Can Stress Cause Weight Gain?

June 18, 2018

Are you gaining weight and you don’t understand why? Have you ever considered that the stress you are dealing with may be the cause? Listen in as we talk about how long-term, ongoing stress can actually lead to weight gain.

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KARA: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. This is brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Are you gaining weight and you just don't understand why? Well, have you ever considered that the stress that you're dealing with might be the cause? My name is Kara Carper. I'm a licensed nutritionist. Today we're going to talk about how long term ongoing stress can actually lead to weight gain. And joining me in the studio as my cohost is Carolyn Hudson, she's a registered and licensed dietitian.

CAROLYN:  Well, good morning to you, Kara, and all of our listeners. For almost 30 years we've heard the cause of weight gain was what? Too many calories in and not enough exercise to move those calories out, but weight gain and weight loss is so much more than calories in and calories out. And that whole thing, calories in, calories out is all about blaming the victim rather than investigating the real reason why someone is gaining weight.

KARA:  So true. Today we want to help you understand how ongoing stress can cause your adrenal glands to release a hormone called cortisol. Many of you have probably heard of cortisol and that excess cortisol really tends to put on particularly belly fat.

CAROLYN:Yeah. So have you ever really wondered why we store fat on certain areas of our bodies? The answer really is all about hormones.

KARA:  And that may come as a surprise to you, but our metabolism doesn't just decide, okay, today I'm going to burn fat, or today I'm going to store fat just based on the calories that we're consuming. There's so much more to it. It's the quality of the calories and it's our hormones that also determine whether we're going to burn or store fat at the end of the day.

CAROLYN: Well, I'm going to restate that just a little differently because that's really, really important.  Okay, so your metabolism makes the decision to burn or store body fat based on the quality of the food that you're consuming and your hormones. So the quality of the food you eat matters so much. We know that, right Kara?

KARA:  Yes. Yes. So we do that when you talk about that all the time.

CAROLYN: That is why at Nutritional Weight & Wellness that we always say food matters. High quality foods such as vegetables, grass-fed meats and beneficial fat, encourage the release of those fat burning hormones. While those low quality foods such as lots of sugar and processed carbs, they actually encourage fat storing hormones to be released. So we say change your nutrition to turn on your fat burning hormones.

KARA: Right. And so kind of what you were just saying, so just to give listeners maybe an example, you know, a hundred calories of a bagel looks very different than 100 calories of eggs.

CAROLYN: Yeah, absolutely.

KARA: They're not the same.

CAROLYN:  It's the quality of the food.

KARA: And we'll keep talking more about that. When you hear the word hormones, do you typically think of a moody teenager or maybe a pregnant woman comes to mind? That's what people often associate with the word hormones. Do you realize though that your hormones actually play a huge role in how you metabolize your food and create energy and how you store fat or don't store fat.

CAROLYN:   I think that is a kind of a new concept or at least a new concept for a lot of our clients and maybe our listeners as well.

KARA: It's all about hormones when it comes to burning or storing fat. And a good place to understand your hormonal imbalances is to kind of look at your personal areas of where you tend to gain weight. So think to yourself, where in your body have you put on extra weight? Where do you tend to gain it first and maybe lose it last?

CAROLYN:  We ask that question a lot, don't we?

KARA:  Yeah, because it's going to be different for everyone and so today we're gonna really focus on weight gain that is centered in the belly area, that belly fat. We know belly fat can be a result of an increased release of that hormone called cortisol. Cortisol often is released in response to too much stress. So are you living under too much stress so that your adrenal glands are just creating way too much cortisol and that's causing that extra belly fat?

CAROLYN: Belly fat has been linked to our stress levels as we were just saying and unfortunately when we're stress that hormone cortisol is released from our adrenal glands and causes our body to store fat right in our belly.

KARA: A Yale researcher found that women who had more belly fat also had more stress and even more negative thoughts. So all of that kind of went along together, which is really interesting.

CAROLYN: When we're stressed, why do we put on that abdominal fat? We actually have more receptors for cortisol in the fat in our stomach than anywhere else in our body, so therefore that hormone cortisol stores fat there. So when we gain weight, we most commonly think, hmm, I'm eating too much, but maybe not. It may be due to stress.

KARA: Actually, we were talking about this before this show, Carolyn. Abdominal fat has four times more cortisol receptors than any other fat cells in our body, so that's really why stress induced cortisol fat goes to our belly. It's because we have all of those receptors.

