Is stress stopping you from reaching your health goals?
Whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle, become stronger or simply live a healthier life, stress management plays a big role to achieving your goals.
Your body doesn’t recognize the difference between a life-threatening situation or you just simply being late for work. Both situations generate a “fight-or-flight response”, and the body responds the same way by diverting energy to the tissues that become more active during stress such as the skeletal muscles and brain. Cells of the immune system are also activated and migrate to “battle stations” because the body is ready to “fight”, and less critical activities are suspended such as digestion, and the production of growth hormones.
How can stress make you gain weight or loss muscle?
Stress hormones are produced by the Sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and hypothalamic-pituitary adrenocortical axis. The SNS stimulates the adrenal medulla to produce catecholamines (e.g., epinephrine also known as adrenaline), and the adrenal cortex secretes cortisol. Together, cortisol and catecholamines increase available sources of energy by stimulating the conversion of protein to energy -here we can experience some muscle loss. They also promote the break down of fats and the conversion of glycogen into glucose (sugar). In response, insulin levels increase and your blood sugar drops making you crave more sugary, fatty foods.
How can you cope with stress?
1. Follow a diet rich in whole foods, eat a variety of coloured vegetables and fruits, and try to limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol that you consume on a regular basics.
2. Add moderately amounts of exercise to your routine. Regular exercise exerts a powerful positive effect on mood. On the other hand, extraneous amounts of exercise will add a more stress to the body.
3. Practice deep breathing exercises and remember to take one day at a time.
 US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2568977/
 US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16353426