Sunday, September 4, 2011

Do you eat when you’re stressed? This new study knows why

Since opening Urbanfitt over 6 years ago, my health philosophy has become more and more holistic. Squatting our asses off and sweating our faces off isn't the most important part of getting fit and staying a healthy body weight. It's all about our overall health: physical, emotional and spiritual. I always include 15 minutes of myofascial release ( AKA self massage on a roller) and fascial stretch therapy at the end of my client sessions to help the body heal after a workout and release chronic stress. Any trainer who doesn't look at fitness from the inside out hasn't been on a journey of self discovery through enough stressful times to truly understand how to coach people who are living with chronic stress. We coach to whatever depth we have been to ourselves. So when choosing a trainer, make sure you feel like they have walked or could walk a mile in your shoes so that they get where you are at, see past the surface of you and, instead, look to understand your life in designing your fitness approach.

When I get really stressed, I feel slightly nauseous and lose my appetite. Most of my clients have the reverse problem when it comes to stress. They want to eat more. So I'm always looking at understanding this stress response because I have the opposite problem. Some people build a porch (i.e a belly) under prolonged stress and some people burn a porch (i.e. lose weight) under prolonged stress. You know which one you are. In choosing an exercise plan, it has to be something that helps you let go of stress and tension especially if you're an overeater or undereater during stress.

A new study gives fitness professionals even more reason to coach clients in a holistic way.

A new Canadian study has pinpointed how stress can temporarily rewire the nerve cells in the brain to ramp up hunger pangs. The findings finally put some science behind what people have thought for years.

“There’s lots of anecdotal evidence,” noted Jaideep Bains, a scientist at the University of Calgary. “People say when they’re stressed, they eat a lot … When you don’t eat, you have this really increased desire to eat, that perhaps you don’t sense the satiety signals the same way, or you tend to overeat.”

Dr. Bains and a team of researchers from the university’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute used rats to study how the brain reacts to stress. And in the case of rats, a key stress is availability of food. So the scientists took away the rodents’ food supply for a day and then examined what happened in their brains.

They looked at the nerve cells, or neurons, of the hypothalamus, the ancient part of the brain, which has previously been identified as playing a key role in controlling appetite and metabolism. The hypothalamus is also the main area responsible for how the brain handles stress.

Their findings, published online this week in the journal Neuron, found that the endocannabinoids, or chemicals that are produced in the brain to control how cells communicate, which also regulate food consumption, were negatively impacted by stress.

(taken from the Globe and Mail)

Intuitively, we know that there's more at play with weight gain and overeating than simple impulse control issues. It's a complicated relationship between our mind and body. Sometimes one of the best ways to change our bodies is to tackle our emotional challenges. We need to find ways to deal with stress and find fitness professionals who can assess our full beings, not just look at a number on a scale or a body fat % and then give us a cookie cutter diet and exercise program. We get the best results when we give our mind and body exactly what it needs to get in balance.


  1. After suffering an injury, the whole recovery process seems long and without results. Going to a Toronto fascial stretch therapy center, where physicians and trainers help you to get on your feet as soon as possible is a very good option, and people who have been injured feel like they didn't have a problem at all.

  2. I would love to get sucked in, I would love to loose 5 pds ... but oh so difficult. My weakness is SUGAR..just wanted to wear some cheap wedding dresses just to fulfill my crave...really want it.