Could stress be the reason you’re not seeing results? Does your job, personal life or just minor things in general leave you feeling stressed out? If so, it’s time for you to chill. Because the thing that sucks most about stress is that, even if you exercise and eat well, high stress levels can prevent you from losing weight.

When you’ve had a stressful day, your brain tells your cells to release powerful hormones. You are hit with a burst of adrenaline and cortisol which tells your body to restore its energy, even if it hasn’t been used. When this happens you become extremely hungry for no reason. And it stays that way until you’ve de-stressed. This is when the cravings for junk food, high in fat or sugar kick in. The production of testosterone – your muscle-building hormone – is also slowed down, so you burn even fewer calories and lose muscle mass.

Feeling stressed just reading this? You won’t be for long, as top training specialist Ben Bulach from at-home workout app Freeletics shares his top tips on how to beat stress-induced weight gain. 

HIT THE BREAKS

Eating while stressed is like grocery shopping when you’re hungry: you grab everything you can see, as fast as you can and wolf it down. We suggest you slow down when eating. Savour each bite and really take your time to enjoy your food. This won’t only make you feel fuller, it is also said to lower cortisol levels.

STOP DIETING 

Are you used to grabbing a tub of ice cream, bottle of wine, or calling in the pizza as soon as you get home from a stressful day at work? The problem with a drastic, short-term diet is that as soon as you experience a little stress, every goal goes out the window and you end up eating everything you see, starting with the unhealthiest. If you stick to wholesome, healthy nutrition all year round, you appreciate good, honest food and enjoy it. So even if you’re feeling low or stressed, you’ll still make the right choice, because you haven’t been restricting yourself the rest of the time.

Is stress the reason you can't lose weight?

Ahh sweet, life-giving coffee

SKIP THE COFFEE

Everyone loves coffee. Many see it as a life-saving ingredient to get them through their day. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, when you combine stress with caffeine, it is said to raise cortisol levels even more than stress alone. Remember how we said earlier that high cortisol levels can cause stress eating? It might be a good idea to choose the decaf if you’re having a tough day. 

SOLID SLEEP

If you’ve ever laid in bed at night unable to doze off, then you’ll know how stressful it can be on the body. Sleep deprivation is a major cause of stress. It’s said that under 7 hours of sleep a night could result in an increased appetite and weight gain. Not what you want if you spend an hour every day trying to prevent this. If you struggle with sleep, ensure you do some form of exercise or sport each day, so that when it comes to bedtime your body is tired and your mind willing to fall asleep without putting up a fight.

Feeling stressed? How do you combat it – do you find yourself turning to food for comfort or have you figured out a healthier coping mechanism? We want to know – head over to the forum and share your tips.