Exercise plans, gym memberships, diet books, exercise equipment, and the like all promise to help you lose weight and achieve the health and body you desire. Despite the promises of fad diets and kooky weight-loss supplements, there is no secret “trick” to losing weight. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise will always be essential to safely lose weight and maintain the weight loss. That being said, there is another factor that can influence your weight and may hinder your weight loss goals: stress.
Stress can actually slow your metabolism. A recent study demonstrated that women who ate a high-calorie meal after a stressful day showed a dip in metabolism, and they burned the calories more slowly.
A slowed-down metabolism isn’t the only problem. Stress can also affect what kinds of foods we crave, and thus, what kinds of foods we eat. Stress increases the hankering for foods high in salt, sugar, and fat. How many of us, at the end of a hectic, stressful day of meetings, feel inclined to reward ourselves with an apple over a donut?
As if slower metabolism and unhealthy cravings weren’t enough, stress can hinder weight loss by affecting the quality and quantity of sleep we get. According to the American Psychological Association, 40% of Americans have difficulty sleeping due to stress. Worrying about work, children, money, and other stressors makes it difficult to sleep and difficult to sleep soundly through the night. Lack of sleep, in turn, likewise increases cravings for salty, fatty, and sugary foods, and it is associated with overeating.
The bottom line: stress can hinder your weight loss efforts. So, the next step is getting your stress level under control. While you may not be able to control all the stressors in your life, you can control your reaction. Find positive outlets for stress, such as going for a walk or talking to a friend. Use the positive outlets to replace negative outlets, such as indulging in unhealthy food or watching television. Try a new relaxation technique, such as yoga or deep-breathing. They really can help!
Sources: time.com, www.psychologytoday.com