymes — yet another vicious cycle created by visceral fat.
So how do we break this vicious cycle? In simple words we need to properly manage stress in our life. Easier said than done right?!
The key to stress management is different for each and every individual. There is simply no magic bullet but one key player is sleep. A healthy circadian rhythm is key to stress management.
If you want want to be more successful in your weight loss consider taking a different approach rather than simply focusing on diet, exercise and cardio. These are all very beneficial and necessary to a successful plan but are only treating the symptoms to weight management. Any long term successful weight management program needs to focus more on the root cause of the condition… stress.