The negative effects or stress impact all areas or our lives and also our fitness goals making it almost impossible to get lean and stay lean.
We´ve seen that stress has a lot of negative effects on health, physical and mental but I´ve seen people who still don´t consider its impact on fitness, they´re doing “everything” right and for some reason they just can´t lose weight and keep it off.
You may be following a healthy nutrition program with the right macro nutrient ratios and calories to give your body nutrients, energy and sustain your weight loss goal; you are doing resistance workouts 4 days a week and the other 3 cardio; your mindset is right you are focused on your goal by using tools like meditation and visualization but you are not sleeping enough or your sleep is not good quality and you don´t even think stress is important so you don´t work on managing it.
Or they find it difficult to make the right choices at every meal, they don´t have the motivation to workout out, they´re not sleeping well and it´s almost impossible to follow any fitness program.
Weight loss has a lot to do with hormones, we need to manipulate certain hormones in a good way to help us achieve our goals. There are two hormones that are important; insulin and cortisol. Insulin is the fat making hormone and cortisol is the stress hormone if this two hormones are high you won´t lose weight.
Since cortisol is the stress hormone this means that every time you get stressed your body releases cortisol to keep you safe but if stress has become part of your life it means that cortisol is high so your body is not working properly because it turned off some functions to deal with daily stressful situations. Some symptoms are feeling tired, overwhelmed, unmotivated and it causes headaches, digestive problems, inflammation but the way it stops your weight loss is the connection it has with insulin.
Our body cannot handle stress for long periods of time so if you have chronic stress, if you live the kind of life that most people do which is wake up, go to your 9 to 5 job and get back or you go to school but in both cases you are dealing with stressful situations then your body is triggering cortisol all those times to deal with those situations which increases insulin.
If insulin is high your body won´t use stored fat for energy and it´s not efficient using carbohydrates either so almost all carbohydrates are going to get stored as fat, when cortisol is high your body uses sugar or carbohydrates for energy which are a more efficient source of energy instead of using fat. This makes it so hard for you to lose weight and stay lean.
The effects stress has on hormones is just one way it impacts your results, there are negative consequences you will face on your workouts like a lack of concentration; have you heard about mind-muscle connection? every time you workout you need to be focused on what you are doing and when you are stressed your mind keeps wandering on other unrelated stuff so you won´t be training with the intensity needed and in some cases it may cause injuries. Another point to consider is that it slows the recovery process, right after you finish your workout your body starts to recover and the more stressed you are the more time it will take for your body to recover.
In some of the posts I´ve written about fat loss I mentioned that the hardest part of any fat loss program is managing stress if you don´t find ways to lower it you won´t get the results you want. You may have a lot of willpower and you stick to the nutrition and workout program or you won´t be able to stick to it.
Stress affects negatively your sleep and it creates cravings specially for sweets and refined carbohydrates, you tend to be in a bad mood which keeps you away from the mindset you need to be, all this creates a negative cycle and you need to be really patient and take one step at a time to start changing habits and adopt tools that help you lower stress and stay more calm and relax in tough times so that you can think and make the right choices.
Now, even when stress can impact negatively your fitness goals specially if you are working really hard to lose fat and at some level for gaining lean muscle mass, exercise is a great way to manage stress.
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