Updated: Jan 21
Today I want to talk about 2 big factors in our lives that can affect your energy and productivity. Stress and our Metabolism - 2 words that you are likely familiar with - which are linked together in an intricate web of cause and effect. Sometimes we don’t realize the causes or the effects until it’s too late.
I won’t be able to go into all the details of Metabolism in this episode. If you’re curious and want to learn more, I encourage you to sign up for my upcoming FREE 5-day Metabolic Jumpstart Challenge...I run this challenge 1x each year in my Free Facebook Group, UPLIFT Habit Shift. We go into more details and I’ll show you 5 habits you can implement to boost your metabolism. I hope to see you there!
What is Metabolism
Metabolism is a process within your body that turns food into energy…and it affects how your body processes fuel, both how fast and how much.
On a scientific level, metabolism is a complex biochemical process that your body uses to convert what you eat and drink into energy. Biochemical, meaning there’s different chemical reactions, that happen within your body
Metabolism happens at its most basic level in your cells - where the calories in everything you eat and drink are combined with oxygen. This process releases the energy your body needs to function.
In order to stay alive, move around, etc, you need a certain amount of energy - which comes in the form of calories from food, OR you can retrieve it from stored energy (as in, your fat tissue). Your metabolism helps make this energy available to your body.
The energy conversion process is controlled by numerous hormones…including:
🎯 Thyroxine from your Thyroid - controls your basal metabolic rate, which is the number of calories your body needs for basic functions
🎯 Insulin from your Pancreas - takes glucose from the blood for energy
🎯 Cortisol from your Adrenal gland - stimulates the liver to increase production of blood sugar; helps the body convert fat, protein and carbs into usable energy
🎯 Leptin from your Small Intestine - regulates appetite, energy intake and expenditure
🎯 Grehlin from your stomach - increases appetite
…just to name a few - and you can see how many different areas of your body get involved.
So, as I’ve said, your metabolism is responsible for converting food into energy, and your hormones play a large role in this process. Changes in how this system works can slow your metabolism and cause potential problems, which the American Psychological Association, in an article about stress & metabolism, outlines as:
Health complications, such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes
Reduced effectiveness of the immune system
Your personal metabolic burn (whether it’s fast or slow) depends on many things. Some are outside your control … like your genetics and gender. But you do have control over a LOT of the other factors … like your activity level, sleep and even how stressed you feel!
Let’s talk about Stress baby!
Stress affects your body’s hormones, including all the hormones I just mentioned involved with Metabolism. Stress can cause a change in how your energy conversion system (aka metabolism) works, which can cause potential problems.
So - let’s take a look at how Stress can affect your Metabolism
When we are faced with stress, your body goes into a sympathetic nervous system response as it prepares your body for a fight or flight. Your digestive system is paused so energy can be diverted to other areas of the body. Your heart rate increases to improve the delivery of oxygen to other parts of the body. Energy stores in your liver are activated to provide your body with energy that can be used quickly.
When you’re in a stressful situation where your sympathetic nervous system has to respond quickly, you might feel an Adrenaline rush. In that adrenaline rush, the adrenal gland also releases cortisol. I mentioned cortisol a bit earlier with the hormones involved in Metabolism.
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone and it increases sugars, or glucose, into the bloodstream. It pauses certain bodily functions, and slows your metabolism.
What happens during the stress response that affects your metabolism?
Almost immediately, you can start burning fewer calories. A study done a few years ago at Ohio State found that stress was linked to burning fewer calories for women.
In the study, women were fed a high-fat, high-calorie meal. Those who reported being under a lot of stress the day before burned 100+ FEWER calories than the women who weren’t under stress.
Plus, the stressed-out women had higher insulin levels, which can exacerbate fat storage.
→ this means that if you’re in a chronic stressed out state - being stressed all or most of the time, your body is working against your weight loss goals b/c it is in this stress response and your body is trying to store fat while you’re busy doing all you can to reduce it.
You start to crave high-fat, high-sugar foods, thanks to the extra cortisol (that primary stress hormone) in your system.
→ Cortisol binds to receptors in your brain that manage hunger and stimulate appetite. Your brain is looking for instant gratification and
Emotional eating. Snacking on those fatty, sugary comfort foods can fire up your brain’s reward centers, giving you temporary relief. Over time, this can become a habit or go-to method of self-soothing.
These less-than-healthy comfort foods can leave you feeling blah and tired, affect your mood, and set you up for feeling even worse.
PLUS … studies show “ultra-processed” (like the fatty/sugary foods in the studies) actually cause you to eat more than you would if you ate healthier foods.
How to manage stress and minimize affect on metabolism
So, what can you do to reduce the effects of stress on your metabolism?
Stress is a natural part of life, and it hits all of us eventually. It could be from a job with constant deadline pressures … relationship or financial issues … and it can even come in the form of “good” stress, like a new baby in the house!
The most important thing you can do is to BE AWARE and listen to your body.
Be mindful about how you are feeling … and what you are eating. This lets you stay in (or regain) control. If you find yourself stressed or tense, take note!
Take regular anti-stress breaks. Sometimes you have to be sneaky. I know of several people who make solo grocery trips and stand in the longest checkout line to extend their “alone” time.
Also, experiment with meditation or breathing exercises a couple times a day. One of my favorite breathing exercises is a simple 4:4 Balanced Breath…inhale to a count of 4, exhale to a count of 4…all through your nose. Taking 10 rounds of this in a few short minutes can help to ease stress in your day.
Make time for exercise. This can help with stress management and boost your metabolism in the process. This doesn’t have to be a punishing workout at the gym…A brisk walk counts!
Honor your needs. Just because someone in your life has an urgent need doesn’t mean your own needs are less important. Make time for YOU!
Again, the top 4 ways you can reduce stress and its effects on your metabolism are:
Take regular anti-stress breaks
Make time for exercise
Honor your needs.
As we close out today’s episode…
Now, I’d like to offer you an Energizing Action you can try today or this week:
Try the 4:4 balanced breathing exercise - multiple times throughout your day. Take 10 rounds, breathing in to a count of 4, breathing out to a count of 4.
And don't forget my upcoming FREE challenge that starts next week on SEPT 19…the 5-day Metabolic Jumpstart Challenge. We'll explore habits to boost our metabolic burn for more energy, weight loss, and to feel better overall.
In this challenge we’ll cover:
The workouts you need to do to jumpstart your metabolism
The specific foods that’ll help you get faster results
Stress and its connection to your metabolism (and what to do about it)
How sleep can help you lose more body fat, if that’s a goal
The most overlooked component of metabolism (that can actually be FUN!!)
When you do register (again, it’s FREE), you’ll have the OPTION to upgrade to the VIP option, for $17, where you’ll get access to a private group Zoom call where we dive deeper into metabolism and you can ask your questions live.
That’s what I have for you today. If you found it valuable, please like it, leave a review, share it with someone else who might find it valuable.
If you have any questions about creating a healthy lifestyle that works for you, please send them my way! FB or Instagram messenger under UPLIFT Healthy Lifestyle or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have an energized day!
RESOURCES & LINKS MENTIONED IN THE SHOW:
My upcoming FREE 5-day Metabolic Jumpstart Challenge starts September 19.
Over 5 days we'll cover the small nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle changes you need to make to fire up your energy burn.
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