Do you pay attention to a healthy, moderate diet and also do sport regularly – and still you don’t want to shed excess pounds? If you sleep poorly or experience great stress far too often, this may be the problem with losing weight. Because: Stress can actually make you fat.

What does relaxation have to do with weight loss?

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A look back into the prehistoric times of human development explains why stress, relaxation, and weight are interrelated. Our primeval physiological principle is designed in such a way that our sympathetic nervous system reacts to stress: This part of the autonomic nervous system increases performance, consumes a lot of energy, and automatically puts the organism in readiness to flee and fight in the event of danger. The hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol are released, which enable a quick reaction with a lot of energy.

This is still the case today in our performance-oriented society. In the event of stress, the physical stress response is automatically activated. The only difference is that we no longer have to flee as we used to, but mostly sit in front of the computer in the office or home office.

If we stay in this constant stress without letting the antagonist of the sympathetic nervous system, i.e., the parasympathetic nervous system, have a balancing and calming effect, this brings us into a permanent, unhealthy imbalance. Stress leads to a permanently high level of cortisol – which in turn promotes weight gain. The reason: The chronically increased cortisol production allows the body to build up its own fat stores constantly. Stress can literally make you fat.

Therefore, it is necessary to create a balance with relaxation techniques to build up the body’s own reserves again, stimulate various metabolic processes, and regenerate.

Why is the regulation of cortisone important for losing weight?

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With permanent activation of the sympathetic nervous system, i.e., activating the autonomic nervous system, too much cortisol is released. The chronically increased cortisol concentration leads to reduced absorption of sugar in the blood and in the tissue. It can lead to a permanent increase in blood sugar up to diabetes mellitus and various other stress-related health disorders.

To lower the cortisol level, moderate endurance training is recommended. However, it can be very difficult for highly performance-oriented people to lower their blood sugar levels in this way and to get high blood pressure and obesity under control. The same applies to regular relaxation phases to avoid a consistently high cortisol level in general.

Which health disorders can typically be caused by stress?

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In fact, countless diseases can be related to stress. To name just a few:

high blood pressure
Sudden hearing loss
sleep disorders
Blood lipid increase
Exhaustion (burn-out, depression, loss of performance)
Heart attack
Obesity
Many of these diseases can be counteracted positively with exercise, nutrition, and regular relaxation – and this also applies to overweight.

What does good sleep have to do with weight loss?

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Our immune and hormonal systems can regenerate during sleep. If, however, it is difficult to find sleep due to the stress of the past day or if you do not want to sleep through, relaxation exercises can be helpful.

Basically, and naturally, the body wants to sleep through the night. When we sleep, it releases the hormone leptin, and ghrelin is suppressed. Leptin regulates the feeling of satiety. If there is a disorder due to sleep problems, the hormonal opponent can become active and cause feelings of hunger.

For most people, seven to nine hours of good quality restful sleep is important to maintain a healthy weight.

 

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