Stress Fat - Is Stress Causing Your Belly Fat And Tiredness?

Written by Switch Nutrition, 18 July 2021

Stress Fat - Is Stress Causing Your Belly Fat And Tiredness?

Have you ever asked one of the following questions… “how do I just shift fat off my belly?” or, “I can’t lose weight no matter what I do” or “I lose weight and it comes straight back!!!”.

Did you know STRESS could be the major culprit?

Being in a calorie deficit is important and so is monitoring your macro’s, however your hormones and looking after the glands that produce them are equally important.

In fact, your thyroid controls your metabolic rate. It regulates how many calories you burn and store. STRESS is a major contributor to thyroid or metabolic dysfunction.

So, what is the major stress hormone that is a problem?

Cortisol: This life sustaining stress hormone released by your adrenal glands has many benefits acutely to get you out of danger and improve your response to stress. However, chronically may lead to many health concerns including…

  • Weight Gain
  • Inability To Lose Weight
  • Muscle Loss
  • Slow Thyroid Function
  • Estrogen Dominance
  • Blood Sugar Issues (Type 2 Diabetes)
  • Leaky Gut
  • Lowered Sex Drive
  • Skin Breakouts
  • Hair Loss
  • Low Energy
  • Anxiety
  • Constipation or Diarrhea
  • Loss Of Happiness
  • Lack Of Motivation

How does stress (cortisol) effect thyroid function and result in weight gain?

How does stress lead to weight gain

Cortisol works on a negative feedback loop with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain. The hypothalamus signals the pituitary to tell the adrenals (HPA Axis) to release cortisol. So, when cortisol is in the blood the body tells the hypothalamus to slow down.

The problem is the Hypothalamus also controls the thyroid gland and as it slows so does your thyroid. This makes sense because in a state of stress (cortisol) your body wants to conserve energy, so slowing your thyroid function which slows your metabolism, achieves this survival mechanism.

You have two major types of thyroid hormones… T4 (Inactive) and T3 (Active). Your thyroid produces exclusively T4 and then your body converts it to the active T3. However, elevated cortisol reduces the enzymes responsible for this conversion. So even when your levels of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) and T4 are normal (within range), you may still have low T3 and a slow metabolism resulting in weight gain, tiredness and an inability to lose weight.

Reverse T3 (RT3) is the antagonist (opposite) to T3. The best way to think about this relationship is T3 is an accelerator for your metabolism and RT3 is the brakes. RT3 binds to the same thyroid receptors on the surface of cells preventing T3 attaching. Stress increases the production of RT3 keeping the brakes on your metabolism and fat burning.

With stress comes inflammation, insulin resistance, tiredness and a lack of motivation. This can reduce your desire to exercise and your body’s ability to use carbohydrates effectively. This leads to carbs storing as body fat.

Inflammation also causes the release of cytokines which reduces thyroid receptor sensitivity so any circulating free T3 can’t fully activate your metabolism.

Chronic release of cortisol also leads to Estrogen dominance. Excess estrogen increases the number of fat cells in your body. The accumulation of this fat is generally around the belly, hips butt and thigh.

Excess estrogen also increases Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG). TBG is a protein that helps thyroid hormone travel through your body, but when T4 is bound to too much TBG it is inactive and can’t convert to Free T3.

Stress can affect gut permeability causing leaky gut. Leaky gut has been linked as a cause of auto immune disease which may manifest as Hashimoto’s otherwise known as ‘thyroid auto immune disease’.

When your immune system starts attacking your thyroid gland you are sure to experience negative effects to your metabolism, sleep, mood, skin, hair, weight gain and overall energy and health.

Think of stress (cortisol) as the starting domino that knocks over the others.

STRESS -> Thyroid Dysfunction -> Estrogen Dominance -> Weight Gain -> Tiredness

Stressed

Here are 12 steps to reduce cortisol, boost your metabolism, reduce belly fat and get your energy back.

1. Sleep

Getting adequate amounts of sleep is critical for hormone balance. 7.5 hours unbroken sleep is preferential. However, taking naps away from your main sleep cycle to catch up is a good idea if you cannot get 7.5 hours.

