How Stress Causes Weight Gain
Your walnut-sized adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys, cannot distinguish among the various stresses that are present in your life — whether they are physical, mental, or emotional. The adrenals just pump out hormones to counteract stress — any stress! They are “fight or flight” hormones intended to serve us for short periods only. But today’s stresses are anything but short term … so the hormones just keep flowing! If this persists, you can become an “adrenal type” of person — one who has overactive and/or exhausted adrenals.
This is very serious business because your quality of life depends so very much upon how well your adrenal glands work. Visible symptoms develop with persistent adrenal imbalances. Chief among them is hanging fat in the midsection that sags downward over the belly.
Thinned-out arms, legs and buttocks generally accompany this fat because the key hormone that prevails during stress (cortisol) converts these muscles to sugar in an attempt to create more energy for a continually stressed body. With thinned muscles and a large abdomen, adrenal types often have a hard time finding clothes that fit. Moreover, stress hormones in excess will steal protein from the bones, leading to osteoporosis.
Sometimes a fat pad develops in the lower neck and upper back called a “buffalo hump.” Also, fat accumulation in the face may give a round or “moon face” appearance, a face that may redden because of weakened blood vessels.
So why does the extra fat appear? With all this sugar pouring into the bloodstream through the action of stress fighting hormones, the fat-burning hormones of the liver get turned off. Not even high-protein or low-calorie diets will turn them back on again! Then fat accumulates on the belly because of the excess sugar thrown into the blood to meet “dangers” that don’t exist. In the meantime, insulin stores the extra sugar as fat to keep your blood sugar levels out of the danger range.
In other words, stress hormones prevent fat burning. Counting calories or eating more protein simply will not help you.
To make matters worse, some adrenal types will try to work off fat with heavy exercise. But this just creates more stress and more stress hormones. Result? Less muscle and even more fat!
Sounds strange, doesn’t it, but it’s true. Many of those with adrenal weakness will actually get fatter as they continue to cut the calories and put in longer hours in the gym. Can you imagine how frustrated adrenal types can get with their exercise programs?
Fortunately, adrenal imbalances can be corrected to turn muscle-burning adrenal types into fat burners again.
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