Prolonged Stress Can Tank Metabolism
Studies have shown that hormones play a role in elevating the desire to eat foods containing carbohydrates during prolonged periods of stress. When our brains are notified that we are experiencing stress, they respond by releasing cortisol, a hormone whose primary function is to raise blood sugar and promote the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fat. In response to higher blood sugar levels, the pancreas releases extra insulin, which has the effect of lowering blood sugar rather quickly, causing a craving for foods rich in carbohydrates.
Cortisol is considered a catabolic hormone, which means it breaks down muscle for energy. So while the stress may initially increase your body’s calorie-burning furnace, the loss of muscle — which is one way your body burns calories — may ultimately cause an overall decrease in your metabolism if you experience chronic stress.
There are foods you can eat during a stressful time that will protect your body with antioxidants and boost your energy.
Strawberries are a delicious and natural treat in season now, and when combined with protein-rich cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, offers you a healthy snack that will keep your blood sugar stable.
Salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help improve your mood and help boost energy levels. Salmon is also an excellent source of lean protein, which helps regulate blood sugar levels, and keep you from reaching for unhealthy snacks between meals.
Avocados are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins. The next time stress has you reaching for a pint of full-fat ice cream, enjoy a smoothie made with half an avocado, 1 cup of liquid (nut or dairy milk, juice, coconut water, or water) and the frozen fruit of your choice. You might even want to include blueberries in your smoothie. They may seem small, but just a handful of blueberries pack a powerful punch of antioxidants and vitamin C, making them mighty stress-busters.