How Stress is Stealing Your Gains, 4 Ways to Fight Back

We’ve all experienced the feeling of being stuck in traffic, waiting in long lines at the store, or not seeing the doctor until 2 hours AFTER the scheduled appointment time. That feeling of frustration is called stress.

What you may not realize is that feeling of stress is doing a number on your body including ruining all the hard work you’ve been putting in at the gym and in the kitchen.

Let’s take a look at how stress impacts your body and how you can fight back.


When you get stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. It’s better known as the “fight or flight” hormone. Although cortisol has been getting a bad reputation lately, it still is a helpful hormone. The problem is that by constantly stressing throughout the day, you release too much of the hormone at irregular times.

Due to this flooding of cortisol, your body is more prone to inflammation, irregular eating habits, decreased nutrient absorption, and irregular sleeping patterns. The result is a catabolic, or pro-breakdown, environment forms in the body. This is when you start storing fat and breaking down muscle tissue. In other words, you watch all that hard work go to ruin. (1)


You know it’s unhealthy to stress yourself to death so what can you do? Here are the top four ways to slam the breaks on stress and reclaim your health.

  1. Meditation

It’s no longer thought of as a weird ritual for some New Age movement. Science has taken quite the liking to meditation showing a number of benefits. To name just a few: Meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve attention and concentration. Don’t worry! You don’t need to be a Yogi master to start. Just 5 minutes per day is more than enough to notice a difference. (2)

How long should I meditate?

  • For beginners, you can start with 5 minutes per day and work your way up. The most common amount of time is 10 minutes. Look up helpful videos on YouTube or download an app for your smart phone to get started.
  1. The Right Nutrition

A healthy diet means more than just eating the right things. It’s also about avoiding the wrong things. The general rule of thumb is to go as basic as you can. The less processing, the better. Foods right from the ground are going to be ideal. A diet filled with fresh produce, lean meats, nuts, seeds, and oils can have a huge impact on your stress levels.

What should I avoid?

  • On the flip side, indulging in too much alcohol, caffeine, and unhealthy habits such as smoking will spike your stress.
  1. Sleep

You MUST get enough sleep. This cannot be stated enough. Sleep is the time when your body resets and engages in a number of repair and recovery processes. Getting enough sleep alone will have a huge impact on your health and mindset.

How much sleep should I get?

  • The recommended amount of sleep each night is still in the range of 7 to 9 hours, with emphasis on the latter. 8 hours is still a happy medium.

  1. Exercise

We know you hear this one enough but that doesn’t make it any less true. Exercise needs to become a daily part of your routine. The important thing to remember is that exercise can take many forms. It doesn’t have to be exclusive to the gym.

Take a walk through the park, go jogging around your neighborhood, take a Yoga class, or join a bike-riding club.

How much exercise should I get?

  • The Center for Disease Control recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each day. If you hit the gym and work with weight and strength-based activities then you only need to do this a few days a week.


How do you de-stress?

Do you have a proven way to beat stress?

Let us know in the comments section!


Boudarene M, Legros JJ, Timsit-Berthier M. Study of the stress response: role of anxiety, cortisol and DHEAs. Encephale. 2002 Mar-Apr;28(2):139-46.

Fadel Zeidan, Katherine T. Martucci, Robert A. Kraft, John G. McHaffie, and Robert C. Coghill

Neural correlates of mindfulness meditation-related anxiety relief

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2014 9: 751-759.


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