There is nothing more frustrating than being consistent with your nutrition and training yet not seeing the results that you had hoped for.
One factor that is often overlooked in the process of getting in shape is stress and the effect it can have on our bodies. We are all aware of how stress can harm us mentally but let’s look at some of the physical effects.
Cortisol is a hormone released in the adrenal cortex in response to stress and also correlating with circadian rhythms.
Cortisol helps us cope with stress by shutting down unnecessary functions like our reproduction and immune systems to help our body send all its energy to deal with the stress at hand.
This is meant to be a very short process however with modern living (especially in London) we are constantly in a semi stressed fight or flight state.
How does this interfere with fat loss?
Chronically elevated cortisol can lead to to an increase in blood glucose levels…this is great if you need to run away from danger like a bear attacking you but during a normal day this could lead to carbohydrates you eat getting unnecessarily shuttled to your fat cells.
Cortisol elevated for a long period of time can also break down muscle proteins needed for the formation and maintenance of lean muscle tissue.
Sleep and immune systems can also be hit. If sleep is poor and you keep getting sick then you won’t be able to be getting quality workouts in, you may make emotional food choices (Cake for me!) and all this will lead to more emotional stress fuelling a viscous circle.
So how do we control this?
Now I’m not hippy but taking 30 minutes to switch your phone, email and TV off and to just sit and concentrate on breathing can massively reduce daily stress. Think about all the things you’re thankful for when you do this.
Try and get a routine of going to sleep at the same time every night. Keep your room as dark as possible, minimise electrical items in the room and avoid drinking alcohol before bed.
Not every workout needs to kill you. If you are feeling low on energy tell your coach so they can adjust to this or take an extra days rest.
Keep a food diary and note down if you are making food choices on emotional impulse. Make sure you eat a balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats and greens.
Plan at least 2 holidays a year. This will give you something positive in your diary to look forward to and you will be able to relax completely and be more productive when you return.
If you enjoyed this article you may find this interesting too on how you can improve sleep for better results.
We help our members with a nutritional programme that works for them, if you’re struggling, give us a shout at our gym or try out our personal training and we’ll help you work out a plan that suits you.