Stress and Weight Gain:
The highest spike in my blood sugar over the past week didn’t even come food, but just from watching a playoff basketball game!
What you’re seeing here on my CGM (continuous glucose monitor) (Freestyle Libre) is a huge spike in my blood sugar watching the LA Clippers blow a 20 point lead. My stress levels were high during the game, and what’s happening here is that my body is activates it’s “fight or flight” response, breaking down muscle tissue down into glucose. This is an evolutionary response to provide us the energy to “fight or flee” from a life-threatening situation. Once glucose is elevated, the hormone insulin comes in to clean up, transporting blood glucose into my body’s cells, which then are converted into fat when unused.
Furthermore, the presence of insulin in the body inhibits lipolysis (fat burning) and promotes triglyceride storage (a lipid marker you want to see lower). Studies have shown a link between stress and weight gain – beyond “stress eating”, increased cortisol leads increase abdominal and visceral (around the organs, or the most harmful type) fat.
It’s really interesting how the human body works right? A high stress level in a completely safe environment in my living room elicits a response similar to being attacked by a predator and the body cannot tell the difference between being in danger or me just overreacting to a game. Now think about all of the stressors in the modern environment that keep our body in that parasympathetic state that aren’t truly life endangering (an urgent email, being late to a meeting, a stressful sports game, etc.)
Just something to think about when you get stressed over the little things! That’s why it’s tough being a Cincinnati Bengal and Los Angeles Clipper fan!