does stress make us fat?

*this information is for information purposes only. It is not intended to treat, perevent or cure any conditions, nor is intended to constitute advice on which reliance should be placed. Any information in this blog should be discussed with your health care practitioner.

the answer is yes.

STRESS & STUBBORN FAT ARE BEST BUDS


So if you follow me on insta, a few days (its not been a week coz I was slow on the come up haha) ago, you’d seen my post that we chucked on Culture King’s Melb’s snap and my little vultnerablity moment of me tearing myself down. And then I was like “omg eliza, you stressing about stressing about looking fat, is making you fat”.

 

When something potentially stressful pops into my life, I legit always think and then say “naah, its not worth the cortisol” and then don’t stress about it, because is it worth the inflammation, its gonna be a no from me.  So when I posted that piccy, I realised I was being self conscious about my tummy, and guess which hormone loves to store fat there; yep CORTISOL. It was like a double-edged sword. Stressing about stressing about having tummy fat, just keeps my tummy fat there. So I was like damn, lets write about this. And oestrogen, and a lil bit of testosterone, and plateu’s and fat.

 

So when we’re talking about fat, we’re dividing it into subcutaneous, in an easy way to remember is our bodies sink, it just stores shit and visceral, is metabolically active

 

If you haven’t heard of the dangers of visceral fat, then you’ve been living under a rock (crack rock), but nah visceral fat is the metabolically and hormonally active fat that is positioned around our vital organs; heart, liver, stomach, all those things we cant live without. Before I dis visceral fat, we actually need it to survive. Brown fat, chews up energy and produces heat, it keeps us warm.

 

But visceral fat is also sneaky, because its not just a storage sink like subcutaneous (that juiciness good good), its like hi hello, im real, I can release hormones, like estrogen that deposit and get stuck and have a party with me and guess what, we’re hard to get rid of. Or it can be like hey hello I cause inflammatory compounds to get released and create a perpetuating cycle of metabolic disease and inflammation, like T2D, and obesity.

 

That’s visceral fat. That’s what, when we start exercising gets targeted first; which is amazing. Its saving our lives, and also why we don’t notice “results” or changes until training for a while, because our bodies chewing up and sweating out (or rather breathing out) our visceral fat, making us happier and healthier.

 

*fun way to measure your visceral fat without a scan, if you lie down on your back, and your tummy doesn’t flatten and you’ve got a like semi circle bulge asif ya bloated, then ding ding ding viscerals there, and lets work together to get that melted).

 

OKAY so back to cortisol & belly fat. I’ma break it down into 3 key compartments;

1.     Emotional stress

2.    Everyday stress

3.    Environmental stress

 

When we stress about our love life, work life, gym life, family life, friend life, all the live’s, our body sends out stress hormones – cortisol & norepinephrine and we trigger our fight-or-flight response (taking you back to year 10 human bio class). Our heart rate goes up, blood gets shut off to non-life preserving organs / systems e.g digestion, reproduction, we feel alert, our breathing shortens, and we feel like Eminem. This is all g - in a short term scenario, like someone breaks whilst driving suddenly in front of us, BAM, our reflexes kick in, we’re like FULL ON IN FIGHT-OR-FLIGHT, and then ideally in our magical universe, we realise the stress threat is over, and we calm down and our system returns to normal. But hey its 2017, we’ve got emotional stress coming at us in so many forms; our manager and boss’ demanding more of us, customers complaining, fighting with siblings / our boo-thang's, over analysing situations, not being able to break through a plateau (in every aspect of life), and we’re like low-key always stressed, cortisol and NE is like drip drip drip (R Kelly x Dave Chapelle).

Then we’ve got every day stress, traffic, money, foods we eat that trigger a stress response (refined sugar and carbs and trans fat I’m looking at you), man I dunno about you but even my phone going off gives me a mini heart attack sometimes, its like SURPRISE BITCH YOU GOT MAIL.

And then there’s environmental stressors, these sneaky guys we cant really avoid, like pollution, pesticides, herbacides, xenoestrogens in plastic, petrol fumes, fuck whats in our make up, our water, microwaves, its like a never ending horror story haha.

 

And all these stressors keep cortisol on tap, dripping through our adrenals, interfering with weight loss, recovery, sleep, energy, everything. So what do we do?

