Stress and Fat Loss

Stress is a change in your physiological state in response to what our bodies believe to be a dangerous situation. Your body is regulated by the autonomic nervous system. It balances your physiology between calm and stressful states of being.

Stress plays a role in your ability to lose body fat and or build muscle mass. There’s two states of the autonomic nervous system:

  1. The first being the Parasympathetic state which is when you’re calm. This
    allows your body to digest food and absorb nutrients. This state allows you to
    recover, grow and lose fat.
  2. The second state is the Sympathetic state. The fight or flight response. This
    state isn’t bad unless your stress is heightened for too long. In fact, we need
    the correct amount of stress to disrupt homeostasis to allow muscle growth
    and fat loss. Stress hormones in your bloodstream mobilizes stored body fat
    back to the blood stream to be burnt off.

We want to enter this state when we train and then immediately come out of it and come back to the parasympathetic state once done.

I don’t know what your stressors are but a list of examples:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Work
  • Relationships
  • Poor body image
  • Financials
  • Dehydration
  • Smoking/alcohol
  • Over-training

Stress these days is unlike the stress that hunters & gatherers experienced. Today, it’s more emotional than it is physical. Your chances of being attacked by a lion are much slimmer.

So, what can you do about it?
There are ways to manage. It becomes a big issue when your stress hormones (particularly cortisol) are chronically elevated.

  • Breathing techniques
  • Guided meditation (I use headspace)
  • Reading
  • Journaling
  • Stretching
  • Slow walks
  • Massages
  • Stepping away from social media


Creating a bedtime routine can be extremely helpful if you have a hard time getting to sleep and staying asleep. I recommend magnesium, and melatonin to clients as well as turning your phone off 30min/hour before bed.

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Erica Weber

Fitness Lover

Posted On

March 26, 2019

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