Stress. We all have it and, to some degree, need it just to function. Today, we live in a fast-moving society that is naturally more stressful than many people can tolerate. Once stress gets to the point that it is controlling our actions and emotions, it often impacts our appetite. For some, this can mean a decrease in what we eat. For some people, higher levels of stress are more likely to cause an increase in the way we eat. While this may not be a big problem during your twenties or thirties, it can begin to have a serious impact on your weight once you pass the age of 40.
The Hormonal Impact
Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, is normally produced by the adrenal glands in quantities that decrease as the day progresses, with the highest levels occurring early in the morning. The purpose of cortisol is to maintain blood pressure and provide energy to the body. It creates energy by breaking down the fat and carbohydrates in the body and maintains blood sugar levels by controlling the release of insulin.
The increased cortisol production that occurs in response to physical or emotional stress is what earned the hormone its nickname. When production is increased, the normal patterns of production can be disrupted so that the highest levels are not always present first thing in the morning. Not only does the increase in cortisol promote weight gain, but it also leads to increases in abdominal fat that is dangerous to your health and a common problem for women over 40.
Weight Loss After 40
As women near the age of menopause, their bodies stop producing as much oestrogen. As a result, added weight is more likely to go to the abdominal area rather than on the hips or thighs where it is stored during childbearing years. In addition, they have more problems sleeping, a lower metabolism, and tend to be less active. These are all factors that can lead to an increase in weight gain. When stress and increased levels of cortisone come into play, keeping the extra pounds off becomes even more challenging.
Certainly, reducing stress levels as much as possible can help. Learning breathing techniques to get through stressful times and taking time to do things you enjoy no matter how hectic your schedule is are common ways that women reduce the impact of a stressful career or home life. Whenever possible, remove yourself from those situations that you know can cause you stress. Preventing a stressful situation from occurring is a lot more effective than trying to control your body’s response once it is already happening.
While there may not be a proven method for reducing or eliminating the impact of cortisol on your diet, exercise has thus far proven to be the most effective method for lowering the level of cortisone in your body. Taking a 15 to 30 minute walk around the workplace during your lunch break could help you reduce stress, decrease the impact of cortisol, burn calories and control appetite so that you don’t each as much. It is a simple way to prevent weight gain without the unknown side effects that may come with taking an unproven supplement.
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