Being Stressed Can Stop You From Losing Weight

You probably know it's a lot harder to lose weight while you're going through a stressful period; now science is coming up with some explanations.

Chronic stress interferes with weight loss for a number of reasons - comfort eating, drinking too much and not having the energy or motivation to exercise regularly. Basically stressed people aren't as good at taking good care of themselves, because they have more pressing concerns. When you are stressed your adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol. If your blood level of cortisol remains elevated over the long term this promotes abdominal weight gain. High cortisol also worsens insulin resistance (syndrome X) and can trigger sugar and carb cravings, as well as increased overall hunger.

Now scientists have found a new explanation. Chronic stress stimulates the production of a substance called betatrophin, which reduces your ability to break down fat, even if you're doing all the right things with your diet and exercise. This research was published in the journal BBA Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids. It was carried out by researchers from the University of Florida Health. They discovered that high levels of betatrophin suppress an enzyme that breaks down stored fat called adipose triglyceride lipase.

Chronic stress and inability to lose weight is something I see at my clinic all the time. Stress and emotional factors are a major impediment to successful weight loss in many people. I often say to my patients that rather than trying to focus on losing weight, they need to focus on being more calm and relaxed. Life is difficult and some level of stress is inescapable. You can help your body to feel calmer by exercising regularly, spending time in nature; being with your friends or pets and making time for hobbies you enjoy. Magnesium is a wonderfully calming mineral and that's why I often refer to it as The Great Relaxer. In my experience there are very few people who don't feel significantly better while taking a magnesium supplement.