If you have difficulty switching off, try Adrenal Switch™ after dinner. It’s a delicious treat that will curb your sugar cravings and support a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

You will have more energy the next day and feel motivated to achieve.

2. Selenium

Make sure you are getting enough of this micromineral. The enzyme that converts T4 into the active T3 is selenium dependent.

You will find selenium in Estro Switch™ which combines with a number of all-natural herbal and nutritive ingredients to support your metabolism, manage stress, balance hormones, support energy and improve hair, skin and nails.

3. Meditate, Yoga, Breath Work or Mindfulness

Having time to yourself away from the daily grind and constant stimulation can be the most important thing you can do for your health and metabolism. Reducing anxiety with breath work and slowing your breathing can quickly reduce your stress.

4. Greens

Eat them, drink them… just make sure you get them. Leafy greens are a great source of phytonutrients that are precursors to thyroid hormones and other critical hormones and enzymes.

They also help chelate toxins out of the body for improved metabolic health.

Vitality Switch™ is an award winning, great tasting source of polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. In fact, 1 serve is equivalent to 8 serves of veges. This is a daily non-negotiable.

5. Zinc

More than 75% of the population is Zinc insufficient. This mineral is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in your body including the conversion of T4 to T3 like selenium. Zinc is also critical in balancing sex hormones and improves insulin sensitivity. It can be found in Adrenal Switch™, Alpha Switch™ & Estro Switch™.

6. Tyrosine

This non-essential amino acid makes up the backbone of thyroid hormones. The ‘T’ in T4 stands for Tyrosine and the 4 is the amount of iodine attached. You will find Tyrosine in the natural thermogenic Thermal Switch™ or Keto Switch™ for this reason, and to help boost your metabolism, focus and energy.

7. Avoid Fluoride

This compound is a halide that displaces or competes with Iodine and may prevent sufficient iodine being available to make your thyroid hormones.

8. Salt and Sun in the Morning

Pink salt or Himalayan salt in your water first thing in the morning helps kickstart your adrenals and enhances the production of cortisol.

This is a good thing as this is the time when cortisol should be at its highest. Bright sunlight on your skin and eyeballs (don’t look directly into the sun) can also help as an early morning ritual to manage stress & weight.

9. Coffee

The most consumed beverage on the planet is loaded with antioxidants and metabolic boosting compounds. However, having a coffee too close to bed can disrupt your sleep.

You can now get coffee (like Coffee Switch™) that is loaded with adaptogens and nutrients to help provide more focus, alertness and mood elevation that may result in a lowered stress response and greater weight loss.

10. Alcohol

Although alcohol seems like a sedative and a relaxant, it often contains extra calories and can disrupt your deep (delta) sleep. This is the sleep that is restorative, fat burning and muscle building.

This is also the sleep that reduces responsive stress. Therefore, minimising belly fat and increasing energy the next day.

11. Music

Listening to nostalgic music that makes you happy and gets you singing is scientifically proven to boost your mood and lower your cortisol (stress hormones). If you want to burn some extra calories… dance!

As you can see there is a very real relationship between stress and a lowered metabolism (thyroid function), leading to body fat accumulation (especially around the belly) or an inability to burn fat no matter how hard you try.

In fact, if you continue to exercise vigorously in this state of dysfunction you may cause further damage and extend recovery time.

Controlling cortisol by implementing these strategies may help increase your energy, fat burning, boost mood, focus and general health while reducing your stress and hormone imbalances.

PRO TIP: Having Adrenal Switch™ as a dessert by mixing 1 serve into coconut or Greek yoghurt is not only delicious but helps reduce sugar cravings and supports better quality regenerative sleep where you wake up feeling amazing.

Disclaimer: The above article is merely a guide and is in no way a recommendation or a treatment protocol for any health conditions or diseases. You should always consult with a qualified health care provider before changing your supplement, training, or nutritional strategy. Supplementation should not be attempted by pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone on prescription medication or children under the age of 15 unless advised by your qualified health care provider.

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