A recent study at Penn State found that people who react badly to stressful situations have increased levels of inflammation in their bodies—and inflammation is directly tied to obesity, as well as diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. When anxiety rides high, you're also at the mercy of stress hormones such as cortisol—known as "the belly fat hormone" for its ability to pull lipids from the bloodstream and store them in our fat cells. And a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when stress prevents people from sleeping well, they are more likely to make bad food choices, snack late at night, and choose high-carb snacks.
If you do Zumba or CrossFit or power yoga or are in the midst of training for a marathon or the Miss Olympia contest, by all means continue. But whether you’re a couch surfer or an actual surfer, you’ll jump-start your weight loss if you add in a 10- minute walk outdoors. This easy a.m. ritual works on two levels. First, a recent study found that exposure to UV rays, even on a cloudy day, between the hours of 8 am and noon reduces your risk of weight gain. Researchers speculate that the morning light synchronizes your metabolism and undercuts your fat genes. And burning calories before you eat means you’re exercising in a fasted state. According to some studies, exercising in a fasted state can burn almost 20 percent more fat compared to exercising with fuel in the tank.
The stress hormone cortisol can really screw with your belly. The problem with cortisol is two-fold: First, the chemical makeup of cortisol causes the body to store visceral fat. Visceral fat is stored between your main organs and in the midsection and is the most dangerous type of fat. Experts state that visceral fat increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
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