Stress has often been connected with gaining weight, usually from comfort eating and making unhealthy food choices (like takeaways) when we are too busy and feel too pressured to make a healthy meal.
A study from the Ohio State University has found evidence that links stress with a slower metabolism and a reduced ability to use up stored fats as food.
58 participants, all female and of an average age of 53, were given a calorie controlled meal of 930 calories, and monitored after eating it. They were also assessed to define their current level of stress.
Six of the participants were found to be ‘relaxed’ compared to the others who had high levels of stress. However, those who were stressed were found to burn an average 104 calories less than the relaxed participants.
Although 104 calories doesn’t sound like a huge amount, over the course of a year, it is estimated that this could add up to 11 pounds.
This is thought to be related to an increased amount of insulin in their bodies, which helps to convert sugar into fuel or fat, and the fact that fats were more likely to be stored in an un-oxidised state which makes them harder for the body to break down.
This, compounded with the fact we tend to eat unhealthier when under stress, indicates that weight is more likely to be gained.
The study was very limited however, and didn’t look at the correlation between men’s weight and stress, so it is unknown how it affects males. But we should all always strive for a healthy, balanced diet, particularly when things are getting tough for us at work or at home because it can help us feel healthier and more up to dealing with stresses.