CAROLYN: Really? Did you just say that abdominal fat has four times more cortisol receptors? Wow. I didn't know exactly how many. I knew we had a lot of cortisol receptors there.

KARA: We knew that there is a correlation with stress and belly fat, but that's exactly why. It's kind of interesting.

CAROLYN: Very interesting. So when we're stressed, our adrenal glands actually release more cortisol and more glucose, so we have the energy like to run away from harm or the strength to do some of those super human feats in order to rescue somebody who's pinned underneath a car, for example. And long ago this stress may have saved our lives allowing us to bolt quickly from a pack of wolves or something like that. But in those rare situations, then that glucose would have been burned up and not stored as fat because of that excess energy output. However, today our stress is different and we are not typically running away in danger.

KARA: We're not running away from wolves on a regular basis.

CAROLYN:Therefore that extra glucose that's released under those stressful conditions is stored as belly fat.

KARA: So today, you know, our stressors might be a high credit card balance, a crabby boss that we have to deal with every day. Maybe like Carolyn and I experienced today, the traffic and the construction and the rainstorm. But you know, a lot of people have that on their daily commute to and from every day. Maybe your stress comes from being a caregiver, you know, it could be for a spouse, a partner, a parent, a child, or maybe your stress comes from an upcoming divorce. So think about this for a minute. What current life event is putting stress on you and could be causing you to gain more weight?

CAROLYN:  Yeah, that's a good question to think about. So our society today is overloaded with stress. You know, perhaps your stress comes from the HR department saying your job's been eliminated or maybe a veterinarian just called you saying that your dog has cancer, or a letter from your mortgage company delivering saying, oops, your house is now in foreclosure, or maybe it's even pulling an all-nighter to finish a report due in the morning for a meeting. Or maybe it's just being overwhelmed with your children's schedules. Those are all emotional stressors.

KARA:  So those are emotional stressors. There are a lot of physical stressors as well. Things like having a big surgery or any kind of surgery, actually. Training for a marathon. We think of that as a positive thing, but it's important to remember that that hardcore of training is a physical stressor on the body. Maybe the physical stressor is eating too much sugar or drinking too much alcohol or soda. It could be from skipping meals, eating fast food. It's estimated that 75 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care doctors are stress related problems. So how can you put your stress response, which is that cortisol response into remission so you stop gaining weight. How can you get in control of your stressors? And we'll talk more about that.

CAROLYN:  Yes, after our first break, it's already time for our first break. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition and many of you have taken our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss Series maybe last year or five years ago and now you want to reconnect because you know that our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss plan works really well when you're actually working it. We know that junk foods or processed foods can easily slide in and take you away from feeling great. Maybe it's time to get back to healthy eating and getting the support you need to make the changes so you can feel great again. We have several Nutrition 4 Weight Loss classes starting in July. Call 651-699-3438 or go to to sign up.

KARA: Welcome back. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. We're talking about stress today and how that can create more cortisol in the body and weight gain, so if you're living in constant stress and just can't figure out how to eat to manage that stress, I know I'm confident that an individual appointment with one of our Weight & Wellness nutritionists or dietitians would truly help you. They can help you unscramble your stressful thoughts and just kind of put some order into your life and to your eating. Healthy eating is one of the best ways to manage stress, so you could call 651-699-3438 and talk to a front desk staff member to set up an appointment or just ask questions if you have questions about that. Before break we were kind of talking about the different kinds of stressors and Carolyn went over a lot of the emotional stressors that we all deal with on a pretty daily basis, but then also there's those physical stressors in one of those is like eating too much sugar, drinking soda, alcohol.

CAROLYN:  We really can't control a lot of our environmental stressors such as being a caregiver, which I have been in the past. Or having a really stressful job. That's two things that I can personally relate to because during both of those times when I was a caregiver, I'd often plan, okay, we're going to the doctor, I'll be home by noon. And then guess what? I didn't get home until like four. Unfortunately, I didn't always plan right. And things just happen when you're a caregiver. So it's really, really hard to be at your best when you're not eating really properly, when you haven't planned or you didn't bring your food. And same with that stressful job. I noticed that belly fat adding on after a few years in a really stressful situation at a job. And that's not good either. The thing that we can control in those situations is our food. And so are you aware that every single time that you drink a can of soda or drink one of those coffee mochas or eat donuts or even pizza, you're putting undue stress on your adrenal glands and then you have more cortisol released into your bloodstream going straight to those fat cells in your abdominal area resulting in more belly fat. I encourage our listeners today to think about those stressors in their life. What's causing that abdominal body fat, you know?

