Relax and lose fat on slow carb?

Have you been feeling a little on edge lately? Perhaps just a little overwhelmed? Or maybe there’s a couple of things in your otherwise great world that are eating away at you, that you find yourself worrying about regularly.

Did you know that any of the above could be slowing your fat loss?

This isn’t going to be one of those preachy, ‘in an ideal world you would be meditating for half the day’ type of articles, because I know, and you know, that real life isn’t like that.

But this article will change your ideas about fat loss. I know life is busy, but I guarantee you this post contains some powerful information that is worth understanding.

In real life, things come along, sometimes unexpected and at the most inappropriate times, to interrupt what we’re doing. For a lot of us, we actually self-generate worries, and concerns over a huge range of things. In fact, if something in our world isn’t worrying us, many times we’ll subconsciously pick something, and start worrying about that. Have you ever wondered about how or when you started worrying about something? Don’t despair, you’re not alone! It can be difficult to trace a definitely source – which might suggest that you’re a habitual worrier, like many other millions of people around the world.

But I’m not here to go on about worrying, or relaxing for that matter, just because of how it makes you feel.

I’m much more interested in what it’s doing to your body, and how it’s affecting your fat loss results.

Worrying is just one very common version of stress, and stress is a daily feature in just about everybody’s lives. We all deal with stress, every day, and the use of the word may in fact be a little deceiving, as it gets applied mainly to events in our lives, people who have an affect on us, or situations we find ourselves in.

This isn’t a full list, but let’s take a quick look at some of the things that can be a ‘stress’ on your body:

  • Stressful events: car accidents, moving house, changing jobs, changing careers, losing a job, not making rent or mortgage commitments, financial problems, relationship problems, living/location issues, crisis, etc.
  • Less obvious: time management issues (being late constantly), being overloaded with too much work (no time off work-mode), lack of direction in life, commuting, alcohol intake
  • Prescription medicine intake
  • Too much exercise
  • Not enough sleep
  • Irregular sleep pattern
  • Being hungry for a number of hours
  • Low water intake
  • Thinking about problems without finding solutions or actions
  • Confrontational situations

It could be as simple as worrying about whether slow carb will work for you as a fat loss method.

The underlying, key important component is that many of the above points can lead to constantly elevated cortisol levels. You’ve probably heard about cortisol on ads on TV selling all kinds of miraculous tablets. The message here is that those tablets aren’t going to get you skinny, but being aware of cortisol will help you lose fat when you’re making lifestyle changes like slow carb food, and moderate exercise.

Recently, there have been some good examples of people finding their fat loss stopped when they had a stressful event in their lives. This isn’t an isolated example, as many people can attribute work stress, moving house, studying for finals, changing sleep patterns (newborn baby for example) all as sources of weight gain without dietary change, or slowing fat loss.

The mind and body really are connected, so what does that mean for all of the healthy habits we create and follow – are they going to waste if we’re worried out of our minds?

Not exactly.

Healthy food actually promotes a healthier state in your body, and will in fact help your body cope with stress, which is an excellent starting point.

Before we get into fine tuning things to help our bodies, we need to take a quick look at cortisol in a bit more detail, to understand ‘our enemy’. Of course, cortisol, like everything else in the body, has it’s place, however our modern, Western lifestyles tend to not mix well with some of our thousand-year-old human body (natural) technology, and so we get reactions like the ‘fight or flight’ response when we have an argument. This response was originally developed for when we were being attacked, in the wild, by a ferocious animal. I can see the connection, however in reality they situations are totally different. The argument may never result in any physical exertion, which means we have cortisol being released, with nothing to counteract it at the time (no physicaly exercise).

Cortisol, at a glance, causes fat to be stored, not burned, and it stays in the blood for quite a long time. It especially causes fat to be stored around the abdomen, and around the face. I think we will agree neither of these are desirable!

The situation doesn’t get any better in the details- chronically high cortisol will break down muscle tissue, which is what controls our metabolism. Lose muscle tissue, your metabolism goes down. Cortisol also releases blood sugar, to help us react physically to a threat, but without action, we just have more blood sugar in our bodies. Remember what slow carb aims to do? Level out blood sugar to prevent fat gain. Cortisol is acting directly opposite to that.

The hit list of other effects goes something like this: muscle cramps, constricted blood vessels, water retention, cravings for salt, lack of muscle relaxation, muscles don’t recover from exercise as well, reduction in collagen in the skin, suppressed production of growth hormone, reduced memory, insomnia.

That is a list of effects I want to stay as far away from as possible. I’m sure you do too.

But how do we know if we’re hovering in this area at the moment? Here’s some things to watch out for:

  • Out of breath, even when not physically exhausted
  • Feeling lethargic in the afternoon
  • Excessive worry/anxiety
  • Frequent urination, especially at night (this might be hard to spot due to your increase in water intake in general)
  • Constant Fatigue
  • Brain Fog
  • Difficult climbing stairs, standing up from sitting
  • Impatience
  • Heightened Digestive Sensitivity

If the list above looks familiar, consider for a moment that you may be fighting an unseen battle, as you work hard on keeping your daily food habits healthy.

