How does this hormonal imbalance work? Cortisol, or as some call it 'the stress hormone', is a critical hormone in our bodies which controls our energy levels, how much insulin is released and maintains our blood sugar levels, all leading to an eventual increase in appetite. Yet when cortisol is in excess during times of physical or psychological stress, the normal patterns of cortisol secretion, which are usually in the early morning and at night, can be altered. The disruption of the cortisol secretion may be what cause you to put on pounds when you're stressed.
The act of playing around with your hormones has more serious consequences for your nutrition and fitness regimen than you may think. By changing the pattern of cortisol secretion in your system, you areslowing down your metabolism, or the rate at which you are able to process foods and digest them. With all the excess cortisol and adrenaline in your system, your body is unable to burn calories, fats and sugars like it usually would. Instead, it stores them around your abdomen and hips for times when the body isn't as stressed and has the energy to process them.
But chronic stress doesn't just make you feel constantly hungry, it also makes you want to eat foods that are high in sugar and fat. This is because stress is triggering intense cravings, causing you to reach for unhealthy foods like chips and chocolate, which in turn make you gain weight. When you eat these foods, you are injected with feel-good hormones that momentarily pacify your stress, creating a response that you may try to replicate later once you are feeling stressed. Instead, try to make a conscious effort of avoiding these foods and your body won't crave them. It's as simple as that!
If you are concerned about your weight, or have been trying to lose weight for some time, you might need to consider that a stressful lifestyle may be holding you back from fulfilling your goals. Look for ways that you can reduce stress in your life and you'll be amazed with how quickly the weight melts off and your general health improves.