Work out like an animal at the gym and get fatter? That might seem unfair, but it can happen. Chronic stress in your life can actually cause you to store extra body fat.
You may have heard of the hormone cortisol, which is also known as the “stress hormone.” When we’re stressed, our adrenal glands secrete cortisol at higher levels than normal.
When we think of stress, most of us think of emotional problems, money issues, office politics, love trouble and annoying mother-in-law types. But there are plenty of physical causes of stress, too.
Some of these include:
- Lack of sleep
Of these, overtraining is really the only one completely within our control. We all want to be the best we can be in and outside of the gym, but sometimes our efforts can backfire if they overtax our bodies. When cortisol levels are sustained at high levels in the body, all kinds of bad things can happen to healthy muscles and bones, not to mention impaired mental function, a weakened immune system and, of course, more abdominal fat.
The problem with increased abdominal fat isn’t just cosmetic. This kind of fat is associated with more health risks than stored fat in any other area of the body. It can put you at an increased risk of heart attack or stroke and high levels of the bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of good cholesterol (HDL).
So be responsible with your workouts, try to get as much sleep as you can and find coping techniques that make emotional stress more bearable. Everyone needs some time to unwind and be happy. Exercise, play with your kids, or just watch some TV and be a couch potato every now and then.
Get fitness and sports nutrition tips from personal trainer Deniz Duygulu, an International Federation of BodyBuilders Men’s Physique pro athlete. Like Deniz on Facebook to watch videos demonstrating correct form and for advice on fueling effectively.