How Stress Eating Is Linked To 11-Pound Yearly Weight Gain

Stress makes you fat, fact (but don't panic - that will only make it worse)

Under stress some instinctively reach for snacks and nibbles – seems that this is a distant relative to nail biting. But the results of indiscriminate snacking in these situations can be unexpected. What is going on and what can we do about it. Read about this new study.

Stress eating tends to be associated with reaching for high-fat comfort foods that everybody knows are unhealthy. But it’s not just the calories consumed during stress eating that negatively impact one’s weight— stress itself could be throwing off metabolism, too.

In new study from The Ohio State University (OSU), researchers found that women who experienced stress in the previous 24 hours burned 104 fewer calories than non-stressed women in the time after eating a high-fat meal— which adds up to the equivalent of 11 pounds gained annually.

For the study, 58 women with an average age of 53 were given three standardized meals the previous day and then were instructed to fast for 12 hours before reporting for their study visit. Then, on the day of the study, the women were fed a meal consisting of eggs, turkey sausage, biscuits and gravy. The meal, which was 60 percent fat, was the equivalent of a fast food meal of a loaded two-patty hamburger and French fries. Each of the participants went through with the experiment two times.

“It’s really the equivalent of grabbing a fast food meal,” Kiecolt-Glaser, also director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine at OSU, said. “When people are stressed, depressed and in a hurry, we don’t usually reach for broccoli unless it has a lot of hollandaise on it.”

Before each round of the experiment, study participants also filled out a daily inventory of stressful events (DISE) test, which objectively measures stress levels. The most reported issues were interpersonal problems, such as trouble with children, work-related pressures or disagreements with spouses.

Researchers found that women who had at least one stressor in the previous 24 hours burned 104 fewer calories than women who reported no stressors the day before. They also found that women who had reported stressors showed a higher rise in insulin levels following the meal. Previous research suggests that stress and depression may promote insulin resistance and the data from this experiment shows one mechanism through which that could occur, researchers said.

Researchers concluded that their findings should offer motivation for people to keep healthful foods nearby at all times.

“When you’re feeling stressed and depressed, really keep an eye on what you might be reaching for as your first choice. Keep healthy snacks in the fridge that you can grab easily because those are the times you are less likely to want to prepare something,” Kiecolt-Glaser said. “People can’t easily avoid stress in their lives… but it’s recognizing it and trying to change behavior around it.”

Related studies have shown that stress can cause short-term memory loss in older and adults and even shorten lifespan. 

The researched was published in Biological Psychiatry.

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

article source: By Nicole KwanPublished July 14,
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