Healthy Living

How Stress Wreaks Havoc on Your Body – and Weight!

Women laying on her stomach in bed with pillow over her face

Stress. We’ve all felt it.

Cramming to study for a  final that will make or break your grade. Trying to get the kids up, dressed, fed  and to school on time. Hurrying to meet a deadline at work. Worrying about friends, family, food and everything else in between.

Stress is inevitable. It is our bodies natural reaction to any demand for change. But stress doesn’t just cause us to be in a bad mood, snap at our kids or hate our jobs. Stress – either short-term or chronic – has an effect on many areas of our health, including our weight!

The Stressful World We Live In

People today work more hours and carry heavier workloads than ever before. Our schedules are packed with appointments, volunteer commitments, civic responsibilities, gym time, school functions, children’s lessons and so much more. Relationships with spouses and friends are often strained due to our busy schedules. Financial problem increase the risk of health problems and add extra tension to our lives.

So how do all these stressors effect our bodies? Unfortunately, they wreak havoc in a number of ways.

Stress and Rest

According to the 2012 APA (American Psychological Association) Stress in America survey, more than 40% of adults lie awake at night due to stress.

That lack of sleep not only elevates our stress hormone levels (see below), which makes it hard for us to lose stored fat. It also results in fatigue and depression which can make regular workouts a low priority.

Many of us have a tendency to exacerbate the situation by turning to excessive amounts of coffee, energy drinks, soda and sugary snacks to give us the energy not only to start our day but to survive it until we get home.

What to Do: Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Keep your bedroom restful and sparse, so that there isn’t too much visual chaos in the room. Stop drinking coffee or sugar drinks right after dinner (or sooner if you can). Also, resist the urge to grab an energy drink or espresso in the late afternoon.

Stressed young woman in grey sweater on the phone

Stress and Nutrition

Two things happen when we’re stressed: we either don’t eat enough, or we overeat the wrong things. Tight schedules and chaotic mornings make it hard to get balanced, filling meals, so we either eat so sporadically (again, stimulating the release of fat-storing cortisol) that we can’t lose weight, or starve all day and then overeat unhealthy foods at night, leading to the addition of new fat.

What to Do: Mornings are really tough for most people, especially during the school year. Ensure that you have time to load up the healthy nutrient-dense foods (and avoid overeating later), by enjoying an IdealShake®. You can even load up your blender with your smoothie ingredients the night before so that all you have to do in the morning  is hit blend and go.

Avoid overeating at home or reaching for fattening, sugary snacks in the afternoon by keeping healthy, filling snacks on hand. Nuts, seeds, and fruit are all good choices. You can also keep a stash of your favorite flavors of IdealBar® in your desk, purse or gym bag. These provide a convenient way for you to get a quick and nutritious snack in. Its hunger-blocking agents will help you resist reaching for those fattening snacks you usually find yourself grabbing during the middle of the day.

Stress and the Immune System

Stress weakens the immune system by depleting antioxidant reserves that we need to fight infection, battle free radicals and keep us healthy and energized. At the same time, stress also stimulates the immune system, which produces stress hormones such as cortisol. Cortisol is a fat-storage hormone, so stress actually promotes fat gain and makes it very difficult to lose fat.

Stress also depletes the body’s Vitamin C stores. Your body prioritizes the use of Vitamin C, and the immune system gets first dibs. What’s left over is used for cell renewal and the creation of a compound called l-carnitine. L-carnitine is like a subway system for stored fat. It transports stored fat back to the liver to be turned into glycogen and burned as fuel. If you don’t have enough Vitamin C, you also don’t have enough l-carnitine, and you’ll have a very hard time getting rid of that abdominal fat.

What to Do: Feed and support your immune system by getting plenty of vitamins and minerals, particularly Vitamins C, E and the B-spectrum.  Click here to see a list of the best foods for every vitamin and mineral and feel secure knowing that every serving of IdealShake meal replacement shakes have a high vitamin and mineral content–especially when it comes to the C, E and B’s.

Time for Less Stress

We’re never going to be able to eliminate all of the things that cause us stress. But we can take steps to reduce the stress in our lives, manage the symptoms, and maintain a healthy weight in spite of everything that life is throwing at us.




Writer and expert

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