KARA:  Sure. Thank you for sharing your stories of being a caregiver and having a stressful job. It reminds me of a client that I had a while back who was, I said, well, what do you do for, for work? And she said, well, I'm a full time caregiver for my dad, he has Alzheimer's. He was not in a home so she was going over to, I believe it was his apartment, every day from, I don't know, the hours were eight to seven or something. We had to talk a lot about packing. She had to pack her food, like she was going to a job because she wasn't eating. She was stressed. She wanted to lose weight but couldn't. So I think that's a very common situation.

CAROLYN: And the stressful jobs. I know we all counsel a lot of different people. Teachers, now they're all out for the summer, kind of, a lot of them will be working through the summer, but they don't have students. Most of them don't have students in the classroom, but I can't tell you the number of teachers that I have had this past year that have said this is one of the most stressful jobs and people don't realize that.

KARA: Right, right. They don't have a lot of time to get those snacks and meals and they really have to be thinking ahead and preparing and packing their food. So kind of think to yourself, are you still practicing some of those bad food habits that could be a physical stressor on your body? Think about this, eating a bag of chips may produce just as much cortisol as if you were fleeing for your life to escape being eaten by a lion. I know that's kind of a funny scenario, but as we said before, it's not just calories in, calories out, it's really the quality of the food. So eating poor quality food, like a bag of chips, that's going to cause a release of too much cortisol. So on the flip side, eating real, not that excess sugar and we don't want those bad fats like trans fats and we don't want chemicals. So if we're avoiding all those things, we're going to decrease our biochemical stress and our cortisol is naturally going to go down, the cortisol levels will go down. That's going to help to decrease belly fat.

CAROLYN: Yes. So are you setting yourself up to have a bigger belly by skipping meals or snacks? As I said, that happened to me quite a number of times caregiving. Have you started to realize that when you actually skipped meals, it's very stressful to your body as well as to your brain and you often gain weight from that cortisol response. Again, it just goes to prove that calories in and calories out is not the answer. So weight gain and weight loss are much more complex than that. Again, as we said earlier, it's really about a hormonal problem, like a cortisol hormone problem that is exactly.

KARA: And every time you skip a meal and then people get low blood sugar, typically from skipping meals, that creates a stress response in the body, and that's another situation where the adrenal glands are going to put out more cortisol. And then we start putting on more belly fat. So we really encourage you all to follow what we call the magic three. So what is the magic three? It's eating protein, vegetable or fruit as your carbohydrates and a healthy fat every three hours. So there's three things to eat. Three macronutrients every three hours. Here's an example for lunch, it might look like some salmon or a pork chop. That would be the protein. The vegetable carbohydrate could be broccoli and sweet potato, and the healthy fat could be some butter. So that's very balanced. That's going to help control the cortisol response. So it really just goes back to eating real food to control stress, to control cortisol, and to help lose weight. And it sounds simple, but we know that it can be difficult to put into practice on a daily basis yet.

CAROLYN:  And you know what? I talk to people every day about those snacks and eating every three hours and a lot of people don't do the magic three for their snacks. 

KARA: What would they potentially do instead?

CAROLYN:  Just maybe a piece of fruit, like an apple. They don't normally think that they have to have that protein, fat and a good healthy carbohydrates. So I know one of my favorite ones, I can do dairy, so I love full fat cottage cheese with a little bit of fruit and I actually sprinkle it with a few walnuts on top.

KARA: That sounds delicious. The magic three.

CAROLYN: The magic three, yeah. Another thing, do you realize that when you're not getting at least seven and a half to eight hours of sleep, most nights you just may be gaining weight. That lack of sleep actually equals a biochemical stress. And then guess what? More cortisol is produced and as a result, more belly fat occurs. So you gain weight actually while you're sleeping or better way to put it, you gain weight because you're not sleeping enough. That's not good.

KARA:That's not good at all. Research shows that 27 percent of the population is sleep deprived.

CAROLYN: That's a lot.

KARA: That is a lot. I think, you know, basically one in three almost. Let me ask you, how many hours of sleep are you getting every night? Is it five? Is it six? Is that enough? No, five and six are not enough. We recommend sleeping eight to nine hours, as many nights as you can to get the fat burning to occur. You know, get those cortisol levels down and start kicking in the fat burning. Think to yourself, are you getting enough sleep in order to lose weight?