A) minimise the daily stressors you experience, take time out to breathe, meditate, practice yoga if you into it, do whatever creative artistic, adventurous thing you love to manage the stress

B) cut out the shit that isn’t worth the cortisol aka toxic negative people, change jobs, eat organic, reduce stimulants, do whatever to make you happy and

C) take effective supplements to nurse your adrenals back to optimal health. I LOVE - CORT RX by ATP Science, a good magnesium, and a good B Vitamin complex too.  

 

So if your belly fat is stubborn, or you’ve plateaued, or if you feelin on edge and just know you’re going through a stressful period, implement strategies, take the necessary supplements to just help you manage and decrease that dangerous visceral fat (holla if you want more info/guidance/supps)

 

Next up is oestrogen. Oestrogen is, again, actually crucial for wellbeing, bone density, reproductive health in both guys and gals, sex drive, us developing boobs, all those kinda fun things. But again, just like everything, becomes a problem when our bodies unable to detoxify it effectively from the body (your liver is already doing 54857385475674 things, so we can definitely cut him some slack). When oestrogen isn’t able to be cleared out effectively by our #1 fan the liver, it also accumulates within subcutaneous tissue and is a bitch of a thing – literally. Backs of the arms, love handles, extra juicy thighs for us ladies are the usual landmarks, for guys, backs of arms, breast tissue and also, love handles. You know its oestrogen because it’s cold to touch. It’s not warm, its not metabolically active, it’s just stuck.

 

And before you go blaming soy (which is a phytoestrogen = plant oestrogens, and a wholeeeeeee nother convoluted topic), hol up, plastic, make-up, skin care products, sunscreen, paint, lubricants, insecticides, pesticides, and “the pill” all mimic oestrogen in the body and we call them – xenoestrogens; synthetic oestrogens found in all these random compounds.

 

So we unknowingly (now knowingly) ingest these xenoestrogens into our body, they bind to our receptors and make it even harder for the liver to detox because all of a sudden there’s much more than we ever produced!! What to do?

 

Eat a butt load of the brassica family vegetables; broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, theres so many, magnesium, B vitamins and fibre also, they all aid your liver in phase 2 detoxification which is what we want

 

For guys, same thing. If oestrogen builds up, it negatively impacts your test levels, muscle hypertrophy ability, reproduction, growth, and all the other magical properties of testosterone. With hormones, its all about ratios and balance, which is what we want to get in check. If you’re unsure, you can always get your sex hormones tested and see where your levels are at, and we can go from there. 

 

And now we’re going to bubbi explore why we love testosterone so much, even for women. First of all, fun fact, testosterone is anti-inflammatory and therefore, anti-ageing! WOO! Women make testosterone and then our ovaries convert it to oestrogen, whereas of course men don’t have ovaries so they keep there’s as test.

Testosterone is super great for brain health, anti-aging, stronger muscles meaning we have a higher metabolic rate, exercising also boosts testosterone, and psychologically testosterone is associated with more confidence, certainty and assertiveness. For guys (and women who are looking to build lean muscle), we want to free up bound testosterone, and encourage the release of it, through exercise, effective supps, avoid xenoestrogens, ensure you’re getting adequate zinc, sleep, and good fats in ya diet (coz hormones are made from cholesterol)

 

If we’ve hit a plateau you know its time to switch it up. Diet, exercise, supps, sleep, everything. Assess the key areas that aren’t budging; are they hormone related? Do you need to get your levels checked? How do you feel? And work with your coach / me to address these barriers.

 

ONE LOVE

 

- notorious e.l.i 

References:

Alpha Mars Product Podcast 2017, iTunes, The ATP Project, 5 May 2017, retrieved: 27 July 2017, < https://atpscience.com/podcasts/episode-3-testosterone/>

ATP Science 2017, ‘Estrogen 101’, ATP Science, 23 March 2017, retrieved 1 August 2017, < https://atpscience.com/estrogen-101/>

LaRue, A 2017, Xenoestrogens – What are they? How to avoid them, Women In Balance Institute, retrieved: 27 July 2017, < https://womeninbalance.org/2012/10/26/xenoestrogens-what-are-they-how-to-avoid-them/>