3. Stress Affects Women’s Metabolism, Inhibiting Fat Loss
Of course, stress affects fat loss for everyone, but it’s possible certain kinds of stress are more harmful to women than men.
Stress leads to persistent cortisol secretion, and cortisol’s primary function is to increase blood sugar (bringing with it an insulin spike) so you have enough energy to get through a stressful situation.
When this becomes chronic, the body turns the hormone pregnenolone, which is a precursor to estrogen and testosterone, into progesterone, which is then used to make cortisol and aldosterone. Together these hormones lead to greater fat storage and more fluid retention. Not only will you have more cortisol, but you’ll have less estrogen and testosterone.
Women with lower testosterone than normal have a disadvantage when it comes to fat loss. Although elevated estrogen is not beneficial for loss, low estrogen isn’t either as we saw in #2, because it inhibits the greater fat oxidation that women experience during exercise. The body’s just not working right any more. Everything is out of whack and fat loss simply won’t happen.
What To Do About It?
Find stress management strategies that work for you, whether it’s meditation, yoga, psychological therapy, or something else.
Focus on optimizing your circadian rhythms. Consider that the body operates around a 24-hour circadian clock. Each person’s clock is slightly different, a trait known as chronotype or tendency toward being a morning or evening person. Chronotype reflects the time of the day that someone’s physical functions (hormone level, body temperature, cognitive faculties, eating and sleeping) are active.
When you adhere to your chronotype, you can promote balance and optimal health. When you go against the clock, the innate rhythms are disrupted. This will increase stress and make fat loss much more difficult.