CAROLYN: And with that, we're gonna come back to that thought after our next break here. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Do you need help figuring out what salad dressing is healthy or what type of peanut butter is best to buy for your family?  How about taking a Grocery Store Tour with one of our Weight & Wellness nutritionists or dietitians? We have several tours scheduled at different grocery stores throughout the city. So please call us at 651-699-3438 to join a small group of six and get your personal shopping questions answered.

KARA:  Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I'm Kara Carper, licensed nutritionist. I'm here with Carolyn Hudson, a registered dietitian and I personally understand stress and how important it is to have a stress management plan. As a nutritionist, I believe that any stress management plan should start with quality food and quality sleep. Uncontrolled or poorly managed stress can actually lead to things like Alzheimer's, dementia, heart disease, cancer, anxiety, depression, and what we're talking about today, can lead to weight gain. Is it time for you to come in and see a nutritionist to develop your stress management plan? You can call 651-699-3438 to setup an appointment and a nutritionist can start getting to the bottom of it and help you manage that stress in your life.

CAROLYN: Before we went to break or talking about sleep. Sleep, how important is it? Did you get five hours, six hours? Or did you get the recommended, what we recommend eight to nine hours. So determine how many hours of sleep you need and hopefully that will help reduce your cortisol levels. So we say find your sleep number. Is it seven and a half hours? Is it eight hours? Nine hours or even 10 hours a night to reduce your cortisol level. I know for me, if I get under nine, I feel stressed.

KARA: Okay. How did you find that number?

CAROLYN: It's many years of just trying to figure it out. Well, you know, a lot of years of going to a job really early in the morning to avoid the traffic like what we were doing this morning. And that really led me to a lot of those sleep deprived days.

KARA: Because you would've had to have gone to bed like at 7:00.

CAROLYN: Yeah, really early. I was getting up at five in the morning. And so once I left that long commute job, then I started really trying to figure it out for myself. I don't set an alarm basically any morning except this morning, I always have to set alarms for these Saturday mornings when I'm on the radio, but I believe that for me, if I can fall asleep somewhere between 10 and 11 and I usually don't get up until 8 in the morning, that's like my ideal.

KARA: And then you feel good and you don't feel physically stressed. So it is not an extra stressor.

CAROLYN: Exactly. So we work with many clients who have very poor sleep habits when they first come in to see us. So we start by helping them with their sleep schedule. Today, so many people need help giving up their bad sleep habits. People are spending way too much time before they go to sleep, posting on facebook, texting, emailing, shopping or watching late night TV. And they don't realize that those bad sleep habits are actually causing them to gain weight.

KARA: So there's a couple parts to that, right Carolyn? I mean they're just staying up too late and they're not getting enough sleep. But also, you know, what about this screen?

CAROLYN: Oh, the light.

KARA: I don't know if people realize what the screen time is doing. It's inhibiting melatonin production.

CAROLYN: As much as two hours is what I read. We read that book, Why We Sleep.

KARA: So here are some sleep tips that may help you. Try to go to bed at the same time most nights, even the weekends. Just kind of stay in a consistent routine. Use blackout shades. I can swear by that. When I was pregnant, I invested in, I think it might have been a couple of hundred dollars but it was totally worth it because I thought when I have this baby, I might needed to be sleeping during the day when she's sleeping, when she's napping to catch up. And it's been wonderful. I still love having blackout shades, so when the room is really dark, our bodies are going to produce more melatonin. So that's kind of the same point we were making about avoiding, I would say avoid screen time an hour before going to bed, at least, because otherwise you're just not going to be making that melatonin, which helps us to sleep much better. A third tip is take a hot bath and put some Epsom salts in there. Epsom salts are high in magnesium, which is a relaxing mineral, helps to relax your muscles and calm you down. Another tip is eat a balanced snack at bedtime. That's going to keep your blood sugar balance throughout the night so that you don't have those annoying 2:00 or 3:00 AM wake ups. That can be a sign of low blood sugar. If you just proactively have a bedtime snack like egg salad on a Wasa light rye cracker, or perhaps it's banana with a couple tablespoons of almond butter or peanut butter. Another great option is half a cup of berries and two tablespoons of full fat heavy whipping cream.

CAROLYN: I love that one.

KARA:  So it's really, it's important to get that healthy fat. That's the ingredient that is going to stabilize the blood sugar and prevent the wake up.  Might be an avocado too.

CAROLYN:  Yeah, that's another great one. I love that. You know, some people have trouble falling asleep and for those clients we suggest taking a sublingual melatonin supplement and usually one to two milligrams is all that's needed for helping people get to sleep. So we have many other suggestions if melatonin doesn't work for you though.