So what can you do to work on this, if you think cortisol is giving you an extra challenge you’d rather not have?

There are some simple recommendations that will help reduce chronic cortisol, and potentially increase your ability to lose fat:

  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep a day, and try to make it around the same time
  • Make sure you are having your 30g protein breakfast within 1 hour of getting up
  • Don’t let yourself get ‘hungry’ – this means eating enough in your slow carb meals to get you to the next meal
  • Try eliminating or reducing caffeine and other stimulants
  • Work with your body to find a ‘good’ amount of exercise – think about 2 or 3 times per week, at a moderate to moderate/high level.
  • Make sure any infections or injuries are taken care of
  • Analyze your life to find sources of stress you may be able to reduce
  • Find 10 minutes a day for yourself, where you are not working, reading, watching TV or exercising, and relax until you feel the sensation in your body. It may be a hot bath, hot shower, sitting in a comfy chair, walking in your garden, etc.
  • Practice deep breathing 1-3 times per day – draw a deep breath in for 1 count, hold for 4 counts, release for 2 counts – repeat 10 times.
  • Remember the ‘experimental’ frame of mind. Nothing is your ‘final answer’ or ‘final attempt’ on reaching a goal that you want. Everything you test, whether it’s slow carb, exercise, or a supplement, is to find out if it works for you. There is a path to any goal you have, so keep relaxed about finding the best one.

Is this all easy to do? Not necessarily because it does mean some changes, but the benefits are obviously valuable, which is why there are products that suggest they can reduce cortisol, because taking a tablet in theory is a more simple, clean fix. However, there isn’t a lot of evidence that suggests those products actually work, and changing the source of a problem is always better than a bandaid solution.

It is possible to reduce stress, and it’s effects, and help your body be in a healthy state in which losing fat is not hindered. I’m sure that you can take a step today towards and lower-stress life.

Do you think your body and results have been affected by too much stress? Do you have some symptoms, or some remedies to share? Or maybe you think I’m just getting lost in theories, and that it’s all about food and exercise. Let me know by commenting below!

You might be interested in reading these too:

  1. Slow carb warning – stalled fat loss We work with many people each week who have challenges with stalled fat loss, and many of them have a common problem with the slow carb diet that is the cause of their...
  2. Slow carb revolution: fat loss and health? While Atkins is doing its science, and goading you into eating more bacon, and South Beach is filling you with artificially produced 'meal' bars, while Weight Watchers is leaving you unsatisfied with small...
  3. The Golden Rule of Slow Carb Fat Loss: The Right Amount of Exercise "Find 30 minutes a day", "raising our heart rate is healthy", "try to get 45 minutes in the fat burning zone", "make it a daily habit". Sound familiar? It should, as generally speaking,...

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9 Responses to Relax and lose fat on slow carb?

  • shannon says:

    this article, every word, just hit me.. it’s exactly what i’ve been struggling with without realising. i just don’t really know how to deal with the stress, because most of it is internal stress, coming from my own mind. but thank you, thank you for writing this. i now kind of get why it’s been so much harder to shed the pounds for me this time than other periods of my life. sigh!

    • Luke says:

      Hey Shannon,

      Thanks for your comment. I totally understand how challenging things can be, and I think a lot of our stress does come from our own minds, and the things that we’ve ‘learned’ over time – behaviors, ‘rules’, ‘meanings’ of things, etc.. I can be a challenging path to look at these things and work through them, but it is of great benefit to do so, and well worth the effort. You’ll never regret time spent reducing your stress, or negative patterns.

      All the best and take care,
      Luke

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  • Lyn Murphy says:

    I’ve just read this post and it really spoke to me. I have medically diagnosed General Anxiety Disorder but over the past month or so I have stopped taking all medication as well as switching to a Semi Paleo Diet in an effort to lose weight and get healthy.
    The weight loss was coming along nicely but then my anxiety/depression kicked in big time and the kilos starting piling back on again, even though I was eating and exercising in exactly the same way.
    Over the years I really believe the excess cortisol in my body has problem done a real number on muscle tissue and slowing down my metabolism to a crawl.
    It’s a real struggle at the moment to keep on track – but this article has really helped me to understand just what might be happening to me and the absolute importance of finding (non Medicational) methods of coping with my disorder

    • Luke says:

      Hey Lyn,
      Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I can understand that you’ve had a very tough time. Good for you for taking on a modified diet to get healthy – it can set a foundation that you can learn to rely on over time.
      It will take some time, and experiments to find what works for you, but I think you’ll find much better health into the future with your approach. If you’re concerned about cortisol and your muscles, and your metabolism, I would highly recommend doing some resistance training (with weights) a couple of times a week. This can not only build up new muscle, or build back what’s been lost, but it can help your metabolism, help you have a healthy appetite, increase cardiovascular health (without running on a treadmill ever!), and also burn away some stress.
      All the best,
      Luke

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