Sports dietitian Jessica Spendlove explains why stress can stop you from losing weight, and how a brand new lemon balm herb can help you reduce your anxiety.
While most people think that the food we eat has the biggest impact on our weight and weight loss, there are several other factors that should be considered when trying to lose weight — including your lifestyle and hormone levels.
While we all know that creating an energy deficit is essential to losing weight, if you pair this with excessive exercise and stress, it may actually result in immense physiological (physical) or psychological (mental) stress, which may ultimately have detrimental effects on any weight loss attempt.
Enter the stress hormone known as cortisol.
Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands as a response to stress. While having small amounts in your body for a short period of time is fine (think fight or flight response), elevated cortisol disrupts the body’s blood glucose control by stimulating glucose secretion from stores in the liver and limiting the release of the insulin, responsible for removing excess glucose from the blood stream. This results in in high blood sugar levels.
Eventually, once cortisol levels drop, more insulin is secreted to remove the excess glucose. This cycle results in poor glucose control which makes losing weight very difficult, as the excess glucose can be stored as fat. If you’re trying to lose weight, managing cortisol and insulin levels are both important.
Any stress on your body — from being chased by a predator, excessively exercising, restricting energy intake or getting road rage — promotes the same hormonal response in your body. Stress from excessive exercising or severe caloric restriction may be where you’re going wrong with your weight loss efforts. If someone is over-training and their intake doesn’t match their requirements, this can place physiological and psychological stress on the body, stimulating cortisol secretion and making weight loss that much harder
There are several dietary and lifestyle strategies which can be implemented to assist with losing weight and managing cortisol levels. These include focusing on foods and supplements which nourish the body, periodising intake to match activity levels, avoiding excessive exercise and getting adequate sleep.
Recently there has been interest in Bluenesse, a lemon balm extract from the strand Melissa officinalis. The interest stems from preliminary research from Germany that has suggested Bluenesse may provide beneficial physiological effects for mental health, calming the body and increasing mental alertness.
There have been a couple of pilot studies conducted on humans which have shown promising results for the use of Bluenesse in reducing the effects of physiological stress. In one study, participants took 300mg of Bluenesse before participating in a stressful activity. One hour after consumption participants showed improvements alertness, working memory and word recall, as well as reduced of cortisol levels. The research is promising, indicating that Bluenesse may aid in reducing stress-induced cortisol levels and may also support mental focus and cognitive function.
If you want to work Bluenesse’s anti-stress benefits into your stress-less routine, the best way to do so is through a proven supplement like Body Science’s Hydroxyburn Clinical. This particular supplement combines Bluenesse with other beneficial stress-lowering and weight loss herbs, vitamins and minerals, including green tea, caffeine, B vitamins and Iodine to reduce your cortisol levels and assist with weight loss.
Jessica Spendlove is the athletic Performance Dietitian for GWS Giants, Cronulla Sharks and Giants Netball. Find out more about Jess at jessicaspendlove.com.
Find out more about Body Science Hydroxyburn Clinical and Bluenesse at their website.