KARA: So other people just can't stay asleep. You were talking about if you can, some people can't fall asleep but some people fall asleep fine and then they're just waking up throughout the night and they can't get back to sleep. That can be from, well, it could be from low blood sugar, but low blood sugar causes elevated cortisol. So we're back to that stress hormone and that often results in surface sleeping, kind of that light sleeping where you're easily disrupted and wake up from just a small sound or anything.  So can you relate to this? Do you think you're a surface sleeper? And you might think, well, what's causing that? Well, a lot of things can cause that. It could be the glass or two of wine that you had before bed or even with dinner that can result in middle of the night insomnia. Maybe you know you were hungry before bed, but you thought, "oh, I shouldn't eat before bed I'm trying to lose weight."

CAROLYN:We always hear that, don't we?

KARA:  We hear that all the time. Missing that bedtime snack can cause low blood sugar, which causes low glucose to the brain. That's a very stressful thing in the body and the brain. All of a sudden we are adrenal glands, pump out more cortisol and we wake up. That's not the waking up where you can actually go to the bathroom and then you just go back to sleep. It's the waking up where you feel wide awake. That's often low blood sugar.

CAROLYN: Yeah. Well let's break for a second here. I see we have a caller. Good Morning Julie.

CALLER:  Well hi. Not to be mean girls, but I hear, I've listened to your show for years. And it's always about weight gains. Some of us, when we're stressed can't even eat, I am one of those. I force feed myself. My daughter has been in and out of detox in treatment for almost three years now and I'm a walking skeleton and unfortunately my job just ended, the monitor on special needs buses for First Student and I can't afford to come to you guys. So I'd like to know how I can find a way to be healthy.

KARA:Sorry to hear about your situation. And you know, I think that's a great point. We do typically, I think it's more common that people are not even necessarily overeating but have a hard time losing weight. But it's definitely a valid point that there are those like yourself who can't eat and are therefore losing weight.

CAROLYN: And then you have a whole other set of problems Julie, then you're not getting the right nutrition to all of your cells in your body. And there are other things going on in your body that are different from those that are gaining weight. So it's kind of a complicated situation when that happens, but you know, again, you really, I think the best advice is trying to stick to that real food, trying to eat a little bit every three hours and keep it balanced. Keep your magic three in line, right? Your protein, your fat and your carbohydrate and making sure it's real food every time you're eating. So just doing the best you can. Even some protein shakes throughout the day.

KARA:  I was just thinking of that. Is that something that you can see yourself doing? Is having a protein shake and just sipping on it?

CALLER:  Well that's what I had to reduce myself to because the thought of food nauseates me. But I needed to point this side of the coin out again, because I can't be the only one out there.

CAROLYN: No, you're not. We definitely hear about it.

KARA: Thank you for calling hauling and I am sorry about your situation. Keep listening to our podcasts. Anything you can get your hands on that is related to stress. Just know the weight part doesn't pertain to you, but maybe take away some other tips on how to manage stress as best you can.

CAROLYN:Thank you for calling Julie. We have to go to break now. Thank you very much.

KARA:  Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you're in the habit of drinking one or two glasses of wine in the evening to unwind, I'm going to offer another suggestion. You know a lot of people do that because they're just trying to relax. They might be feeling some anxiety or stress. You could take one or two capsules of an amino acid called l-theanine anytime between, you know, 4:00 or 5:00 PM and that's going to help you achieve a very calm and relaxed state.  L-theanine is very unique. It's an amino acid. It's found in green tea and human studies have shown that l-theanine supports relaxation and helps you to focus at the same time so it doesn't make you drowsy. On stressful days some of my clients would take one to two capsules of l-theanine, maybe several times per day, every three to four hours. It's not habit forming, it's natural. It's very safe. I personally use it every day. I don't know if you knew that, but I probably been using it for 10 years really just to help me kind of manage. I tend to have anxiety and it really takes the edge off. It helps with stress. It can even help with pain and again, there's no sedation or drowsy effect. L-theanine is available online at our website  It's also found in all of our seven office locations.

CAROLYN: Yeah, that's great. I might give that a try. I haven't really used l-theanine.

KARA:  It's my go to.

