Why your stress is pulling handbrakes on your Fat-Loss, Strength Gains & Muscle Building Goals!!!
So often we simply ignore signs of stress until it is too late.
It’s often not until chronic fatigue, migraines, insomnia or autoimmune disease present themselves that we realize that stress may be a contributing factor! By this stage you may not be able to function and will likely see your Doctor, who may or may not address the root cause for you feeling like death warmed up for the last few weeks or more.
There are two types of stress;
What happens inside our body
How we perceive the world
Common Internal Stressors include: lack of food, alcohol, gluten, diary, soy, processed foods, smoking, stimulants (caffeine & pre-workouts), dehydration, antibiotics, prescription drugs and recreational drug use.
Internal Stressors should be avoided at all costs as generally we are personally in control of these. this really highlights the importance of nutrition, sleep, gut health & recovery strategies.
Typical External Stressors include: anxiety, pressures of work/study, financial pressure, relationships, physical stress such as exercise or labor-intensive work, poor sleep quality & lack of sleep being a major stress on the body.
It’s important to note that everyone perceives stress differently and there are individuals who are more at risk of stress & fatigue such as shift workers (Fifo workers), Mums & Business owners or Sub-contractors.
Acute or short-term external stressors are part of living a normal healthy life, however when this turns into chronic or long-term external and/or internal stress the body begins to produce too much Cortisol (Stress Hormone). This can cause disruptions to your sleep and can begin to take hold of not only the brain but also your physiology & body composition.
Recognised effects of chronic stress (but not limited to) include:
- Disrupted hormones ( low testosterone in men).
- Increased cravings for carbs (especially at night time or afternoon).
- Short term memory loss.
- Increased fat storage around the belly.
- Insomnia or poor sleep quality.
- Low energy levels, mid-day crash, “wired but tired”!
- Low sex drive.
- Thyroid dysfunction = lowered metabolism & fat gain!
- Fluid retention.
- Deficiency’s in: Vitamin C & Vitamin B2, B5, B6 & B12.
In terms of your physique and fitness, high stress has been shown to have negative effects compared to lower stress conditions:
- Less than half the amount of strength development.
- Increased appetite.
- More carbohydrate cravings.
- Poorer carb tolerance and impaired nutrient partitioning (i.e. what you eat will be stored as fat as opposed to building muscle tissue.)
- Reduced energy expenditure.
- Can take up to twice as long to recover post workout.
The good news is that stress can be managed through lifestyle changes, smart nutrition & some supplementation where necessary!
Relaxing in nature is a great way to de-stress!
Quick Tips to release that handbrake on your health, strength & body composition goals this year!
- Make sleep a priority!
Ask your coach about sleep tips such as avoiding screen time & bright lights before bedtime. Turning devices to flight mode 1 hour before bed can be hugely beneficial. Trilogy Gabamag & Yin Reserve are two amazing natural products to have in the evening for those who are struggling.
- Make an effort to resolve the root cause of your problems when they occur. Such as calling a mechanic straight away when your car breaks down!
- Be more intuitive with how you are feeling! If you feel tired & flat perhaps take a rest day from training, take some time out, go for a walk outside & go to bed earlier.
- Taking time out for yourself during the day such as eating your lunch outside in the sun without the distractions of work.
- If you’re working an 8am to 5pm day, try to be the most productive in the first half of the day i.e. this could mean training in the morning for those that can?
- Meditation or Mindfulness is scientifically backed to improve coping with the stressors of life. This is not for everyone but gets great results for a lot of people! But if this sounds too hard for you try simply taking a quiet walk outside or sitting/lying in the sun – even for 10 minutes can give your brain a reboot leaving you feeling refreshed!
- Positive self-talk & imagery can really help & is used among many professional athletes to cope in high pressure situations.
- Practice being more flexible! If life isn’t going the way you planned – being open to changing your game plan and adapting is key!
- Practice Gratitude, this could be writing 3 things you are grateful for every night before bed.
“It’s not stress that kills us it’s our reaction to it”
References:(Cracking the metabolic code: Dr James B LaValle.), (Bayesian Bodybuilding.com).