We live in a fast paced society, and it shows no sign of slowing down. We all know that chronic stress can have negative health effects like fatigue, irritability, and depression. But over stress can have negative effects on body composition as well.
Stress triggers our bodies to produce cortisol, which can be great in certain situations, such as during exercise. Cortisol tells our bodies to breakdown stored glycogen and increase glucose in the bloodstream. This is great during exercise because our body can use that glucose for fuel. But, if your body has no use for that fuel, it will produce insulin to balance out the elevated blood sugar levels, When cortisol levels are constantly elevated from over stress, we need more insulin to reduce glucose levels, and over time our cells become insulin resistant. This resistance begins to have body composition effects as the body will have a hard time mobilizing fat, require more insulin to cope with carbs in the diet, and increase food cravings due to a lack of glucose in the cells and brain. An over production of cortisol can also lower testosterone, estrogen and T3 levels because they are created in the body by the same raw materials. These hormones are primary in muscle building and metabolic rate in both men and women,
How to manage stress and insulin resistance to improve body composition:
Practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation, breathing exercises or getting a massage.
Make changes to your diet:
Avoid simple carbs, and increase fiber from veggies, fruits, and grains.
Get protein from a variety of sources such as fish, poultry and soy products
Reduce saturated fats
Take time to do the things you enjoy.
Get 7-8 hours of sleep, consider sleep supplements if needed.
Exercise! Exercise helps to deal with cortisol in a natural way. Begin to build towards some level of activity every day!
Seek out professional counseling when needed, there's no harm in asking for help!