CAROLYN:  Great. So I'm sorry before break we got kinda cut off there. We're running really late, so I just wanted to say that if you had some recent blood tests that indicated that you might be prediabetic in that prediabetic blood sugar range, then I am going to encourage you to listen to Cassie and me next week and learn how you can eat right to reverse those numbers. And some of us need to eat very carefully to control our blood sugars. So yes, for many of us that cereal is a no, no. And pizza and soda are also out. They're loaded with sugar and maybe that surprises you. If so you can maybe tune into us next week and learn more about reversing that prediabetes.

KARA:  Oh, that's going to be a great one because so many more people have prediabetes than just, you know, full blown diabetes. So it's very common.

CAROLYN: So again, before break and before our caller, we were talking about sleep. So we often suggests a variety of supplements to help people get a good night's sleep. And of course our long time listeners probably know, we often suggest 400 to 600 milligrams of magnesium glycinate for sleep. Natural supplements are not habit forming and overall they help you reduce your cortisol levels, so which in turn is really going to help you reduce that belly fat. So when your cortisol levels rise, guess what? Melatonin levels fall. So some people need to take only one sleep aid, but others who are experiencing kind of those multiple stressors might need to do two or three different sleep supplements. So the goal is to lose weight basically while you're sleeping rather than that other way around we were talking about earlier, which is kind of scary. As dietitians and nutritionists it's something that we help many people achieve, that good night's sleep.

KARA:So kind of what you were saying is like if someone is taking melatonin, they shouldn't be afraid to also take magnesium. And they could add l-theanine and I won't get into too much of what I do, but because I've talked about that on past shows when we focus on sleep, but I tend to have issues sleeping and I take, I probably take five different things every night. And it's so worth it to get to sleep and stay asleep. Yeah. So it is safe to take multiple supplements for that purpose. Professor Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep, said lack of sleep, shuts down the chemical message that says, stop eating. And it increases the hormone that says, please keep eating.

CAROLYN:Did you know that sleep deprived people eat more? Researchers at the University of Chicago Sleep Center found a link between sleep and appetite. The researchers found that sleep deprived people eat about 300 more calories each day of healthy food. But guess what? They also eat another 300 calories each day of high carb unhealthy processed foods. So have you ever noticed that you crave sugar after a night of poor sleep? I know I have. Remember that lack of sleep is one of those major bodies stressors which can cause that weight gain. So we want you to get enough sleep so that you can lose weight while you're sleeping.

KARA: So why do you think people crave more sugar? More carbs when they haven't slept? Maybe I'm thinking the hormone also, it's kind of like your body naturally is looking for a pick me up. More energy and the sugars and the carbs and the caffeine, they do give a very temporary quick kinda pick me.

CAROLYN: It's a quick fix.

KARA: But then it crashes and then there's weight gain. So it's obviously not the best solution. We want to get a better night sleep is the solution. Here's a quick review so you understand how cortisol, the stress hormone makes belly fat. When you're under stress cortisol releases glucose or blood sugar into the bloodstream and that really does temporarily help you to handle a stressful event. You know, maybe you're running late for an appointment, maybe it's the first day of your new job. So if you don't, you know, those would be scenarios where the cortisol is going to cause more blood sugar to be running through your blood. So if you don't use up all of that extra sugar or glucose because you're not in a fight or flight situation like running out of a burning building, running away from the lion that's chasing you. So we're not running like that, you know, like in historical time.  So all of that extra glucose, it's not getting burned off. It's getting stored as belly fat.

CAROLYN:Yeah that belly fat. So how do you keep that cortisol, the stress hormone, all locked up? Let me give you a few practical daily examples. Every time you skip a meal, your body is stressed, so cortisol is secreted and releasing glucose into your bloodstream, and that extra glucose is then stored as belly fat. Every time you let your blood sugar drop too low, your body is stressed. So when does that happen? When you're not eating every three hours, when you're not eating in balance, that can happen very easily and more cortisol is secreted, which then of course release is more glucose into your bloodstream and that's gonna create more belly fat. Bottom line, stress equals cortisol equals belly fat. However as we mentioned earlier, when you follow that magic three, eating that protein, the vegetable or fruit carbs and fat, every three hours, you will not be skipping meals so your blood sugar's not going to drop too low, which will keep the stress hormone cortisol all locked up.

KARA: Exactly. So don't want to be skipping meals or eating just carbohydrates, drinking soda, sugar. Those don't include the magic three.

CAROLYN: Magic three, eat protein, carb and good healthy fat every three hours, right?

KARA: And vegetable and fruit carbohydrates.

CAROLYN: Well we are all over and done with today. So our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's simple yet powerful map message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening and have a healthy good food day. 

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