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Your dog, pilates and coffee obsessed Nutritionist.
Are you experiencing hormonal weight gain?
You’re not alone — In consultation the typical picture I see is this:
*Work related stress and/or stress at home.
*1-3 too many coffees.
*Not making the time to sit down and eat 3 balanced meals and opting for something quick like a coffee and a snack.
Often combined with one or more of the below:
*A glass of vino or 10 across the week to relax.
*Only doing HIIT training.
Stress in all its forms has very notable physical effects in the body, including: tight muscles, headaches, feeling irritated, overwhelmed and even weight gain… here’s how it happens.
We make two main stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol is our more chronic stress hormone, meaning that we make too much of it when we are stressed for a long time.
Excess cortisol is one of the biggest contributors to “unexplained weight gain” and typically weight will be distributed around the mid-section, backs of the arms and upper thighs. I lovingly call this — ‘the cortisol pouch’.
How and why does this happen?
Two things are key to understand about cortisol. Firstly it triggers glucose break down from muscle and liver stores, triggering glucose to be dumped into the bloodstream and this creates a similar physiological response to eating large volumes of sugar.
Secondly we humans have evolved a lot but for the most part our physiology hasn’t. Historically cortisol was produced in times of food scarcity. So.. when we are pumping out cortisol our brain receives information that food is scarce and in an effort to protect the precious human [you], your metabolism is slowed and fat stores are preserved. Your body thinks it’s doing you a favour by hanging on tightly to those extra Kgs.
A 2015 study showed that stress reduced metabolic rate by 104 calories and also increased insulin levels (our main fat storage hormone), compared with the non-stressed sample.
Other risks of chronic stress include:
Where to get started to tackle stress-related weight gain:
If you are head-nodding your way through this and your would like some individualised advice feel free to book in a complimentary consultation.