Is stress making you fat?

Struggling to shift that belly fat? Well, maybe it’s not just down to the food you eat and the movement (or lack of) that you do. These are both MASSIVE factors as to why you may not be able to shift fat and change your body composition. However, have you thought about the linkage to stress? Yep, stress is a contributing factor to stubborn fat as well as other physical indicators.

As a society, we are spending more time in a stressed state (heightened cortisol levels) than any other time before us. Work, social media, news, financial, relationships, terrible drivers……the list goes on. So many external factors causing many to react in a stressed manner. But note, cortisol keeps us alive, it’s what gets you to react quickly and dodge the bullet (well, the lion, car or bus) as apposed to slowly pondering the situation and thinking about an appropriate course of action, we react and move quickly instead. You need your innate stress response.

However, we rarely come down from this heightened level of stress and move back into the rest and digest phase. Indicators of a stressed state:

  • Heightened anxious state
  • Poor memory recall
  • Lowered immune system (always sick)
  • Blood pressure increase

This is all happening inside the body, but what does it look like on the outside:

  • Stubborn (belly) fat (visceral fat around organs)
  • Poor sleep-wake cycle
  • Sugar cravings
  • Salty snack cravings
  • Extended recovery time from injuries
  • Bloating and poor digestion
  • Low libido and or erectile dysfunction
  • Higher states of anxiousness and/or depression.
  • Irregular ovulation

So, what are some ways you can address this?

  • Daily meditation. Spending time in a relaxed state, being peaceful, calm and focused on breath. Lowering that cortisol level and stepping away from potential ‘triggers’
  • Daily breath work. There are lots of ‘styles’ that can be used to relax you and your system. The two that work best for me:
    • Box breathing
    • Two breaths in, one slow exhale, 5 rounds
  • Get outside and in nature. Walk, run, golf, ride. Just be out amongst nature and ideally the sunshine.
  • Movement is crucial to reducing cortisol, however be conscious of over training.
  • Look to things like chamomile tea, lavender oils, magnesium and other natural remedies
  • And, or course, identify where you can, what the causes are of the stress and address where possible

So, is stress making you fat? Yes….potentially it is. I raise this as many people do not identify stress as an issue or contributing factor to their body fat, instead cutting calories down and down and down, whilst training more and more and more. This is dangerous and I would suggest not advisable. Please speak with your holistic health provider, GP or therapist to address your relationship with stress.


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