How stress is killing your fitness gains

Stress can lead to weight gain, even if you hit the gym.

Quick notes

  • Stress eating is a short-term win but a long-term loss.

  • Try opting for healthier alternatives to your favorite unhealthy foods.

  • Begin practicing de-stressing techniques, as stress hormones can actually prevent weight loss.

Stress is no joke. If you’re someone who is constantly plagued by stress, whether it be from work, school, or daily life, you may want to consider how stress can affect other areas of your life. This is even more crucial for those looking to lose weight or establish a healthy fitness routine.

Unfortunately, there’s an undeniable link between too much stress and weight gain. Some of this is due to our own actions, as well as biological processes. So, while it’s unrealistic to avoid stress completely, here’s how stress is thought to affect your waistline.

Understanding emotional eating

Many people turn to food when they’re stressed. This is understandable, as food gives us a sudden rush of feel-good hormones when we eat. However, you should always be aware of whether you’re stress eating too much. Often times, stress can cloud your judgment and in turn, cause you to stray from your diet.

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It’s easy to give in to stress eating and “treat yourself” with something you enjoy. However, when treating yourself is more of a trend than a special occasion, you should consider opting for more nutritious foods.

More importantly, the cravings for junk food or other treats will be stronger than ever after repetitive meals. These cravings can be ridiculously hard to overcome, especially when you’re feeling stressed out. Instead of eating guilty pleasure foods, try to upgrade your typical treat to a healthier alternative.

For instance, nix the bread on your favorite burger or chicken sandwich. Or, you can opt for a salad with a nice protein and a conservative portion of cheese. Upgrading your favorite cheat foods will help you stress eat less and integrate more healthy foods into your diet.

Stress hormones don’t help

As if stress eating wasn’t enough, the stress-induced biological processes in your body can also contribute to weight gain.

High levels of cortisol, a hormone the body produces when one is stressed, have been linked to increased belly fat as well as cravings for sugar and fat. What’s more, cortisol can also trigger headaches, making it more difficult for you to hit the gym and reach your fitness goals.

The hormone adrenaline that’s produced during stressful times can also contribute to headaches. If you find yourself feeling stressed, take a few deep breaths and a moment to calm yourself to avoid these pesky hormones.

High levels of cortisol, a hormone the body produces when one is stressed, have been linked to increased belly fat as well as cravings for sugar and fat. What’s more, cortisol can also trigger headaches, making it more difficult for you to hit the gym and reach your fitness goals.

Although stress can contribute to weight gain in a variety of ways, you can still avoid stress-induced weight gain by practicing mindfulness. When you’re tempted to stress eat, look up the calorie and nutrition information of your cheat meal. Is it worth it now? Is there a healthier alternative?

You may also want to invest in wellness activities such as meditation and yoga. These will provide a way for you to let go of unnecessary stress that weighs heavy on both your mind and your hips.

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