Chronic Stress Makes Us Store Fat.
Too often in the fitness industry, I see coaches preaching the calories in v’s calories out theory of fat-loss, with total disregard for the complexities of human biology.
There are far more important things to consider if you want to lose body-fat and actually be healthy.
The truth is, no matter how calorie focussed you are, no matter the deficit between calories consumed and calories burned, your body will still store fat if your system is stressed.
If we go back to the earlier days of human existence, our primary stressors were predators and lack of food. Our physical survival was literally under threat and our physiology responded accordingly. The fight or flight response would shunt blood away from the digestive system to the arms and legs to enable us to move. We would rely upon glucose as our preferred fuel because it provided faster energy release than fat and our bodies could store the fat in case of starvation.
In modern society, there are no tigers chasing us, instead, our stress response is triggered by the tigers in our mind.
Our financial stress, relationship stress, success stress, acceptance stress, chemical stress, they all stimulate the release of stress hormones into the blood and our chemistry adapts to survival mode.
The metaphorical tiger is very much as real to our biochemistry as the actual tiger of days gone by. Our body responds to the stress by firstly releasing adrenalin and moving energy stores to the muscles of the extremities and away from the digestive system. Cortisol is then released, which tells our cells to store fat. This process teaches our bodies to use glucose as our primary fuel, so we then crave sugar.
Health isn’t about looking good. It’s about feeling good and functioning well.
If you are already highly stressed and trying to lose body-fat by restricting calories and exercising at an intensity that represents a physical stressor you are setting yourself up for long-term disappointment and a yo-yo pattern of weight problems. In essence, you are adding chemical and physical stress to your already emotionally stressed out system, thereby further instigating the stress hormone response and leading to more fat storage.