If you’re currently moving forward on a fat loss diet plan, but aren’t seeing results that you hoped to see, chances are you are feeling pretty disappointed. You want to see the absolute best results from your efforts and when effort is put in but there’s nothing to show for it, this could easily send you off the bandwagon.
One element that far too many people completely discount when going about their fat loss diet that could account for their lack of results is stress. Stress plays a tremendous role in your progress and unless you are taking steps to combat it, you will see hindered results because of it.
Let’s look a bit closer at some of the main ways that stress factors into things.
Stress And Cortisol
What is cortisol?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone, one of the glucocorticoids, made in the cortex of the adrenal glands and then released into the blood, which transports it all round the body. Almost every cell contains receptors for cortisol and so cortisol can have lots of different actions depending on which sort of cells it is acting upon. These effects include controlling the body’s blood sugar levels and thus regulating metabolism, acting as an anti-inflammatory, influencing memory formation, controlling salt and water balance, influencing blood pressure and helping development of the fetus. In many species cortisol is also responsible for triggering the processes involved in giving birth.
This is one way that stress can influence your results, increased stress causes an increase in cortisol that will be flowing through your body. Due to the increased amounts of cortisol this will cause you to have a much greater risk of storing abdominal fat. In addition, when there is a high amount of stress moving through the body on a day to day basis, this is also going to increase the level of lean muscle mass breakdown that can occur, slowing your metabolism down as a result. The less lean muscle mass you have, the harder it’s going to be to stay lean over time.
Finally, when you’re highly stressed out and cortisol is running through your system, you’ll also be far more likely to retain excess water, which can mask fat loss progress. If you’re up a few pounds one day suddenly, chances are it’s just water retention, not fat weight.
Stress And Food Control
Second, the next issue where stress will factor in is with regards to your overall level of food control. If you’re highly stressed out, you won’t have as much control over your food intake as you would if you were calm and collected. Stress eating is a big issue for many people and most don’t need to be told the impact this will have on their level of progress.
If you’re regularly turning to carb-dense, calorie-dense foods to sooth the emotions that you’re feeling, you know that you’re headed for trouble on your diet plan. Additionally these “comfort foods” just perpetuate the problem, you eat them to feel good, which research has shown there is an endorphin release related to some of our sugary delights. Then your progress on the fat loss journey is hindered so you feel guilty, depressed and of course stressed. So you turn right back to those foods again…see the problem? Stress and food consumption go hand in hand for many people and will make sticking with that reduced calorie diet feel like mission impossible.
Stress And Energy
The next area that stress impacts your results is with regards to your energy levels. If you’re feeling very stressed out on a day to day basis, your energy level will be plummeting rapidly. You’ll find that you feel burnout, worn out both physically and emotionally, and the last thing that you feel like doing will be getting a workout in.
Stress has a way of zapping the life out of most people and making you just want to curl up on the couch for hours.
If you’re incredibly stressed out, this is something that you need to be assessing. If it’s draining you of your energy level, you need to find a better way to combat stress both for fat loss purposes, but also so that you can maintain better health and overall function as well. Being tired on a day to day basis will decrease your overall quality of life, so this isn’t something that you want to take lightly.
Stress And Your Adrenal Glands
The next area where stress will make itself known is with your adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are small structures attached to the top of each kidney. The human body has two adrenal glands that release chemicals called hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones affect many parts of the human body. Your adrenal glands are the master regulators of the body and are going to control your hormones, your metabolic rate, along with many other actions of other organs in the body.
Stress also wears out the adrenal glands because it causes them to over-secret adrenaline, which is the flight or fight hormone. In times of severe stress, this hormone is a good thing, but when it’s chronically being released, it’s not such a good thing. That’s when your adrenal glands may in fact burn out entirely and when they do, you’ll have an endless amount of fatigue to be dealing with on a day to day basis.
Stress And Recovery
Finally, the last area where stress is going to impact you is with regards to your recovery ability. If you’re very stressed out on a regular basis, you won’t recover nearly as quickly from your workouts as you should and therefore will need to spend far more downtime out of the gym between your sessions. The less frequently you can be doing your workout sessions, the less progress you’ll make towards your end goal – therefore this is a significant hindrance of success.
If you find that it takes you days after each intense workout to start feeling well enough to hit the gym again, you know that stress is playing a role here. Because stress does have an impact on your immune system and your immune system is what will regulate how quickly you recover, the two go hand in hand.
If you want to best combat stress, it’s helpful to find out what works best for you as stress management techniques. Some people will find that if they practice deep breathing, this is a great way to reduce the stress they feel while others will need to write in a journal to release the emotions that is causing them to be stressed out in the first place.
Try a few different methods of handling stress so that you can come to see which is going to work best for you. Then keep using that method so that you can minimize the degree of stress you experience throughout the weight loss process.